|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
|News||Corporatism||Recommended books||Recommended Links||Casino Capitalism||Corruption of Regulators||Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime|
|Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism||Two Party System as polyarchy||Neo-fascism||Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust||Inverted Totalitarism||Globalization of Corporatism||Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism|
|Elite Theory||The Iron Law of Oligarchy||Compradors||Fifth column||Color revolutions||Anti-globalization movement||Disaster capitalism|
|Super Capitalism as Imperialism||Ayn Rand and Objectivism Cult||If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths||Jeremy Grantham On The Fall Of Civilizations||Psychological Warfare and the New World Order||Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA||Neoliberalism and inequality|
|The Great Transformation||Harvard Mafia||Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market||Republican Economic Policy||Monetarism fiasco||Small government smoke screen||Gangster Capitalism|
|Libertarian Philosophy||Media domination strategy||John Kenneth Galbraith||Alternatives to Neo-liberalism||Globalization of Financial Flows||Humor||Etc|
Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare. “There’s class warfare, all right, "Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."
Make no mistake, the neo-Liberal fuckers are just as bad as the Stalinists
GB: once a great cultured nation, now a poorly-educated gangster mafia state, ruled by oligarchs and inhabited by soccer hooligans
Neoliberalism is a new form of corporatism based on the ideology of market fundamentalism, dominance of finance and cult of the rich ("greed is good") instead of ideology on racial or national superiority typical for classic corporatism. It is a counterrevolution aimed at destroying WWII compromise between workers and capitalists, which in the US was called the New Deal. In most simple form neoliberalism can be defined as an attempt to restore the rule of international financial oligarchy over society.
The American elite in 80th (if not in 70th, starting with Carter) decided to liquidate the New Deal coalition and to cover up the upward redistribution of income with a smokescreen of neoliberal ideology. Which also served as anesthetic ;-). Historically neoliberalism emerged as an ideology the financial elite, ideology of financial revanchism, brought to light as a band aid during the crisis of state capitalism in 70th.
It was a false misleading ideology from the very beginning created by people who can be called intellectual criminals. But it proved to be more relevant and long lasting then band aid acquiring a life of its own. and gradually it became full fledged ideology, even a new of "secular religion", if you wish. As it widely dissociated itself from the fact it requires from the followers blind, unquestioned obedience like in high demand cults.
It is difficult to define neoliberalism more precisely then a restoration of power of financial oligarchy. In his article “Protesting Youth in the Age of Neoliberal Cruelty”, Professor Henry A. Giroux points out that like communism, neoliberalism can be viewed in three principal dimensions -- political, ideological and cultural:
As the latest stage of predatory capitalism, neoliberalism is part of a broader economic and political project of restoring class power and consolidating the rapid concentration of capital, particularly financial capital (Giroux 2008; 2014).
- As a political project, it includes “the deregulation of finance, privatization of public services, elimination and curtailment of social welfare programs, open attacks on unions, and routine violations of labor laws” (Yates 2013).
- As an ideology, it casts all dimensions of life in terms of market rationality, construes profit-making as the arbiter and essence of democracy, consuming as the only operable form of citizenship, and upholds the irrational belief that the market can both solve all problems and serve as a model for structuring all social relations. As a mode of governance, it produces identities, subjects, and ways of life driven by a survival-of-the fittest ethic, grounded in the idea of the free, possessive individual, and committed to the right of ruling groups and institutions to exercise power removed from matters of ethics and social costs.
- As a cultural policy, it is wedded to the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection of private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, liberalization of trade in goods and capital investment, the eradication of government regulation of financial institutions and corporations, the destruction of the welfare state and unions, and the endless marketization and commodification of society.[v]
The real goal of neoliberalism is re-distribution of power. The neoliberal project is really about weakening the power of middle class in favor of maximizing the power of the tiny elite (the top 0.1%). As such, neoliberalism is a broad strategy of economic (and first of all financial), political, cultural and military elites to destroy social-democratic state and to restructure power relationships, institutions, by injecting into the society, like narcotic, an artificial and a priory false ideology (civil religion), which is extremely beneficial for the promotion of the top 0.1% (aka "super-elite", represented mainly by financial oligarchy) interests. Marx famous phase "Religion is the opium of the people" here acquires different and more modern context. The full quote from Karl Marx translates as: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people".
Like communism before, it is an ideology with its own international movement, but if slogan of Communist International (aka Comintern) was "workers of all countries unite" the slogan of neoliberal revolution are both "Elites of all countries unite" and "viva the law of jungles" or "if you see that guy who is ready to fall push him in the back". Of course with the appropriate PR smoke screen about free choice, democracy and equal opportunity.
Like Marxism neoliberal ideology is the ideology of class hegemony (just for a different class ;-), which serves multiple roles
The key element of those efforts is hijacking national media by Western interests and creating "media fifth column". This very interesting strategy of media domination looks like air supremacy in the conventional war. It is extremely powerful force for suppressing and demoralizing of the forces of the opponent. A very interesting example of such destabilization and subsequent coup d'état was recent EuroMaydan color revolution in Ukraine, where the level of brainwashing of population reached such an unprecedented level that people were acting against their major economic interests and essentially destroyed the state, inflicting economic misery and later the civil war. The trick somewhat similar to described in What's the matter with Kansas
Some authors define neoliberalism differently. For example, Robert McChesney, defines neoliberalism as an economic paradigm that leaves a small number of private parties in control and able to maximize their profit at the expense of the other smaller players and the rest of population. It posits that business domination of society proceeds most effectively when there is a representative democracy along with a weak and ineffectual polity typified by high degrees of depoliticization, especially among the poor and working class. He notes that unlike in classic corporatism, which relies on mass mobilization, neoliberalism relies on the opposite trend: a distracted or apathetic or depoliticized public essentially "goes along" with this, using the dominance of consumerism as a Trojan horse of depolitization and the loss of community spirit. In sum, neoliberalism is the immediate and foremost enemy of genuine participatory democracy, not just in the United States but across the planet, and will be for the foreseeable future. Globalization is the result of powerful governments, especially that of the United States, pushing trade deals and other accords down the throats of the world's people to make it easier for corporations and the wealthy to dominate the economies of nations around the world without having obligations to the peoples of those nations
This stress of depolitization is very important. It proved to be as efficient as mass mobilization of classic corporatism and achieve the same purposes with less violence. It is commonly called Inverted Totalitarism. Indeed, suppression of eny and all discussion and the inability to have honest and candid debates about neoliberalism in the United States and elsewhere is one of its most striking features suggesting communality with medieval Catholicism. Neoliberalism's loudest message is that there is no alternative to the status quo, "there is no alternative".
David Harvey, the author of A Brief History of Neoliberalism, defines neoliberalism as attempt to undermine power and sovereignty of governments by transnational corporations and establish the regime in which the power of financial oligarchy (aka power of "free market") is dominant in the society. Neoliberalism has distinct tendency to convert state in national security states, in which as we noted before two distinct modes co-exists: permissive for capital and repressive for labor and social programs. Here is one Amazon review of the book:
Malvin VINE VOICE on September 28, 2006Deconstructing neoliberalism's peculiar definition of 'freedom'
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase"A Brief History of Neoliberalism" by David Harvey is a concise and razor-sharp deconstruction of the neoliberal movement. Mr. Harvey convincingly demonstrates that neoliberalism is an ideology that has been wielded to enshrine elite privilege at the expense of people and the environment. Assiduously researched and cogently argued, Mr. Harvey offers a jargon-free and readable text that helps readers gain a greater understanding about the political economy of our neoliberal world and what this might hold for us in the future.
Mr. Harvey explains that neoliberal propaganda has succeeded in fixating the public on a peculiar definition of 'freedom' that has served to conceal a project of upper class wealth accumulation. In practice, the neoliberal state assumes a protective role for capital while it sheds as much responsibility for the citizenry as possible. Mr. Harvey details how neoliberal theory is ignored whenever it comes time to bail out corporate interests from bad decision making while the safety net for the working class has been gradually eviscerated. The author effectively intersperses the text with graphs to illustrate how thirty years of neoliberalist policies has resulted in rising inequality, slower economic growth, higher incomes among the upper class, and other measures that serve to convincingly support and prove his thesis.
Mr. Harvey's history of how neoliberalism has gained ascendancy mostly treads through familiar ground but also highlights some key events that are sometimes overlooked by others. For example, Mr. Harvey relates the well-known stories of how the Chilean coup in 1973 opened the door for Augusto Pinochet to implement the first national experiment in neoliberalism, followed by Margaret Thatcher in Great Britain in 1979 and Ronald Reagan in the U.S. in 1980. However, we also gain greater appreciation about the importance of the New York City bankruptcy in the 1970s. We learn how the city's financial crisis allowed for the imposition of neoliberal reforms in a manner that would prove to be a familiar template around the world: the rollback of labor rights, the privatization of public assets, cuts in public services, and increased policing, surveillance and political repression of a markedly polarized population.
Mr. Harvey surveys neoliberalism around the world to discover connections and to analyze its effects. He finds that the U.S. economy has benefited immensely from its ability to extract tribute from other nations, including the U.S. financial community's probable engineering of crises in developing nations in order to scoop up devalued assets on the cheap. The author discusses how economic restructuring programs imposed on poor countries has benefited U.S. and other foreign investors while it has bolstered or created a small but powerful class of wealthy individuals in Mexico, South Korea, Sweden and elsewhere. In China, Mr. Harvey remarks about the ease with which neoliberalism has found a home in an authoritarian state where the political elite have amassed their fortunes by exploiting a defenseless working class. The author is particularly concerned about the symbiotic relationship that has developed between the U.S. and China and muses about the potentially catastrophic financial situation that the two countries' mounting debts might pose for each other and the world economy.
In the final chapter, Mr. Harvey writes passionately about the need to continue building diverse democracy movements within the U.S. that are dedicated to social and economic justice. Although it is true that Mr. Harvey does not detail precisely what must be done, his thorough dissection of neoliberal ideology empowers us to effectively challenge those who hide behind false rhetorical devices in service to privilege. And for that, we should be grateful.
I give this outstanding book the highest possible rating and strongly recommend it to all.
There are also other definitions. But all-in-all any viable definition need to underline the fact that neoliberalism is about the transnational economic elite taking larger share of resources, income and political power in the society away from middle class. So it always means "class war", as well as blatant enrichment of top 1% at the expense of other 99%.
In this "enrichment of top 1%" aspect neoliberalism is based on a strategies of capital accumulation based on the rise of transnational capital. The integration (or re-integration as is case with the USSR) of most countries in global production and financial system is based of forming a narrow strata of comprador elite (aka fifth column). Transnational fraction of local elites in competition with nationally-oriented fractions vies for and in many countries won the state power (that's what color revolutions were about). They utilized this acquired power to restructure national economy in the interest of transnational corporation and merge them into the new global manufacturing and finance system with the center at the USA.
In a way a new non-state capitalist system emerged by breakdown of First World Keynesian capitalism (welfare states) and Third World "developmentalist" capitalism by abolishing two key features: state intervention on the level of medium and large capital (and, especially, international capital), and redistribution of wealth mechanisms.
Globalization became a new efficient strategy of capital accumulation as it allowed to shake off compromises and concessions that has been imposed by middle class with upper strata or industrial workers on national governments of G7 countries in the preceding epoch, when the USSR exists as a countervailing force and by the mere fact of its existence suppresses appetite of internal financial oligarchy. With the demolishing of gold standard in 1973 financial capital acquired unprecedented mobility and became able to operate across the borders in a new ways, which allows to eliminate the power of trade unions and state intervention, altering the balance of power in favor of international corporations. Emerging transnational elites instituted polices of deregulation, "supply-side" economics and regressive taxation creating new incentives for capital. Labor force was de-unionized and pushed into deregulated conditions with elimination of full time positions and adoption of "flexible labor" schemes. Via neoliberalism the world has became just a unified playing table for global corporations and states that support them. Material and political obstacles were removed as all states which undergone neoliberal revolutions shifted from post-WWII Keynesian social contract to serving transnational capital and transnational elites.
Neoliberalism also signifies a new historical period in the development of capitalism, the period of dominance of "monopoly-finance capital," and associated "Stagnation-Financialization trap" (SF trap) that drives processes of financial expansion in the economy from one bubble to another due to desperate attempts to stave off the tendency for stagnation of the "real economy" under the neoliberal regime.
While ideological postulates behind neoliberalism (Washington consensus) were discredited after financial crisis of 2008, it now persists in "zombie stage" as there is no viable alternatives and because the ability of transnational elite to find and fund a sufficient part of national elite (compradors) proved to be overwhelming for most states. And it is a quite powerful zombie which still is able to attack and suck blood from other countries which was recently demonstrated in Libya and Ukraine (Maydan).
Since 2007 some Latin American countries got governments that openly oppose neoliberalism. Direct military invasion against them is now more difficult as the threat of communism (which justified such invasions in the past) is off the map. But we can expect attempts to stage color revolutions or classic Coup d'état to reverse those events. One such color revolution (White revolution in Russia in 2011-2012) recently failed. Another (Maydan in Ukraine) is ongoing.
For G7 nations the neoliberalism in zombie stage might have staying power to survive until the end of the period of "abundant hydrocarbons" whether it means the next twenty or the next two hundred years. In any case they, and first of all the USA and GB, bet their prosperity on the viability of neoliberal regime and they now can't abandon it without significant losses.
Still ideological crash of neoliberalism in 2008 has its effects and the rest of the world gradually becoming less and less enthusiastic about neoliberalism, although few dare to openly argue with the USA policies. And for now the USA remains the sole superpower (new Roman Empire) and can economically squeeze or destroy dissident as we are now observing with Russia.
But it is intellectually bankrupt doctrine, no question about it. Not long ago, the cold war ended with the restoration and triumph of capitalism in the form of neoliberalism on a global scale, and then, less than three decades later, neoliberal form of capitalism is, in turn, became as intellectually bankrupt as communism was in 1990th. By all accounts, the financial catastrophe of 2008 was not only the worst since the Great Depression economic crisis, but a political crisis that somewhat reminds the crisis of Marxist ideology in the USSR in 1960th and 1970th.
As neoliberalism no longer can be sold as the only viable ideological model for other countries, it is now force fed using the strength of American economics and American and NATO bayonets. As well as the strength of transnational elite interested in maintaining status quo (Soros, Rockefellers, Rothschilds, etc)
The vast technological and cultural superiority of the West also matters, although to a lesser extent, as China now became the key factory for the world and as such possesses most of the modern technologies on its factories (which belong to foreign corporation, but still are on China territory).
Another factor that prolongs the life of neoliberalism is that no viable alternative exists, although attempts of partial restoration of the power of national states in a form of state capitalism (Russia, China, USA) and more balanced approach between interests of national population and international corporations are attempted in various forms in various countries (Hungary, many Latin American countries).
|"Neoliberalism was a stunning utopia of economic determinism, one even more
ambitious than that of Marx."
The simplest way to understand the power of neoliberalism as an ideology, is to view it as Trotskyism refashioned for elite. Instead of "proletarians of all countries unite" we have slogan "elites of all countries unite". Instead of permanent revolution we have permanent democratization.
In a way it is the revolt of the elite, instead of revolt of proletariat which Marxists expected. And it led to forming powerful Transnational Elite International (with Congresses in Basel) instead of Communist International (with Congresses in Moscow). Marx probably is rolling in his grave seeing such turn of events and such wicked mutation of his political theories.
Neoliberalism is also an example of emergence of ideologies not from their persuasive power or inner logic, but from the private interests of the ruling elite. As such it can be called Trotskyism for rich (so much for valiant efforts of Senator McCartney to fight Trotskyism in the USA :-). Political pressure and money created the situation in which intellectually bankrupt ideas could prevail much like Catholicism prevailed during Dark Ages in Europe. In a way this is return to Dark Ages on a new level. Hopefully this period will not last as long.
Among the ideas that neoliberalism borrowed from Trotskyism via renegades such as James Burnham we can mention the following:
Don't tell me that a country with our history and heritage, that today boasts six of the top ten businesses in the whole of Europe, with London the top business city in Europe, that is a world leader in technology and communication and the businesses of the future, that under us has overtaken France and Italy to become the fourth largest economy in the world, that has the language of the new economy, more brilliant artists, actors and directors than any comparable country in the world, some of the best scientists and inventors in the world, the best armed forces in the world, the best teachers and doctors and nurses, the best people any nation could wish for.
Don't tell me with all that going for us that we do not have the spirit to meet all the challenges before us.
Blair conference speech, 26 September 2000
This "capitalists counteroffensive" or "revolt of the elite" was pioneered in Britain, where Margaret Thatcher was elected leader of the Tory Party in 1975 and put into real shape by Ronald Reagan in 1981-1989 (Reaganomics). Margaret Thatcher victory was the first election of neoliberal ideologue (Pinochet came to power via supported by the USA military coupe de tat). Both Thatcher and Reagan mounted a full-scale counterattack against the (already weakened and fossilized) unions. In GB the miners were the most important target. In USA traffic controllers. In both cases they managed to broke the back of trade unions. Since 1985 union membership in the USA has halved.
Privatizing nationalized industries and public services fragments large bargaining units formed of well organized public-sector workers, creating conditions in which wages can be driven down in the competition for franchises and contracts. This most important side effect of privatization was dramatic redistribution of wealth to the top layer of financial and managerial elite (corporate rich).
Neoliberalism gradually gained strength since probably late 50th with free-market theorists like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman as influential ideologues. Ann Rand also made an important contribution with her "greed is good" philosophy of positivism. Still many economists and policy-makers favored a ‘mixed economy’ with high levels of state intervention and public spending. That changed in the 1970s when the state capitalism run into rocks. In a way rise of Neoliberalism was the elite response to the Long Recession of 1973-1992: they launched a class war of the global rich against the rest. Shrinking markets dictated the necessity of cutting costs by sacking workers and driving down wages. So the key program was to reverse the gains made by the US lower and middle class since 1945 and it needed an ideological justification. Neoliberalism neatly fitted the bill. With outsourcing, the global ‘race to the bottom’ became a permanent feature of a new economic order.
At 1980th it became clear that the age of national economies and ‘autarkic’ (self-contained) blocs like the USSR block ended as they will never be able to overcome the technological and standard of living gap with the major Western economies. This inability to match the level of standard of living of western countries doomed communist ideology, as it has in the center the thesis that as a superior economic system it should match and exceed the economic level achieved by capitalist countries. Collapse of the USSR in 1991 (in which KGB elite played the role of Trojan horse of the West) was a real triumph of neoliberalism and signified a beginning of a new age in which the global economy was dominated by international banks and multinational corporations operating with little or sometimes completely outside the control of nation-states.
The rise of neoliberalism can be measured by the rise of the financial and industrial mega-corporations. For example, US direct investment overseas rose from $11 billion in 1950 to $133 billion in 1976. The long-term borrowing of US corporations increased from 87% of their share value in 1955 to 181% in 1970. The foreign currency operations of West European banks, to take another example, increased from $25 billion in 1968 to $200 billion in 1974. The combined debt of the 74 less-developed countries jumped from $39 billion in 1965 to $119 billion in 1974. These quantitative changes during the "Great Boom" reached a tipping point in the 1970s. Global corporations by then had come to overshadow the nation-states. The effect was to impose a relentless pressure on national elites to increase the exploitation of ‘their own’ working class. High wages became a facto that deters new investment and labor arbitrage jumped in full swing. Taxes on business to pay for public services or welfare payments became undesirable. As well as laws designed to make workplaces safe, limit working hours, or guarantee maternity leave. While from purely theoretic perspective the ‘free-market’ theory espoused by neoliberal academics, journalists, politicians, bankers, and ‘entrepreneurs’ is compete pseudoscientific Lysenkoism-style doctrine, it became very popular, dominant ideology of the last decade of XX century. It provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed, poverty, as well as economic crisis endemic to the system. It also justified high level if inequality of the political and business elite an a normal state of human society. In this sense, neoliberalism became an official ideology of the modern ruling elite.
The essence of neoliberalism is globalization of corporatism, which previously have distinct national boundaries and some forms of which were rabidly nationalistic (for example German national socialism). Just imagine a single global state with the capital in Washington with the typical for such a superstate flow of people to capital and you essentially catch the essence of the USA elite neoliberal dream -- Pax Americana. There are also second class cities such as London, Berlin. Tokyo, etc which while not as attractive are much better then the "deep province", such as Prague, Warsaw or Sanct-Petersburg.
So the flow of people and commodities such as oil has distinct direction from the periphery to the center. To keep each country in the line and this flow of commodities uninterrupted, this "Capitalist International" relies on the part of national capitalist class and elite which is connected to international corporations serving the same role as Communist Parties or Communist International. Such as part is often called Compradors or Fifth Column of Globalization
And this "international elite" is even more responsive to pressure from Washington, as its fortunes and often families reside if "first class cities" of G7. This way neoliberalism is able to suppress the other part of the elite of particular country which favors "national" development and typically resides inside the country. As a PR smokescreen neoliberalism pay lip service to national development, but in essence it is hostile to it and favor "underdevelopment" of nations outside G7. It's anti-social and has distinct schadenfreude attitude to weak nations: it derives pleasure from seeing the misfortunes of other nations and it try to exploit such moments ("disaster capitalism"). Vae victis as Romans used to say (Victor's justice).
And the winner in neoliberal revolutions is not the middle class and lower strata of population (although they might be sold on it and fight for it, being deceived by propaganda as is the case with the current generation of Americans), but international and local oligarchy represented via international corporations and banks. For bottom 90% population the hangover after the neoliberal revolution comes really quick. This affect was clearly visible after successful color revolution in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine. In cases of Georgia and Ukraine the neoliberal leaders lost power after their term and there were efforts to put them in jail for abuse of power and corruption, which were not successful only due to USA pressure (only former Ukrainian Prime Minister Julia Timoshenko, the Joan of Arc of Orange revolution was jailed). In any case popularity of leaders of neoliberal revolutions drops to almost unheard levels with Victor Yushchenko commanding 2% approval rating in Ukraine before the end of his term.
Neoliberalism is not merely a new pseudo-religious, cult-like version of globalized corporatism. Like national socialism before it is also simultaneously a powerful ideological export product. It is the core of Pax Americana, which the USA tries to impose of the rest of world. As Samuel P. Huntington(1927 – 2008), the author of the concept of Cleft country expressed this view, the idea of Pax Americana means that:
"a world without US primacy will be a world with more violence and disorder and less democracy and economic growth than a world where the United States continues to have more influence than any other country in shaping global affairs. The sustained international primacy of the United States is central to the welfare and security of Americans and to the future of freedom, democracy, open economies, and international order in the world."
Similar ideas were expressed in 1998 book The Grand Chessboard American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives by Zbigniew Brzezinski. From one of Amazon reviews:
- The defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union was the final step in the rapid ascendance of a Western Hemisphere power, the United States, as the sole and, indeed, the first truly global power..."
- "Two basic steps are thus required: first, to identify the geostrategically dynamic Eurasian states that have the power to cause a potentially important shift in the international distribution of power and to decipher the central external goals of their respective political elites and the likely consequences of their seeking to attain them;... second, to formulate specific U.S. policies to offset, co-opt, and/or control the above..." (p. 40)
- - "...To put it in a terminology that harkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together." (p.40)
- - "Henceforth, the United States may have to determine how to cope with regional coalitions that seek to push America out of Eurasia, thereby threatening America's status as a global power." (p.55)
- - "America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe's central arena. Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and to America's historical legacy." (p.194)
- - "That puts a premium on maneuver and manipulation in order to prevent the emergence of a hostile coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America's primacy..." (p. 198)
- - "The most immediate task is to make certain that no state or combination of states gains the capacity to expel the United States from Eurasia or even to diminish significantly its decisive arbitration role." (p. 198)
- - "For Pakistan, the primary interest is to gain Geostrategic depth through political influence in Afghanistan -- and to deny to Iran the exercise of such influence in Afghanistan and Tajikistan -- and to benefit eventually from any pipeline construction linking Central Asia with the Arabian Sea." (p.139)
And ponder the meaning of these statements in a post-9-11 world:
- "Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multi-cultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat." (p. 211)
- "The attitude of the American public toward the external projection of American power has been much more ambivalent. The public supported America's engagement in World War II largely because of the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. (pp 24-5)
While this is typically associated with neocon thinking, it is shared belief of the majority of the US elite. In 1992, the US Defense Department, under the leadership of Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney [later to be George Bush Jr.’s VP], had the Pentagon’s Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Paul Wolfowitz [later to be George Bush Jr.’s Deputy Secretary of Defense and President of the World Bank], write up a defense document to guide American foreign policy in the post-Cold War era, commonly referred to as the “New World Order.” The Defense Planning Guidance document was leaked in 1992, and revealed that,
“In a broad new policy statement that is in its final drafting phase, the Defense Department asserts that America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union,” and that, “The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.”
Further, “the new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders ‘must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’.”
As the official state ideology of the USA where it became an integral part of American Messianism it was successfully exported to many countries. And it now permeates many aspects of social cooperation and culture. Like in the USSR the whole generation of people in the USA had growth being brainwashed by this ideology. It dictates an extremely militant almost jingoistic (does not hesitate to exercise force or overthrows the governments), foreign policy (Trotskyites idea of export of revolution in full swing), it is as deceptive as bolshevism (what Washington means by the "spread of democracy" is actually spread of neoliberalism), missionary (regards itself as a monopolist of the "truth" and protector of "universal values" ) and colonizing (serving simultaneously the ideology behind Neocolonialism). Like Communism it is also messianic as in "the end justifies the means" and does not abstain from using dirty methods including black propaganda and color revolutions for achieving its goals. In the level of hypocrisy and methods used against "natives" it reminds British empire or the USSR (your choice ;-).
It blackmails antagonists as depraved, primitive, and below par. A good sample of neoliberal blackmail can be extracted from the US press coverage of preparations to Iraq war( US press enlists for war on Iraq) and Libya coup d'état. Another good set of samples provides Guardia press coverage of Putin's Russia and Ukraine Euromaydan events. Funny but Russia occupies the middle ground between neoliberalism and resource nationalism, so in principle it coul be an alli of the USA and GB, but as a large country and possible geopolitical opponent it also was in crosshairs of the US elite. One of the reasons for Russia's defeat in Chechnya between 1994 and 1996, was an attempt by America in the 1990s, with tremendous help from the comprador part of Russian elite it managed to create, to turn Russia into a standard neoliberal vassal state, whose elites would be subservient to the US foreign policy and would exist to export raw materials to the West and to transfer money to Western bank accounts. That attempt failed with Putin coming to power. So now the level of animosity from the USA and British elites and serving them MSM now goes over the roof .
With the notable exception of the USA itself, neoliberalism is hostile to nationalism. That does not exclude flirting with neo-fascist elements in countries were neoliberalism is under attack from the left or from the resource nationalists. But those forces are viewed more like tactical allies (Ukraine is a good example) and can be thrown under the bus, when they do their dirty job. Inside the USA, the holy city of neoliberal ideology, it to a certain extent merged with American Exceptionalism; the USA is viewed as exemplarity neoliberal country, the shining city on the hill which has right to impose their views and interests on the rest of the globe with impunity, standing outside the law.
While welfare state presuppose redistribution of income down, the "free market capitalism" presupposes even more powerful redistribution of income up, toward the most wealthy part of the population.
Unlike previous revolutions (with the exception of Bolsheviks revolution) the unique feature of neoliberal revolution is drastic lowering the standard of living of middle class and poor, along with dramatic enrichment of top 1% of population and international corporations. In a way it is equivalent to selling of local population into slavery to international corporations by local oligarchy. with the interesting Pareto style 80:20 split. In other words only 20% of population get something from neoliberal revolution with over 50% concentrated at, way, the top 5%, and lion share in top 1%. This "top 20%" of beneficiaries constitute "fifth column of neoliberalism" in the particular state.
Lower 80% of population standard of living typically dramatically drops after neoliberal revolution and never recover. That does not mean that those capitalists who favor "national" development are considerably less brutal in exploiting lower 80% population, but at least the "spoils" of this exploitation are left by and large in the country and used to improve infrastructure, housing, education and such while neoliberal model of exploitation often is sucking the vassal states dry. Former Eastern European countries such as Bulgaria, Rumania and Serbia provide especially interesting and educational example of how neoliberalism deforms the economy and impoverish population. Especially Bulgaria, this basket case of Europe.
There are some exceptions like China (which practice not pure neoliberalism bus a mixture of neoliberalism with national development, kind of "neoliberalism with Chinese face" ;-), but even in China this process of dramatic enrichment of top 1% is clearly visible although it is not accompanied with drastic lowering of standards of other 99% of population like happened in Russian, Ukraine and other post Soviet republics. Again in the level of decimation of local middle class and poor neoliberal revolutions have a lot in common with Bolshevik's revolution in Russia of 1917.
Here is a quote from insightful Amazon review by razetheladder of Chalmers Johnson book Blowback The Costs and Consequences of American Empire:
Johnson's strength is in recounting the specificities of US foreign policy; he's much weaker at an overall understanding of imperialism. He seems to think that American policymakers have naively built up the economic strength of their Japanese, Korean, and now Chinese competitors by focusing on maintaining their own military power. This is an old critique, resting on the notion that imperialism hurts the imperialists.
But Johnson is relying on the idea that "America" is a unitary entity, so that the hollowing out of industry hurts "America", not specific social groups within the country. In reality, US foreign policymakers work to advance the interests not of "America", but of those same business elites that have benefited from turning Asia into the world's sweatshop and undermining the unions that built their strength on American industry. American economic imperialism is not a failed conspiracy against the people of Asia, but an alliance between American elites and their Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, and Chinese counterparts - against the potential power of the working majority in all those countries.
But it's more complex than that, too, since the US seeks to prevent the emergence of an independent military challenge (especially China, but also Japan) to its Asia hegemony while seeking to expand the power of American commercial interests in the region, even as it tries to keep Asian elites happy enough with the status quo to prevent their rebellion against it.
Neoliberalism as an ideology can be succinctly defined as "Transnational elites Uber Alles". But it uses the concept of elite on the level of the of the countries too. Neoliberalism distinguishes between to types of countries, and. respectively, there are two forms of neoliberalism, one for G7 countries (elite) where while squeezing middle class it operates with "velvet gloves", and a more brutal practice from "prols" countries outside G7 (vassal countries with local elites as fifth column of globalization). Neoliberalism relies mainly on financial mechanisms and banks and use brute force only as a secondary weapon for subduing people and minor countries (you can get much farther with a kind neoliberal word and cruise missiles, then with just kind neoliberal word alone). In time, it generally coincides with computer and Internet revolution, which made globalization of labor via outsourcing of production and services to poor countries much more attractive.
In principle we can define two distinct types of neoliberalism: one for elite countries and the other every other country:
It is the same good old strip-mining of foreign natural and labor resources practiced by Spain, France and Great Britain. Installation of a puppet, fifth column based government guarantee the foreign financial interests which are the highest priority of the new regime ("government of national treason" as Yeltsin gang was called in Russia). Since 1980th neoliberalism led to levels of poverty of the bottom half of the population of peripheral countries which remind A Reversion to a Dickensian Variety of Capitalism. In Russia under Yeltsin gang it was probably even worse. In all cases, it stimulated tremendous growth of inequality in already poor countries and complete dominance of the economy by major transnational corporations and banks. It does not produce real growth with few notable exceptions (China, parts of South East Asia, Brazil). Nowhere this "neoliberal stagnation" is more visible as in Latin America which was the neoliberalism lab since early 80th. Even Chile, a country with rich mineral resources, the poster child of neoliberalism in Latin America has in 2012 officially 14% of population living below the poverty level ( Economist, 2012 ) with street children, prostitution and other associated vices (how-to-tackle-street-child-poverty-in-chile) Even worse situation existed in 1991-2000 in Russia and other xUSSR countries that got under neoliberal steamroller in 1990th. It was a real economic rape.
Actually some elements of the idea of "national superiority" were preserved by reserving for the USA special "shining beacon on the Hill" status (American Exceptionalism) and in a form superiority of "creative class" which includes capitalists, financial oligarchy, and "executives" (top layer of transactional corporate elite) plus narrow social strata of people who are serving them (and that includes most journalists, programmers and IT staff, and such).
In a way, neoliberalism considers this so called "creative class" to be a new Arian race. Everybody else are Untermensch and should be treated as disposables. In other words it is more like a religion that claim supremacy of particular ethnic group or a class. See for example a Guardian reader comment made in 2011 (you need to brose the comments as direct link does not work; recently Guardian screwed its comment system completely):
ITS1789 13 Sep 2011 14:15
I'm not from the left, and I personally do really, really well out of the capitalist system, and enjoy a life of relative luxury, but then I can afford to give half my annual income away to charity and still live very well. I like capitalism, it's been very good to me, and my family for over two centuries, but the ghastly version that's swept the world over the last thirty years is something else.
I think neoliberalism is something close to a malignant cancer growing inside a healthy capitalism, and with equally disastrous consequences. So my criticism comes not from the left, but from the right, for what that's worth.
Neoliberalism is a kind of pseudo-religion, a dogma, which is passionately believed by its disciples, despite the evidence showing that it simply doesn't work in the real world, but like most religious fanatics, the real world doesn't matter much to them. Which is another reason they remind me of Stalinists in the old Soviet system.
... ... ...
For me neoliberalism is a primitive and dangerous delusion about society, economics, and human nature, comparable to extreme forms of socialism, which are equally hairbrained and destructive, and arguably just as bloody.
Thatcherism was classic, class-warfare politics, but launched from the extreme right instead of the left, and it was wildly successful, at least for those it benefitted, a narrow strata at the top of society. Now that the entire charade is collapsing, and taking the welfare state, the middle class, and probably capitalism itself, with it, it's time to pay the bill for this long, illusory, party.
From political point of view neoliberalism vision is somewhat close to Communists vision. It also relies on state repression (despite demagogy of Washington consensus about "free markets") and generally can't exist without police state (or National Security State as we now call it; Total surveillance is just icing on the cake). Under neoliberalism the state become more repressive toward lower 80% of population and, especially, labor, but much less repressive toward various forms of capital and, especially, large capital.
In this sense the only difference is the location of the capital: while the USSR was the holy land of communist world and Moscow its global capital, now the holy land of neoliberalism is the USA and the capital is Washington. With the USA government and Washington headquarters of IMF and World Bank making close analogy to Politburo of CPSU. Due to their strong tendency for political dictate US embassies in Eastern Europe and xUSSR space are sometimes called "Washington Obcoms". As in following post in freerepublic.com
Funny how clueless are foreigners about Russian commies. Putin plays tough man for better bargain positions while actually he accepts orders from Washington obcom (regional committee of CPSU). Putin serves to interests of oligarchs and conducts actually liberal anti-Russian policy. He like helps oligarchic vampires to suck out money from Russian economy and invest them in US economy and Western banks what is absolutely unacceptable for Russian commies.
Like with Comminist International, other states are just vassals who implement directions from benevolent "Washington Obcom" and install the leaders recommended by it, or face ostracism (YouTube) or, worse, direct military invasion... Funny, but it was the corrupt communist elite which put the major effort in helping to implement this vision via the dissolution of the USSR.
As Pope Francis noted that like Marxism in the past neoliberalism represents a new philosophy, new kid on the block. He see principal feature of this new philosophy in what he called the "idolatry of money" and turning inequality into moral imperative (Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013):
No to the new idolatry of money
55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
Simultaneously neoliberalism proved to be the most capable ideology to fight and displace Marxism. It actually inherited quite a bit from Trotskyism (see below), so in a way it was "evil twin" of Marxism. And it was relevant and effective not because it was a "better ideology", but because Marxism as ideology self-destructed due to several major problems caused by actual experience with state socialism as implemented in USSR and other countries of Warsaw block:
Economic efficiency of such regime proved to be low and in no way it represented a new level of productivity of labor as Marxism assumed. Standard of living in the USSR was non comparable with the standard of living achieved in Western Europe and the USA in many (although not all) metrics. Also the dominance of military industrial complex became even more pronounced in the USSR then in the USA.
In this sense Gorbachov's perestroika" was a forced. desperate measure dictated by the need to switch to a new, more “viable” model of state socialism by incorporating ( in a controlled fashion) such capitalism features as markets, competition, and private incentives similar to Lenin's NEP policies. This process went out of control because Soviet nomenklatura decided to privatize the country instead, rationally expecting that it will prosper more under the new neoliberal regime then under state socialism. So this was a counterrevolution from the top (a typical neoliberal revolt of the elite), led by members of Politburo and KGB with the explicit Western support and huge (and mostly covert) financial flows to sustain "protesters".
Deng Xiaoping was more
successful in China then Gorbachov (who proved to a very weak, almost amateur politician), despite
the fact that he also adopted NEP-style model with the neoliberal core as the basis of "market part"
of "socialism with
Chinese characteristics". But he more wisely started with allowing Western firms to produce
goods in China using cheap China labor in selected economic zones, while preserving the political
control of the Communist Party. Also Chinese Communist party was much younger then the CPSU, so
the process of degeneration of leadership did not went as far. But in general, the possibility
of neoliberal "revolt of the elite" in China still remains, as China Communist Party now is gradually
becoming as corrupt as CPSU in the USSR.
And another blow came from the evolution of trade unions in major western countries into hierarchical, subservient to management organizations with its own static and partially parasitic elite. Development of nomenklatura as a ruling class in the USSR was just the last nail in the coffin of the idea of "dictatorship of the proletariat".
Gorbachov was actually the source of embarrassment among Russian people in the same way as as George W Bush was in the USA for American people. Both never managed to learn their native languages and used to speak using mangled words and phrases (Gobachvisms vs. Bushisms). Which might be also a sign of some brain condition, that inhibits speech center. Here is one post from The Kremlin Stooge:
kievite says:April 12, 2011 at 3:33 am
I think Gorbachev was not fooled; he was just very weak, deeply provincial politician, who failed to see any way to reform the USSR without Western help, not understanding that the first thing West plans to do is to organize, finance and support nationalists in a hope they will blow the USSR up. It was pretty funny that Gorbachev, like Bush, never mastered his own language. “Gorbachevisms”, like “Bushisms” were constant fodder for humorists.
Yeltsin, in my book, was impulsive, clueless, power hungry alcoholic who raised to power only on the wave of general distrust and hate of Communist Party. He has no clue what to do.. In way he like Gorbachev was a symbol of degradation of Politburo.
Yeltsin was a binge drunkard wi
he only important for politician feature -- tremendous lust for power. He happily adopted neoliberalism sold by the USA as a way to get and preserve his political power, so Russia first suffered from its adoption of Bolshevism in 1917 and then Neoliberalism in 1991. I think two such adoptions are equal to nuclear attack on the country. Now I understand why Bismarck used to say to parliamentarians who tried to persuade him to adopts socialist principles:
k let's do it, but first let's chose the country we don't care about. And his saying is as true for neoliberalism as it was for socialism.
There essence of neoliberalism is not only dominance of finance over other
t of the economy, but also free movement of goods and people by global corporations without any respect for national borders. And that is the source of increasing efficiency and dropping prices on many categorie
good. An interesting question is how much the rise of neoliberalism was forced on humanely by the short historical period of availability of cheap hydrocarbons. Energy is important driver of globalization. Even the previous stage of globalization: the creation of colonial empires by Great Britain, France, Germany and Spain was at least partially based of steam power and coal.
Now it is an oil that serves the same role for the global neoliberal empire. The latter allow cheap global transportation, mass air travel and powers huge US military machine which has no equals in the globe and serves as a guarantor of security of neoliberal regimes all over the globe. Out of three major components of globalization -- the US as a sole superpower, cheap international shipping and air travel, and (to lesser extent) global telecommunication networks the first two definitely depends of cheap energy. And, BTW, Google is also not running of holy spirit; it is one of the top consumers of electrical energy in the USA.
While it is unclear to what extent neoliberalism will be affected by rising energy prices, it seems few things arouse more passions these days then "oil plato" (or how it is often, but incorrectly, called the oil peak) and how it affects the civilization and different countries. The key fact is that EROEI (energy return on energy invested) of oil extraction is rising dramatically for the last two decades and it looks like this trend will continue. The current world oil production has EROEI around 40 so you extract forty times as much of energy then you spend for extraction.
New oil discoveries have EROEI around 10 (with bitumen oil sand EROEI in single digits). And EROEI also the source of the current disconnect between the purchasing power of money and the resources available to back that up. Pessimists say that a further increase in fuel prices is inevitable, and sooner or later the world will face a kind of "offshoring apocalypse". That's unlikely as important part of neoliberal regime is the new level of global communications and this part will be by-and-large intact. But transportation costs will affect the globalization in a negative way without any dount. For example with EROEI in single digits mass air travel will come to a screeching halt.
At the same time the end of cheap hydrocarbons era might marks the start of fuel wars, which, as such, will be a drastic reversal of globalization, playing the same role as WWI. When each state will try to pull the energy blanket, globalization trends will definitely suffer.
Rise of cost of energy makes both offshoring of manufacturing and outsourcing of service jobs to other countries less viable. A growing number of American companies are moving their manufacturing back to the United States. This emerging "re-shoring movement" has to be kept in proportion. Most of the multinationals involved are bringing back only some tiny fraction of their production destined for the American market. Much of what they had moved over the past few decades remains overseas. Moreover some firms like Caterpillar decided to move research and development facilities in China as split between manufacturing and research badly affects both research and the quality of final products.
But re-shoring tendencies can't be easily dismissed. They are driven by powerful forces which might only get stronger with time. Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in April 2012, notes that 37% of those with annual sales above $1 billion are planning shifting production facilities from China to America. Of the very biggest firms, with sales above $10 billion, the number reached 48%. Among reason sites are rising Chinese labor costs and transportation costs. Many shipping companies slowed the speed of their ship (increasing the delivery time) in order to fight rising oil prices. As Economist, the flagship of neoliberal establishment thought in GB, noted (Reshoring manufacturing):
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology looked at 108 American manufacturing firms with multinational operations last summer. It found that 14% of them had firm plans to bring some manufacturing back to America and one-third were actively considering such a move. A study last year by the Hackett Group, a Florida-based firm that advises companies on offshoring and outsourcing, produced similar results. It expects the outflow of manufacturing from high- to low-cost countries to slow over the next two years and the reshoring to double over the previous two years. “The offshoring of manufacturing is now rapidly moving towards equilibrium [zero net offshoring],” says Michel Janssen, the firm’s head of research.
By contrast, pay and benefits for the average Chinese factory worker rose by 10% a year between 2000 and 2005 and speeded up to 19% a year between 2005 and 2010, according to BCG. The Chinese government has set a target for annual increases in the minimum wage of 13% until 2015. Strikes are becoming more frequent, and when they happen, says one executive, the government often tells the plant manager to meet workers’ demands immediately. Following labour unrest, wages at some factories have gone up steeply. Honda, a Japanese carmaker, gave its Chinese workers a 47% pay rise after strikes in 2010. Foxconn Technology Group, a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industries, a Taiwanese firm that does a lot of manufacturing for Apple and other big technology firms, doubled pay at its factory complex in Shenzhen after a series of suicides. Its labour troubles are still continuing.
...As soon as 2015, says Hal Sirkin, a consultant at the firm, it will cost about the same to manufacture goods for the American market in certain parts of America as in China in many industries, including computers and electronics, machinery, appliances, electrical equipment and furniture. That calculation takes into account a wide variety of direct costs, including labour, property and transport, as well as indirect ones such as supply-chain risk.
...“Pay for senior management in several emerging markets, such as China, Turkey and Brazil, now either matches or exceeds pay in America and Europe”
So while production and service outsourcing overseas or offshoring can still provide substantial cost savings for many companies, the question arise whether those cost savings are sustainable (Can outsourcing overseas provide sustainable cost savings).
Bushonomics is the continuous consolidation of money
and power into higher, tighter and righter hands
George Bush Sr, November 1992
Neoliberalism is not a collection of theories meant to improve the economy. Instead, it should be understood as a strategy of "class struggle" (in Marxist terms) designed to redistribute wealth upward toward an increasingly narrow fraction of population (top 1%). The essence of neoliberalism is well reflected in the listed above George Bush Sr. quote "...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands". Kind of revolt of the elite against common people, instead of revolt of proletarians against capitalists. The attempt to redistribute the wealth of nations in favor of the top 1% and especially top 0.01%.
From the very beginning neoliberalism was a project to restore of class power of US corporations owners and first of all financial oligarchy ("financial revanchism" was the major driver of neoliberalism), which was undermined by New Deal.
So it is not surprising the during neoliberal revolution (or more correctly counter-revolution) in the USA all redistributive postwar state capitalism policies that hurt financial elite came under attack. With the demise of the USSR, the necessity of such policies to ensure social peace disappeared and the elite (and first of all financial elite) got a carte blanch for decimating middle class, and redistributing the wealth up. Golden days of the US middle class not ended not exactly with the election of Reagan (remember his decimation of air traffic controller union) but with the election of Mr. Gorbachov. And they became a distant past under Clinton who sold Democratic Party to financial oligarchy and only become worse and worse under Bush II and Obama (who, social policy-wise, is just well-tanned Bush III). And on international arena brutal enforcement of Washington consensus became a norm. So Ukraine got under the same neoliberal steamroller.
Neoliberalism promises of "better future" for population outside top 1% were by and large political scam. In best case no more then top 20% of population can benefit from neoliberal policies. And that's in best case, which is applicable probably only to G7 countries. And the other bottom 80% experience a sharp decline of their standard of living. For "peripheral countries like Ukraine, Iraq, Chili, etc) instead of 80:20 the proportion in probably 90:10.
All-in-all neoliberalism as a social system always lower the average standard of life of people in countries which adopted it, never rise it. That happened even in countries which historically has very low standard of living of middle class such as former USSR republics and Eastern Europe. At the same time it tremendously improved standard of living of upper 10% (20% in case of G7 countries) of population, and, especially, the top 1% - the new aristocracy. And that top 10% has enough political power to keep and consolidate neoliberal counter-revolution and with help of G7 countries to spread it around the globe.
Transnational elite "International" proved be both more viable and durable then "proletarian International" envisioned by Marx and his followers. That does not mean that elites from other countries are treated as equal partners. No they are treated as "villagers that came to the city" but still they are given a chance to "merge" with local "aristocracy of wealth".
The USA is the center on neoliberal order, its capital. Neoliberalism is supported by projection of the USA military power and the use of US capital. It forces global economic integration on US terms at whatever costs to others. But with those reservations it is as close to "oligarchy of all countries unite" as one can get.
In a way Marx probably is turning in his grave, as his ideas were hijacked and implemented by the part of population he considered to be doomed. In other words Marxist idea of "class struggle" was turned to its head and converted into pervert "revolt of the elite" (and first of all financial oligarchy), unsatisfied with the piece of the pie it is getting from the society and stimulated by technological revolution (emergence of Internet and cheap mass produced computers). Neoliberal philosophy can be distilled into a single phrase: "Humanity begins at the rank of CEO" or as George Bush Sr, aptly said November 1992 it is "...the continuous consolidation of money and power into higher, tighter and righter hands."
Some authors like Colin Cronch in The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism consider it to be a new ruling class alliance. His basic idea is that at least in USA neoliberalism represents the shift of loyalty of the upper management class: following the Great Depression of 1930 a political alliance emerged between the upper management class and "salaried middle class" (which includes the top layer of blue and white collar workers, including quasi-management, clerical workers, and professionals, and which cannot be reduced to the traditional "working-class"). A severe profitability crisis of the 1970s with its inflationary excesses caused a fracture between upper management and "salaried middle class". From that point upper management allied with owners and financial oligarchy forming a new ruling class.
This neoliberal transformation of the society with the redistribution of wealth to the top 1% (or, more correctly, the top 0.01%) "have and have more" (as unforgettable G.W.Bush quipped) was completed in the USA in late 90th. The rest of population (aka moochers) and organization such as trade unions were undermined and decimated by financial oligarchy with near complete indifference to what happens with the most unprotected lower quintile of the population.
Like Russia in the past under Bolsheviks the USA became occupied country. And much like Bolsheviks in the past, the neoliberal reformers don't care about failures and contradictions of the economic system which drive the majority of country population into abject poverty. No they care about that their action such a blowing out financial bubble like in the USA in 2008 which definitely could move national economics toward the disaster ("off the cliff"). They have somewhat childish, simplistic "greed is good" mentality: they just want to have their (as large as possible) piece of economic pie fast and everything else be damned.
To that extent they have mentality of criminals and neoliberalism is a highly criminogenic creed, but it tried to conceal the racket and plunder it inflicts of the societies under dense smoke screen of "free market" Newspeak. That means that outside the USA and G7 countries which are the major beneficiaries of this "hyper globalization of élites" neoliberalism is an unstable social order, as plunder can't continue indefinitely. and as natural resources become more scarce, the fight for them might give advantages to "Asian" autocratic flavor of state capitalism.
Problems inherent in neoliberal model were also by-and-large masked for two decades by a huge shot in arms Neoliberalism got with the dissolution of the USSR. This particular event (which was just a decision of part on nomenklatura including KGB to join neoliberal counter-revolution) put on the dinner table of neoliberal elites half a billion people and quite a bit of resources to plunder. This gift of a century from Bolsheviks slowed down the process of plunder of G7 own population, especially in the USA. It is interesting to note that, like Bolsheviks in the past, neoliberal elite behaves more like occupiers of the country, then as a traditional, "native" aristocracy; this phenomenon was especially pronounced in Russia (privatization under Yeltsin regime) and other xUSSR countries. And in xUUSR space new neoliberal lords were almost as brutal as German occupiers during WWII.
So later neoliberalism in came under pressure even in G7 countries, including the USA, as slogan on a corner Wall Street cafe "Jump Suckers !" demonstrated so aptly in 2008 and later in Occupy Wall Street Movement (which probably should be named "get rid of Wall Street occupation of the country"). The latter was quickly undermined, dissipated by the emerging National Security State. Total surveillance makes opposition movements practically impossible.
Neoliberalism was also partially reversed in Chile (the first country on which neoliberal counter-revolution was launched), Russia, and several other countries. It was never fully adopted in northern Europe or Asian countries. The model of autocratic state capitalism used in Asian countries actually serves as the only viable and competing with the neoliberalism modern social organization. Move of manufacturing centers to China and other East Asian countries also moves political influence toward this region, away from the USA and G7. Recently China managed slightly push back western global brands in electronics (especially in Eastern European markets), producing competitive smartphones (Huawey, Fly, Lenovo), tablets (Lenovo), PCs and networking equipment such as routers and switches under this own brand names.
Neoliberalism was enforced under dense smoke screen of propaganda. One can see an example of this smoke screen in Thatcher's dictum of neoliberalism: "There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals and families." In foreign policy neoliberalism behaves like brutal imperialism (aka neocolonialism) which subdue countries instead of brute force either by debt slavery or combination of debt slavery with direct military intervention. In neoliberal view the world consist of four concentric cycles which in order of diminishing importance are
In other words, finance and transnational financial institutions are considered to be the most important institutions of the civilization, the institutions which should govern all other spheres of life. It is clear that such one-dimensional view is wrong, but neoliberals like communists before them have a keen sense of mission and after they managed to accomplish its "long march through the institutions" (during which they gradually hijacked them in what is called quite coup) they changed the way Americans think (Using the "Four M" strategy -- money, media, marketing, and management)
A well-oiled machine of foundations, lobbies, think-tanks, economic departments of major universities, publications, political cadres, lawyers and activist organizations slowly and strategically took over nation after nation. A broad alliance of neo-liberals, neo-conservatives and the far right (including neo-fascists and religious right) successfully manufactured a new common sense, assaulted Enlightenment values and formed a new elite, the top layer of society, where this "greed is good" culture is created and legitimized.
As Crouch says in his book The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism:
a polity in which economic resources were very unequally shared would be likely to be one in which political power was also concentrated, economic resources being so easily capable of conversion into political ones. (Page 125)
... ... ...
...the state, seen for so long by the left as the source of countervailing power against markets, is today likely to be the committed ally of giant corporations, whatever the ideological origins of the parties governing the state. (Page 145)
Its key ethical principle of neoliberalism (only for the elite, never for prols or middle class) is "Greed is good" (as Gordon Gekko the personage of Wall Street (1987 film) quipped in the film). This strata of people (which starts on the level of CEO of major corporation) who preach those principle is assumed to be Übermensch. People below are considered to be "under humans", or "inferior humans" (Untermenschen)
According to Wikipedia, the inspiration for the "Greed is good" speech seems to have come from two sources. The first part, where Gekko complains that the company's management owns less than three percent of its stock, and that it has too many vice presidents, is taken from similar speeches and comments made by Carl Icahn about companies he was trying to take over. The defense of greed is a paraphrase of the May 18, 1986, commencement address at the UC Berkeley's School of Business Administration, delivered by arbitrageur Ivan Boesky (who himself was later convicted of insider-trading charges), in which he said, "Greed is all right, by the way. I want you to know that. I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself".
As Pope Francis notes glorification of greed is socially destructive. While in all previous "classic" religions (including such social religion as Marxism) excessive greed was morally condemned, neoliberalism employed a slick trick of adopting "reverse", Nietzschean Ubermench morality. Here is a relevant quote from his Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013
One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
No to a financial system which rules rather than serves
57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside of the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.
Like Bolshevism and National Socialism before neoliberalism needs a huge propaganda machine comparable with the propaganda machines of Bolsheviks and the Third Reich. Neoliberal ethics is pushed through the throat by hundreds of radio stations, cable TV channels (with Fox as the most prominent stooge of neoliberal propaganda), magazines and newspapers (Wall Street Journal, NYT, etc). This ethics is presented as a specific philosophy of Randism which is an ultimate expression of neoliberal ethics.
Here analogy with Bolshevism became even more stark. When you think about the current Republican Party, you can distinguish a small circle of ideologues consisting by-and-large of Ayn Rand followers. In a way it reminds the original Ann Rand circle called "collective", which like Bolshevik's core consisted of Jewish intellectuals, such as Greenspan. And that is not a positive characteristic. Murray Rothbard, a member of Rand's circle for several months in 1958, described the Randroids as “posturing, pretentious, humorless, robotic, nasty, simple-minded....dazzlingly ignorant people.” (Sex, Ayn Rand and the Republican Party)
Like in Marxism the view of other classes (in this case lower classes) by this new alliance is hostile. They are parasites, moochers, etc (exactly like capitalist class in Marxism), all feeding from the state, which in turn deprives "masters of the university" the spoils of their ingenious activity. Neoliberalism professes open and acute hostility to "lower classes", as if modeled on Bolsheviks hatred of "capitalists". This hate (like hate in general) paradoxically gives neoliberalism a driving force: as Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen quipped: "Some people are molded by their admirations, others by their hostilities."
And this Ubermench feature of neoliberalism attracts young people in the same way they were attracted to national socialism with its hate of racially inferior nations. In a way neoliberalism converted the concept of "Arian race" into the concept of morally and intellectually superior transnational elite.
Neoliberalism was not an accident, it was a development that appeared slightly different forms in many countries, including such diverse as the USA (Reagan), GB (Thatcher), China (Deng Xiaoping was a neoliberal reformer), Chile(Pinochet), Russia (Yeltsin gang), and many other countries. Since the late 1970s, a shift of economic activity from the production of goods and non-financial services to finance has been adopted as mean to escape diminishing return on capital. The oil crisis of the 1970s was probably another factor in the decision of the elite (and it was decision, a conscious choice, not an accident) to switch to neoliberal policies.
During its history which starts around 70th (with the first major success the Pinochet's coup de etat in Chile, which was supported by the USA), neoliberalism undergone several basic stages of development:
Neoliberalism is characterized by flow of the capital to the USA and other major western countries, rather than spreading the wealth from the wealthy center to the poorer periphery due to denominating a growing proportion of "third world" (and some first world countries like Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Spain) countries debt in external currency (euro or dollars). This increased the debt burden and the level of political dependence on the USA and other major Western countries. "Dollarized" countries became political satellites of the USA (a classic example here is Yeltsin's Russia), with weakened "privatized" economy (which amounted to sell of assets to foreigners on pennies for a dollar) and are forced into debt slavery via the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its sister institution, the World Bank. As professor Hudson noted (Financial Capitalism v. Industrial Capitalism, 1998):
These institutions are imposing the same creditor-oriented monetarism that wrecked the world economy in the 1920s, triggering the Great Depression. Instead of helping the world’s poorer debtor economies develop, the IMF and World Bank programs ‘underdevelop’ them, polarizing their economies between a wealthy top layer and poverty for the vast majority. Turned into a U.S. Cold War arm under the stewardship of Robert McNamara, the World Bank has become a powerful arm of the new global class war, most notoriously Russia and East Asia.
The upshot has been to leave the world’s poorer economies even deeper in debt, and so financially strapped that they are obliged to sell off to international financial institutions whatever assets remain in their public domain. While wealth and incomes have polarized as a result of the active intervention of the World Bank and IMF on behalf of the ruling kleptocracies throughout Africa, Latin America and Asia, the physical environments of these debtor economies have been devastated by the ecological consequences of the World Bank’s raw-materials export programs. Pandemics have broken out as public health programs have been dismantled as domestic budgets have been stripped to service the mounting foreign debt. This has impaired the ability of governments to contain new diseases and undertake ameliorative social spending.
It was the attack on Serbia (March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999) that helped many countries to realize that neoliberalism is a road to nowhere and the USA went too far in its "sole superpower" role. During the campaign, 2,300 air attacks were carried out on 995 facilities around Serbia and 1,150 fighter jets fired nearly 420,000 missiles to the total weight of 22,000 tons. NATO fired 1,300 cruise missiles, dropped 37,000 cluster bombs which killed around 200 individuals and caused injuries to several hundred more people. The forces also used banned depleted uranium ammunition. Later the same scenario was repeated in Iraq with substantially larger amount of victims (over on million, by some estimates).
Backlash for neoliberalism in Russia stated almost immediately after attack on Yugoslavia.
Later Putin explicitly position Russia as the the country that rejects the role of the USA as the
center of neoliberal empire, while at the same time not rejecting neoliberalism per se.
Zombie stage (post-neoliberalism). This stage started in 2008 and still continues.
The implosion of the entire global banking/mortgage industry in 2008 has essentially delegitimized neoliberalism as an economic and social model which the U.S. has been pleased to espouse as the royal road to prosperity for decades. It signified the "the beginning of the end" if we use Churchill words of Washington Consensus. But in now way it means that period of neoliberal revolutions came ot the end. Inertia and the level of technological and cultural dominance of the USA and its allies (G7) is such that even after bankruptcy as an ideology, neoliberalism continues to its world expansion and claims new victims among "resource nationalists" or simply "not neoliberal enough" regimes. After 2008 Libya, Syria and Ukraine were successfully "regime changed". I think Ukraine, which was a neoliberal state even before EuroMaydan is a special case and much of EuroMaydan events were connected with the desire to "put Russia in place" by Washington (and its European poodles) and to expand markets by Germany.
If we assume that Marxism as a political philosophy was dead around 1970 when it became evident that working class does not represent the new dominant class and communist party regime is unable to secure higher standard of living for people then advanced capitalist societies, and never will, and that The Iron Law of Oligarchy in applicable to the USSR no less that to any Western country, it took 20 years for the USSR to collapse after that.
I would assume that neoliberalism is probably twice more resilient, so 40-50 years might be a reasonable estimate. Much depends on the dynamics of the price of oil, as globalization and thus forces of neoliberalism are inherently dependent on cheap hydrocarbons. High prices or relative scarcity that affects transcontinental trade might damage neoliberalism and undermine the fifth column that support it in.
Also high cost of hydrocarbons means "end of growth", and neoliberalism financial scheme based on cheap credit. It might implode in the environment of slow, or close to zero growth.
That means that consistent price of oil, say, over 120 is a direct threat to neoliberal project in the USA. Even with prices over $100 the major neoliberal economics entered the stage of "secular stagnation". It also makes the US military which is the largest consumer of oil in the USA much more expensive to run and increase the costs of neoliberal "wars for regime change", essentially curtailing neoliberal expansion. Or at least making it more difficult. The same is true about financiering of color revolutions, which as a new type of neoliberal conquests of other countries, also require some cash, although not at the scale of "boots on the ground".
It is possible to lower the oil price, as happened at the end of 2014, but the question is how long this period will last.
At this point ideology of neoliberalism as an ideology is completely discredited and its fake nature is evident to large part of global elite (which probably never have any illusions from the very beginning) as well, which is more dangerous, large part of middle class. It still is supported by pure military and financial power of the USA and its allies as well as technological superiority of the West in general. So only postulates of neoliberalism, especially as for free market absolutization, started to be questioned. And partically revised (increased financial regulation is one example). This form of neoliberalism with the core ideology intact but modified one of several postulates can be called post-neoliberalism.
The USA still remains the most powerful country in the world with formidable military, and still behave as a word hegemon and the only source of justice ignoring US and other International organization, unless it if convenient to them. But as Napoleon noted "You can do anything with bayonets, but you can't sit on them". Running aggressive foreign policy on a discredited ideology and relying on blunt propaganda is a difficult undertaking as resistance mounts and bubble out in un-anticipated areas (Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk in Ukraine are recent example, when neoliberal color revolution, which was performed by few thousands trained by the West far right militants, including openly neo-fascist squads, led to civil war in the country).
Still, unfortunately, Libya, Syria and Ukraine, were not probably a swan song of muscular enforcement of neoliberal model on other countries. While sponsored by the USA and allies anti-Putin putsch in Russia (aka white revolution") failed, events in Libya and Ukraine prove the neoliberalism sill can launch and win offensives (aka color revolutions). At the cost of plunging the country into economic and political chaos including civil war.
Rule of financial oligarchy also gradually comes under some (although very limited) scrutiny in the USA. Some measures to restrict appetites of financial oligarchy were recently undertaken in Europe (bank bonuses limitations).
HFT and derivatives still remain off-reach for regulators despite JP Morgan fiasco in May 2012 in London branch. Trade loss was around two billions, decline of bank value was around $13bn (The Guardian) At this stage most people around the world realized that as Warren Buffett's right-hand man Charlie Munger quipped in his CNBC interview Trusting banks to self-regulate is like trusting to self-regulate heroin addicts. At the meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) heads of states in the spring of 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the death of “the Washington Consensus” — the famous list of market-liberalizing policy prescriptions that guided the previous 20 or 30 years of neoliberal expansion into third world countries (Painter 2009).
Prominent economists in the United States and elsewhere pointed out that after decades of reform, market-liberalizing policies had not produced the promised benefits for either economic growth or social welfare of countries were those policies were applied (Stiglitz 2002, 2006; Rodrik 2006). These criticisms further undermined the legitimacy of neoliberal governance, exactly the same way as similar criticism undermined socialist model of the USSR and Eastern Europe. the probem is that while socialist experiment could be compared with the Western countries capitalism achivement, here there is no alternative model with which to compare.
Still a backlash directed at the USA is mounting even from the former loyal vassals. Even the UK elite starts to display the behavior that contradict its role of the obedient US poodle. The atmosphere is which the USA is considered "guilty" of pushing though the throats of other countries a utopia that harmed them is a different atmosphere for the US oligarchy that the role of it accustomed to. Now the US oligarchy has found itself in USSR nomenklatura shoes and eventually might be called to answer for their global actions which similar to Opium Wars of the British can be called Dollar Wars.
Everybody is now aware of the substantial costs that the modern financial system has imposed on the real economy, especially in developing countries, and no amount of propaganda and brainwashing can hide this simple fact.
Standard of living was rising slowly and after 2008 mostly stopped to rise and started to detiorate reflecting higher energy prices and the level on indebtness of many countries (Greece, Spain, Portugal, Bulgaria, Ukraine, etc). So the key promise of neoliberalism that "trickle down" from super rich will be enough to sustain better standard of living for all proved to be a confidence game.
It is questionable that the "financial innovations" of the last three-four decades can compensate for those huge costs and that they warrants those costs. Shocks generated within the financial system and transformation of economies imposed by international financial oligarchy as the core of neoliberal elite, implies that the rule of financial oligarchy creates negative externalities for societies and that some types of financial activities and some financial structures should be treated like an organized crime (in other words as purely parasitic, extortionist type of players).
Still this stage preserves several attributes of previous stage and first of all push for globalization and aggressive foreign policy. While economic crisis of 2008 destroyed legitimacy of ideology of neoliberalism, neoliberalism as an ideology continue to exists as a cult, much like communism as an ideology continues to exist, despite the failure of the USSR. And being phony ideology from the very beginning, a smokescreen for the revanchism of financial oligarchy, it still can be promoted by unrelenting propaganda machine of the same forces which put it into mainstream albeit with les efficiency.
So far no viable alternatives emerged, and inertia is still strong, as strong as G7 block with the USA as the head of the block. Like in 20th failure of neoliberalism led to rise of nationalism, especially in Europe (France, Hungary, Ukraine). In some countries, such as Ukraine, the net result of neoliberal revolution was establishing a far right regime which has uncanny similarities to the régimes which came to power in 30th such as Franko regime in Spain. The phase of neoliberal dominance still continues, it is just the central idea of neoliberalism, the fake idea of self-regulating markets that was completely discredited by the crisis of 2008. Actually it was discredited before during Great Depression, but the generation that remembered this lesson is now extinct (it looks like it takes approximately 50 years for humanity to completely forget the lessons of history ;-).
Latin America, once paragon of a neoliberal revolution (Chile, Argentina, Mexico, etc), is now dominated by left-wing governments elected on explicitly anti-neoliberal platforms. Around the world, economists and policymakers now come to consensus that excessive reliance on unregulated financial markets and the unrestrained rule of financial oligarchy was the root cause of the current worldwide financial crisis. That created a more difficult atmosphere for the USA financial institutions to operate abroad. Several countries are now trying to limit role of dollar as the world currency (one of the sins Saddam Hussein paid the price).
Also internal contradictions became much deeper and the neoliberal regime became increasingly unstable even in the citadel of neoliberalism -- the USA. Like any overstretched empire it became hollow within with stretches on potholes ridden roads and decaying infrastructure visible to everyone. Politically, the Republican Party became a roadblock for any meaningful reform (and its radical wing -- the tea party even sending its representatives to Congress), the Party that is determined to rather take the USA the road of the USSR, then change its ideology. All this points to the fact that neoliberalism as an socio-economic doctrine is following the path of Bolshevism.
But its media dominance of neoliberalism paradoxically continues unabated. And this is despite the fact that after the crisis of 2008, the notion that finance mobilizes and allocates resources efficiently, drastically reduces systemic risks and brings significant productivity gains for the economy as a whole became untenable. We can expect that like was the case with Catholicism in middle ages and Bolshevism in the USSR, zombie phase of neoliberalism can last many decades (in the USSR, "zombie" state lasted two decades, say from 1970 to 1991, and neoliberalism with its emphasis on low human traits such as greed and supported by military and economic power of the USA, is considerably more resilient then Bolshevism). As of 2013 it is still supported by elites of several major western states (such as the USA, GB, Germany, France), transnational capital (and financial capital in particular) and respective elites out of the sense of self-preservation. That means that is it reasonable to expect that its rule in G7 will continue (like Bolshevism rule in the USSR in 70th-80th) despite probably interrupted by bursts of social violence (Muslim immigrants in Europe are once such force).
In the US, for example, income and wealth inequality continue to increase, with stagnating middle-class earnings, reduced social mobility, and an allegedly meritocratic higher education system, generously supported by tax exemptions, has been turned into the system whose main beneficiaries are the children of the rich and successful. Superimposed on this class divide is an increasingly serious intergenerational divide, and increases level of unemployment of young people, which make social atmosphere somewhat similar to the one in Egypt, although the pressure from Muslim fundamentalists is absent.
More and more neoliberalism came to be perceived as a ruse intended to safeguard the interests of a malignantly narcissistic empire (the USA) and of rapacious multinationals. It is now more and more linked with low-brow cultural homogeneity, social Darwinism, encroachment on privacy, mass production of junk, and suppression of national sentiments and aspiration in favor of transnational monopolies. It even came to be associated with a bewildering variety of social ills: rising crime rates, unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, organ trafficking, and other antisocial forms of conduct.
While ideology of neoliberalism is by-and-large discredited, the global economic institutions associated with its rise are not all equally moribund. For example, the global economic crisis of 2008 has unexpectedly improved the fortunes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization long famous for the neoliberal policy conditions attached to its loans that served to incorporate countries into a global neoliberal economic system. In 2008, a cascade of financial crises in Eastern Europe and Iceland fattened the IMF’s dwindling loan portfolio.
World Trade Organization (WTO), the key US-used and abused universal opener of markets to US corporations and investments is in worse shape then IMF, but still is viable too. The Doha round of negotiations is stalled, mostly due to irresolvable disputes between developed and developing countries. Consequently, the current crisis of neoliberalism raises many important questions about the future path of the current international institutions promoting the neoliberal order. But still Russia joined WTO in 2012 which means that this organization got a new lease of life.
Nonetheless, that "neoliberalism in name only" is still a powerful global "brand" which the U.S. seeks to maintain at all costs for macro geopolitical reasons (The Great Crash, 2008: A Geopolitical Setback for the West , Foreign Affairs)
The financial and economic crash of 2008, the worst in over 75 years, is a major geopolitical setback for the United States and Europe. Over the medium term, Washington and European governments will have neither the resources nor the economic credibility to play the role in global affairs that they otherwise would have played. These weaknesses will eventually be repaired, but in the interim, they will accelerate trends that are shifting the world's center of gravity away from the United States.
A brutal recession is unfolding in the United States, Europe, and probably Japan -- a recession likely to be more harmful than the slump of 1981-82. The current financial crisis has deeply frightened consumers and businesses, and in response they have sharply retrenched. In addition, the usual recovery tools used by governments -- monetary and fiscal stimuli -- will be relatively ineffective under the circumstances.
This damage has put the American model of free-market capitalism under a cloud. The financial system is seen as having collapsed; and the regulatory framework, as having spectacularly failed to curb widespread abuses and corruption. Now, searching for stability, the U.S. government and some European governments have nationalized their financial sectors to a degree that contradicts the tenets of modern capitalism.
Much of the world is turning a historic corner and heading into a period in which the role of the state will be larger and that of the private sector will be smaller. As it does, the United States' global power, as well as the appeal of U.S.-style democracy, is eroding.
The USA was and probably will remain the center of neoliberalism and firmly established as most important and the most powerful promoter of the doctrine (in some case, like with Serbia, Iraq and Libya, on the tips of bayonets).
After the dissolution of the USSR the US elite felt that "everything is permitted" and essentially started to pursue global Roman style imperial policy. The USA military forces are active over most of the globe: about 226 countries have US military troops, 63 of which host American bases, while only 46 countries in the world have no US military presence. This is a projection of military power that makes the Roman, British, and Soviet empires pale in comparison. In his 1919 essay, “The Sociology of Imperialisms,” Joseph Schumpeter wrote of Rome during its years of greatest expansion.
As G. John Ikenberry, professor of geopolitics at Georgetown University noted in Foreign Affairs:
There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, then allies would be invented. When it was utterly impossible to contrive such an interest—why, then it was the national honor that had been insulted.
The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. Rome was always being attacked by evil-minded neighbors, always fighting for a breathing-space. The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies, and it was manifestly Rome’s duty to guard against their indubitably aggressive designs.*
The new grand strategy [initiated by the Bush administration]…. begins with a fundamental commitment to maintaining a unipolar world in which the United States has no peer competitor. No coalition of great powers without the United States will be allowed to achieve hegemony. Bush made this point the centerpiece of American security policy in his West Point commencement address in June: “America has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenges—thereby making the destabilizing arms races of other eras pointless, and limiting rivalries to trade and other pursuits of peace.”
…The United States grew faster than the other major states during the decade [of the 1990s], it reduced military spending more slowly, and it dominated investment in the technological advancement of its forces. Today, however, the new goal is to make these advantages permanent—a fait accompli that will prompt other states to not even try to catch up. Some thinkers have described the strategy as “breakout,” in which the United States moves so quickly to develop technological advantages (in robotics, lasers, satellites, precision munitions, etc.) that no state or coalition could ever challenge it as global leader, protector and enforcer (“America’s Imperial Ambition,” Foreign Affairs, October 2002).
Perhaps one of extreme expressions of this neo-Roman imperial policy became that book by The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives by Zbigniew Brzezinski. This is how Brzezinski views the (supposedly sovereign) nations of Central Asia (sited from Amazon review by "A Customer" Jan 3, 2002 as pawns in a greater game for geopolitical domination:
The quote "... the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together." (The Grand Chessboard p.40) is probably the most revealing. Just ponder the meaning of these statements in a post-9-11 world:
To most Americans the people of the world and other nations are just that -- people, just like us, with a right to self-determination. To Brzezinski, they are merely pawns on a chessboard. At the same time, despite the fact that the analogy are not perfect, Rome fell, Napoleon fell, Hitler fell, USSR fell. Countries with too aggressive foreign policy ultimately self-destruct, because they over-extend their own countries resources to the point when people wellbeing drops to the levels of some colonies. The USA have over million people with the security clearance. So in a way it is becoming a copy-cat of the USSR. And while the US military is busy fighting for oil interests all around the world, those wars were launched by borrowing money and it's unclear who will pay the bills.
Neoliberalism beginning as ideology start was pretty modest. It was never considered a "right" ideology, ideology for which people are ready to fight and die. It was just an "ideology of convenience", an eclectic mix of mutually incompatible and incoherent mosaic of various ideologies (including some ideas of Trotskyism and national socialism) that served as useful tool to counter communist ideology. This is the tress of Friedman pretty weak opus "Capitalism and Freedom" -- which can be considered to be close analog of Communist Manifesto for neoliberalism. It also was useful for fighting some Keynesian excesses. Only later it become favorite ideology of financial oligarchy.
So in fight against "Godless communism" which does not respect private property and used "all-powerful" state, it idealized private property ownership, the role of "free" (as in free shooting) market and stressed the necessity to control the size of the government. As a tools to fight communist ideology those were reasonably effective tools. But at some point this deeply flawed, but useful for the specific purpose framework went out of control and became the cult of the deified markets and explicitly stated the necessary of diminishing the role of the state to minimum to ensure the high level of inequality the new neoliberal elite strived for (note not optimizing for a given historical conditions and technology available, but unconditionally diminishing to the point of elimination). Reagan famous phase "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." is a perfect example of how to "Throw out the baby with the bath water". But the meaning is more sinister: it meant "throw out of the water middle class".
That happened when financial oligarchy understood that a tool created for fighting communism is perfectly suitable for fighting elements of "New Deal". And it proved to be pretty effective in dismantling of set of regulations of financial sector that were the cornerstone of "New Deal". That was a very smooth ride "deregulatory" ride until 2008. But after 2008 the USA (citadel of neoliberalism) faces the set of problems that at least on the surface look similar to the problem that USSR faced before its disintegration, although the USA still have much more favorable conditions overall and disintegration is not among the current threats. Among them:
Like was the case with the USSR, absence of effective opposition led to degeneration of the US elite. It is not at the level of the degeneration of the USSR Politburo, but generally the current roster of Republican Party associated politicians and, especially, Tea party favorites like Palin and Michel Bachman in the political mainstream are not a good sign.
Still there are important difference with Marxism: despite extremely flawed to the point of being anti-scientific neoliberal ideology is still supported by higher standard of living of population in selected Western countries (G7). If also can rely on five important factors:
The American society and the U.S. armaments industry today are different then it was when Dwight Eisenhower in his farewell speech (Eisenhower's Farewell Address to the Nation) famously warned Americans to beware the "military-industrial complex." See also The Farewell Address 50 Years Later. The major opponent, the USSR left the world scene, being defeated in the cold war. That means that currently the USA enjoy world military dominance that reminds the dominance of Roman Empire.
The USA now is the world's greatest producer and exporter of arms on the planet. It spends more on armed forces than all other nations combined -- while going deeply into debt to do so.
The USA also stations over 500,000 troops, spies, contractors, dependents, etc. on more than 737 bases around the world in 130 countries (even this is not a complete count) at a cost of near 100 billions a year. The 2008 Pentagon inventory includes 190,000 troops in 46 nations and territories, and 865 facilities in more than 40 countries and overseas U.S. territories. In just Japan, the USA have 99,295 people who are either members of US forces or are closely connected to US. The only purpose is to provide control over as many nations as possible.
Funny but among other thing the Pentagon also maintain 234 golf courses around the world, 70 Lear Jet airplanes for generals and admirals, and a ski resort in the Bavarian Alps.
Military dominance of the USA and NATO were demonstrated during Yugoslavia bombing and then invasion of Iraq. It's clear the Yugoslavia bombing would be out of question if the USSR existed.
Under neoliberalism, markets are now fused with the logic of expansion and militarization is the most logical was of securing expansion, improving global positions, and the ordering of social relations in a way favorable to the transnational elite.
Under neoliberal regime the United States is not only obsessed with militarism, which is shaping foreign policy , but wars have become real extension of the politics, the force that penetrates almost every aspect of daily life. Support of wars became a perverted version of patriotism.
As Henry A. Giroux noted in his interview to Truth-out (Violence is Deeply Rooted in American Culture), paradoxically in the country of "advanced democracy" schools and social services are increasingly modeled after prisons. Four decades of neoliberal policies have given way to an economic Darwinism that promotes a politics of cruelty.
Police forces are militarized. Popular culture endlessly celebrating the spectacle of violence. The Darwinian logic of war and violence have become addictive, a socially constructed need. State violence has become an organizing principle of society that has become the key mediating force that now holds everyday life together. State violence is now amplified in the rise of the punishing state which works to support corporate interests and suppress all forms of dissent aimed at making corporate power accountable. Violence as a mode of discipline is now enacted in spheres that have traditionally been created to counter it. Airports, schools, public services, and a host of other public spheres are now defined through a militarized language of "fight with terrorism", the language of discipline, regulation, control, and order. Human relations and behaviors are dehumanized making it easier to legitimate a culture of cruelty and politics of disposability that are central organizing principles of casino capitalism.
The national news became a video game, a source of entertainment where a story gains prominence by virtue of the notion that if it bleeds it leads. Education has been turned into a quest for private satisfactions and is no longer viewed as a public good, thus cutting itself off from teaching students about public values, the public good and engaged citizenship. What has emerged in the United States is a civil and political order structured around the criminalization of social problems and everyday life. This governing-through-crime model produces a highly authoritarian and mechanistic approach to addressing social problems that often focuses on the poor and minorities, promotes highly repressive policies, and places emphasis on personal security, rather than considering the larger complex of social and structural forces that fuels violence in the first place.
The key reference on the topic is the book The New American Militarism (2005) by Andrew Bacevich. Here is one Amazon review:
In his book The New American Militarism (2005), Andrew Bacevich desacralizes our idolatrous infatuation with military might, but in a way that avoids the partisan cant of both the left and the right that belies so much discourse today. Bacevich's personal experiences and professional expertise lend his book an air of authenticity that I found compelling. A veteran of Vietnam and subsequently a career officer, a graduate of West Point and later Princeton where he earned a PhD in history, director of Boston University's Center for International Relations, he describes himself as a cultural conservative who views mainstream liberalism with skepticism, but who also is a person whose "disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the present Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute." Finally, he identifies himself as a "conservative Catholic." Idolizing militarism, Bacevich insists, is far more complex, broader and deeper than scape-goating either political party, accusing people of malicious intent or dishonorable motives, demonizing ideological fanatics as conspirators, or replacing a given administration. Not merely the state or the government, but society at large, is enthralled with all things military.
Our military idolatry, Bacevich believes, is now so comprehensive and beguiling that it "pervades our national consciousness and perverts our national policies.
" We have normalized war, romanticized military life that formally was deemed degrading and inhuman, measured our national greatness in terms of military superiority, and harbor naive, unlimited expectations about how waging war, long considered a tragic last resort that signaled failure, can further our national self-interests. Utilizing a "military metaphysic" to justify our misguided ambitions to recreate the world in our own image, with ideals that we imagine are universal, has taken about thirty years to emerge in its present form.
It is this marriage between utopians ends and military means that Bacevich wants to annul.
How have we come to idolize military might with such uncritical devotion? He likens it to pollution: "the perhaps unintended, but foreseeable by-product of prior choices and decisions made without taking fully into account the full range of costs likely to be incurred" (p. 206). In successive chapters he analyzes six elements of this toxic condition that combined in an incremental and cumulative fashion.
- After the humiliation of Vietnam, an "unmitigated disaster" in his view, the military set about to rehabilitate and reinvent itself, both in image and substance. With the All Volunteer Force, we moved from a military comprised of citizen-soldiers that were broadly representative of all society to a professional warrior caste that by design isolated itself from broader society and that by default employed a disproportionate percentage of enlistees from the lowest socio-economic class. War-making was thus done for us, by a few of us, not by all of us.
- Second, the rise of the neo-conservative movement embraced American Exceptionalism as our national end and superior coercive force as the means to franchise it around the world.
- Myth-making about warfare sentimentalized, sanitized and fictionalized war. The film Top Gun is only one example of "a glittering new image of warfare."
- Fourth, without the wholehearted complicity of conservative evangelicalism, militarism would have been "inconceivable," a tragic irony when you consider that the most "Christian" nation on earth did far less to question this trend than many ostensibly "secular" nations.
- Fifth, during the years of nuclear proliferation and the fears of mutually assured destruction, a "priesthood" of elite defense analysts pushed for what became known as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). RMA pushed the idea of "limited" and more humane war using game theory models and technological advances with euphemisms like "clean" and "smart" bombs. But here too our "exuberance created expectations that became increasingly uncoupled from reality," as the current Iraq debacle demonstrates.
- Finally, despite knowing full well that dependence upon Arab oil made us vulnerable to the geo-political maelstroms of that region, we have continued to treat the Persian Gulf as a cheap gas station. How to insure our Arab oil supply, protect Saudi Arabia, and serve as Israel's most important protector has always constituted a squaring of the circle. Sordid and expedient self interest, our "pursuit of happiness ever more expansively defined," was only later joined by more lofty rhetoric about exporting universal ideals like democracy and free markets, or, rather, the latter have only been a (misguided) means to secure the former.
Bacevich opens and closes with quotes from our Founding Fathers. In 1795, James Madison warned that "of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other." Similarly, late in his life George Washington warned the country of "those overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty."
With dollar role as the primary world reserve currency the USA still rides on its "Exorbitant privilege". But there are countervailing forces that diminish dollar importance, such a euro. Financial dominance under neoliberalism became the primary tool of ensuring the control over the nations. See Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
US and Western banks dominate the globe with New York and London as two world financial centers.
Things little changed after 2008 despite the fact that the US economy in entered a deep debt crisis, which is amplified by the level of destruction of real economy by offshoring and outsourcing achieved under the umbrella of neoliberalism during previous four decades. While the USA remains the sole super power its imperial problems now reached such a level that they may start to affect the foreign policy. Troubles of organizing an invasion in Syria are probably symptomatic. It proved to be more difficult undertaking that similar invasion of Iraq a decade earlier.
Economic troubles have important side effect: the ideological dominance, achieved by the USA during 1989 till 2008 is now under attack. There are a lot of skeptic and in a way neoliberalism goes the way of Marxism with the major difference that there were probably some sincere followers of Marxism at least during the first 30 years of its development.
Since the late 1970s, there was a radical shift of economic activity from the production of goods and non-financial services to finance with the rapid growth since then of the share of financial profits in total corporate profits. Also reflective of this process of "financialisation of the Economy" was the explosive growth of private debt as a proportion of gross domestic product, and the piling of layers upon layers of claims with the existence of instruments like options, futures, swaps, and the like, and financial entities like hedge funds and structured investment vehicles.
With financialisation, the financial masturbation -- speculation directed on making money within the financial system, bypassing the route of commodity production, increasingly became the name of the game. Using Marxist terminology the general formula for capital accumulation, M-C-M', in which commodities are central to the generation of profits, was replaced by M-M', in which money simply begets more money with no relation to production.
This is related to the reason which brought on the financialization of the economy in the forefront: beginning with the sharp recession of 1974-75, the US economy entered a period of slow economic growth, high unemployment/underemployment and excess capacity. That happened after around 25 years of spectacular ascent following the second world war. So financialisation was thought a s a remedy to this "permanent stagnation" regime. And for a while it performed this function well, although it was done by "eating the host".
Finance under any neoliberalism-bound regime can be best understood as a form of warfare, and financial complex (typically large Western banks as locals are not permitted, unless specially protected by remnants of the nation state) as an extension of military-industrial complex. Like in military conquest, its aim is to gain control for occupying country of land, public infrastructure, and to impose tribute putting the country in debt and using dominance of dollar as world reserve currency. This involves dictating laws to vassal countries (imposing Washington consensus, see below) and interfering in social as well as economic planning using foreign debt and the necessity to service the foreign loans as a form of Gosplan.
The main advantage of neoliberalism in comparison with the similar practice of the past is the conquest is being done by financial means, without the cost to the aggressor of fielding an army. But the economies under attacked may be devastated as deeply by financial stringency as by military attack when it comes to demographic shrinkage, shortened life spans, emigration and capital flight. Actually following s successful attack of neoliberalism and conquest of the country by neoliberal elite Russian economy was devastated more then during WWII, when Hitler armies reached banks of Volga river and occupies half of the country.
This attack is being mounted not by nation states alone, but by a cosmopolitan financial class and international financial institutions such as World bank and IMF with full support of major western banks serving as agencies of western governments. Finance always has been cosmopolitan more than nationalistic – and always has sought to impose its priorities and lawmaking power over those of parliamentary democracies.
Like any monopoly or vested interest, the financial "Trojan horse" strategy seeks to block government power to regulate or tax it. From the financial vantage point, the ideal function of government is to enhance profits via privatization and protect finance capital from the population to allow “the miracle of compound interest" to siphon most of the revenue out of the country. Some tiny share of this revenue is paid to compradors within the national elite. In good years such tactic keeps fortunes multiplying exponentially, faster than the economy can grow. This "paradise for rentiers" last until they eat into the core and cause deindustrialization and severe debt crisis. Eventually they do to the economy what predatory creditors and rentiers did to the Roman Empire.
The globalist bloc of Western countries led by the USA achieved hegemony in the end of the twentieth century because it managed to become the center of technological progress and due to this acquired a commanding influence over industrial production and social life around the world, including the ability to provide rewards and impose sanctions. One or the reason of technical backwardness of the USSR just before the dissolution were technical sanctions imposed by the West via COCOM. As most of global corporations belong to G7 this lead to "natural" technological hegemony of this block. As Thatcher used to say "There is no alternatives", although she meant there is no alternatives to neoliberalism, not to Western technology from G7 nations. Only recently Asian countries started to challenge this status quo in some areas.
Global corporation managed to create a situation in which the same goods are used in most countries of the globe. Western brand names dominate. American and European airliners, Japanese, American and German cars, Korean and American smartphones, Chinese and American PCs, etc.
China became world factory and produces lion share of goods sold under Western brands.
The debate about the USA dominance in internet and global communications reemerged in June 2008 due to revelations make about existence of the Prism program and similar program by British security services. For example, Jacob Augstein used the term "Obama's Soft Totalitarianism" in his article Europe Must Stand Up to American Cyber-Snooping published by SPIEGEL. The NSA's infrastructure wasn't built to fight Al Qaeda. It has a far greater purpose, one of which is to keep the USA as the last superpower.
The USA has capabilities of intercepting of lion share of global internet traffic and with allies tries to intercept all the diplomatic communication during major conferences and trade talk in direct violation of Vienna protocols. Latin American countries were one of the recent victims of this activity during trade talks with the USA. There were reports about snooping on UN personnel communications in NYC.
Here is an interesting comment of user MelFarrellSr in The Guardian discussion of the article NSA analysts 'willfully violated' surveillance systems, agency admits (August 24, 2013):
Here's the thing about the NSA, the GCHQ, Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, et al...
We all have to stop commenting as if the NSA and the GCHQ are in this thing on their own; the reality is that no one was supposed to know one iota about any of these programs; the NSA and the GCHQ began and put in place the structure that would allow all internet service providers, and indeed all corporations using the net, the ability to track and profile each and every user on the planet, whether they be using the net, texting, cell, and landline.
We all now know that Google, Yahoo, and the rest, likely including major retailers, and perhaps not so major retailers, are all getting paid by the United States government, hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money, our money, to profile 24/7 each and every one of us..., they know how we think, our desires, our sexual preferences, our religious persuasion, what we spend, etc.; make no mistake about it, they know it all, and what they don’t currently have, they will very soon…
These agencies and indeed all those who are paid by them, will be engaged over the next few weeks in a unified program of "perception management" meaning that they will together come up with an all-encompassing plan that will include the release of all manner of statements attesting to the enforcement of several different disciplinary actions against whomever for "illegal" breaches of policy...
They may even bring criminal actions against a few poor unfortunate souls who had no idea they would be sacrificed as one part of the "perception management" game.
Has anyone wondered why, to date, no one in power has really come out and suggested that the program must be curtailed to limit its application to terrorism and terrorist types?
Here’s why; I was fortunate recently to have given an education on how networks such as Prism, really work, aside from the rudimentary details given in many publications. They cannot, and will not, stop monitoring even one individuals activity, because to do so will eventually cause loss of the ability to effectively monitor as many as 2.5 Million individuals.
Remember the “Two to Three Hop” scenario, which the idiot in one of the hearings inadvertently spoke of; therein lies the answer. If the average person called 40 unique people, three-hop analysis would allow the government to mine the records of 2.5 million Americans Do the math; Internet usage in the United States as of June 30, 2012 reached a total of over 245,000,000 million…
The following link shows how connected the world is… http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm
We should never forget how the Internet began, and who developed it, the United States Armed Forces; initially it was known as Arpanet, see excerpt and link below…
"The Internet may fairly be regarded as a never-ending worldwide conversation." - Supreme Court Judge statement on considering first amendment rights for Internet users.
"On a cold war kind of day, in swinging 1969, work began on the ARPAnet, grandfather to the Internet. Designed as a computer version of the nuclear bomb shelter, ARPAnet protected the flow of information between military installations by creating a network of geographically separated computers that could exchange information via a newly developed protocol (rule for how computers interact) called NCP (Network Control Protocol).”
There is no government anywhere on the planet that will give up any part of the program…, not without one hell of a fight...
Incidentally, they do hope and believe that everyone will come to the same conclusion; they will keep all of us at bay for however long it takes; they have the money, they have the time, and they economically control all of us...
Pretty good bet they win...
That includes industrial espionage:
EntropyNow:Absolutely. See EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT report dated 11 July 2001 (Note it was before the 9/11 attack in the US).
Or industrial espionage?
7. Compatibility of an 'ECHELON' type communications interception system with Union law
7.1. Preliminary considerations
7.2. Compatibility of an intelligence system with Union law
7.2.1. Compatibility with EC law
7.2.2. Compatibility with other EU law
7.3. The question of compatibility in the event of misuse of the system for industrial espionage
EntropyNow -> StrawBear
The fact that they snoop on us all constantly, that's the problem. I agree that the indiscriminate surveillance is a problem. However, with such vast powers in the hands of private contractors, without robust legal oversight, it is wide open to abuse and interpretation. I believe we need to pull the plug and start again, with robust, independent, legal oversight, which respects fundamental international human rights laws In the US, the NDAA is a law which gives the government the right to indefinitely detain US citizens, without due process, without a trial, if they are suspected to be associated with ‘terrorists’. Now define ‘terrorism’?
Section 1021b is particularly worrying, concerning “substantial support.” It is wide open to interpretation and abuse, which could criminalize dissent and even investigative journalism. See Guardian’s excellent article by Naomi Wolf, 17 May 2012::
As Judge Forrest pointed out:
"An individual could run the risk of substantially supporting or directly supporting an associated force without even being aware that he or she was doing so. In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more."
In an excellent episode of Breaking the Set Feb 7 2013 Tangerine Bolen (Founder and Director, Revolutiontruth) stated that ‘Occupy London’ was designated a ‘terrorist group” officially. There are independent journalists and civil liberty activists being targeted by private cyber security firms, which are contractors for the DOD, they are being harassed and intimidated, threatening free speech and liberty for everyone, everywhere. As Naomi Wolf concludes:
“This darkness is so dangerous not least because a new Department of Homeland Security document trove, released in response to a FOIA request filed by Michael Moore and the National Lawyers' Guild, proves in exhaustive detail that the DHS and its "fusion centers" coordinated with local police (as I argued here, to initial disbelief), the violent crackdown against Occupy last fall.
You have to put these pieces of evidence together: the government cannot be trusted with powers to detain indefinitely any US citizen – even though Obama promised he would not misuse these powers – because the United States government is already coordinating a surveillance and policing war against its citizens, designed to suppress their peaceful assembly and criticism of its corporate allies.”
It seems to me that potential terrorist threats come in two sorts: the highly organised and funded groups that could commit catastrophic destruction, and the local schmucks that are really just old-fashioned losers-with-a-grudge adopting an empowering ideology.
The first group would be immensely cautious with their communications, and fall outside this sort of surveillance. The second group, if Boston and Woolwich are any evidence, are not effectively detected by these measures.
It appears very clear to me that this is runaway state power, predictably and transparently deflected with cries of "terrorism". And, perhaps most worrying, that definition of terrorism is now as wide as the state requires. Anything that embarrasses or exposes the evils of our states, including rendition, torture, and all manner of appalling injustice, is classified as a matter of 'national security', which must not be exposed lest it aid the enemy.
I know Orwell's name gets tossed around too much... but Jesus! I really hope we're not bovine enough to walk serenely into this future.
...The NSA's infrastructure wasn't built to fight Al Qaeda. It has a far greater purpose, one of which is to keep the USA as the last superpower and moral authority for the rest of the time humanity has in this world.
All this muck is hurting bad. Obama is having a tough time from all sides. All the moralists think he is a villain doing everything he promised to change. All the secret society members think he is a clown who has spilled out every secret that was painstakingly put together over decades....
The temples of neoliberalism are malls and airports ;-). And they are build all over the glone is a very similar fashion. A drunk person accidentally transfered from New Jersey to, say Kiev and put in one of mjor malls can never tell the difference :-).
English became the major international language. Both language of technology and commerce. Much like Latin was before.
In developing countries goods are sold at considerable premium (up to 100%) but generally everything that can be bought in the USA now can be bought say in Kiev. Of course affordability is drastically different, but for elite itis not a problem. That create another opportunity for the top 1% to enjoy very similar, "internationalized" lifestyle all over the globe.
Hollywood films dominate world cinemas. American computer games dominate gaming space. In a way the USA culturally is present in any country. It was amazing how quickly remnants of communist ideology were wipes out in the xUSSR countries.
Another aspect of cultural power of neoliberalism is that it accepts national elites (on some, less favorable then "primary" elites conditions) as a part of a new transnational elite, which serves as the dominant class. By class, following classic Marxism we mean a group of people who share a common relationship to the process of social production and reproduction, positioned in the society relationally on the basis of social power.
The struggle between descendant national fractions of dominant groups and ascendant transnational fractions has often been the backdrop to surface political dynamics and ideological processes in the late 20th century. These two fractions have been vying for control of local state apparatuses since the 1970s.
Trans national fractions of local elites swept to power in countries around the world in the 1980s and 1990s. They have captured the “commanding heights" of state policymaking: key ministries and bureaucracies in the policymaking apparatus — especially Central Banks, finance and foreign ministries — as key government branches that link countries to the global economy.
They have used national state apparatuses to advance globalization and to pursue sweeping economic restructuring and the dismantling of the old nation-state–based Keynesian welfare and developmentalist projects.
They have sought worldwide market liberalization (following the neoliberal model), and projects of economic integration such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the European Union. They have promoted a supra-national infrastructure of the global economy, such as the World Trade Organization, as we discuss below.
In this new, transnational social system transnational corporations are intermixed with nation-states which they have special privileges. And the state itself now serves not the people of the country (which historically were upper classes) but primarily service the interests of the transnational corporations (and, by extension, narrow strata of "comprador" elite, much like aristocracy of the past). It is now extension and projection of corporate power ("What is good for GE is good for America"). Both the transactional elite (and first of all financial oligarchy) and transnational corporation enjoy tremendous privileges under such a regime (corporate socialism, or socialism for the rich). Like Bolshevik state was formally dictatorship of proletariat but in reality was dictatorship of the elite of an ideological sect called Communist Party (so called nomenklatura), transformed nation-states like the USA, GB, France, Russia, etc now to various degrees look like dictatorships of transnational elite (transnational bourgeoisie like Marxist would say ;-) while formally remaining sovereign democratic republics. Like with Communist Parties in various countries that does not excuse antagonism or even open hostilities.
That does not eliminates completely the elites competition and for example the EU elite put a knife in the back of the US elite by adopting the euro as completing with the dollar currency (so much about transatlantic solidarity), but still internalization of elites is a new and important process that is more viable that neoliberal ideology as such. Also for any state national elite is not completely homogeneous. While that is a significant part of it that favor globalization (comprador elite or lumpen elite) there is also another part which prefer national development and is at least semi-hostile to globalism. Still the comprador part of the elite represents a very important phenomenon, a real fifth column of globalization, the part that makes globalization successful. It plays the role of Trojan horse within nation states and the name "fifth column" in this sense is a very apt name. This subversive role of comprador elite was clearly visible and well documented in Russian unsuccessful "white revolution" of 2011-2012: the US supported and financed project of "regime change" in Russia. It is also clearly visible although less well documented in other "color revolutions" such as Georgian, Serbian, and Ukrainian color revolutions. comrade Trotsky would probably turn in his coffin if he saw what neoliberal ideologies made with his theory of permanent revolution ;-).
As professor David Harvey noted in his A Brief History of Neoliberalism neoliberal propaganda has succeeded in fixating the public on a peculiar definition of "freedom" that has served as a smoke screen to conceal a project of speeding upper class wealth accumulation. In practice, the neoliberal state assumes a protective role for large and especially international corporations ("socialism for multinationals") while it sheds as much responsibility for the citizenry as possible.
The key component of neoliberal propaganda (like was the case with Marxism) was an economic theory. Like Marxism it has three components
For more information see
There is no question that neoliberalism emerged as another major world civic religion. It has its saints, sacred books, moral (or more correctly in this case amoral) postulates and the idea of heaven and hell.
Neoliberalism shares several fundamental properties with high demand religious cults. Like all fundamentalist cults, neoliberalism reduces a complex world to a set of simplistic dogmas (See Washington Consensus). All of society is viewed through the prism of an economic lens. Economic growth, measured by GDP, is the ultimate good. The market is the only and simultaneously the perfect mechanism to achieve this goal. Neoliberalism obsession with materialism have become normalized to the degree that it is hard to imagine what American society would look like in the absence of these structural and ideological features of the new and militant economic Darwinism that now holds sway over the American public. The mantra is well known: government is now the problem, society is a fiction, sovereignty is market-driven, deregulation and commodification are the way to a bright future, and the profit is the only viable measure of the good life and advanced society. Public values are a liability, if not a pathology. Democratic commitments, social relations, and public spheres are disposables, much like the expanding population of the unemployed and dispossessed. Any revolt is the threat to the neoliberal regime of truth and should be dealt with unrestrained cruelty. The market functions best with minimal or no interference from government or civil society and those who don't agree will be taken by police to the proper reeducation camps. All governments with possible exception of the US government should be minimized to allow unrestricted dominance of global corporations. The genius of neoliberalism as a cult, was its ability to cloak the US pretences of world hegemony in an aura of scientific and historical inevitability. Which again makes it very similar and in a way superior to Marxism as a cult. The collapse of the Soviet Union was the supreme, heaven sent validation of Margaret Thatcher’s claim that there was no alternative. There is only one blessed road to prosperity and peace and outside it there is no salvation, nor remission from sins.
The great economic historian Karl Polanyi observed, “The idea of a self-adjusting market implied a stark utopia.” And neoliberalism was a stunning utopia of economic determinism, one even more ambitious than that of Marx.
With all the big questions thus settled, history appeared to be at an end. There was one and only one route to prosperity and peace. All that was required was to make sure the model was correctly applied and all would be well. We all settled into our assigned roles. Capitalists retreated to the role of technocrats, eschewing risk themselves while shifting and spreading it throughout society. The rest of us were relegated to the roles not of citizens, but of consumers. Using our homes as ATMs, we filled our lives with Chinese-made goods, oblivious to the looming environmental and social costs of a runaway, unregulated consumer-driven society. Only a marginalized few questioned the basic economic structure. It was the era of homo economicus, humans in service to the economy.
Now that perfect machinery lies in pieces all around us and the global economic free fall shows no signs of ending any time soon. The fundamental reasons underlying the collapse aren’t all that difficult to discern. Central to the whole neoliberal project was the drive to rationalize all aspects of human society. Relentless efforts to cut costs and increase efficiency drove down the living standards of the vast majority, while the diminution of government and other non-commercial institutions led to increasing concentration of wealth at the very top of society. As high paying jobs in the industrial and technical sectors moved from developed countries to low wage export-based economies in the developing world, capacity soon outstripped demand and profits in the real economy began to sag. Not content with declining earnings, wealthy elites began to search for investments offering higher returns. If these couldn’t be found in the real economy, they could certainly be created in the exploding financial sector.
Once consigned to the unglamorous world of matching those with capital to invest with those with enterprises seeking to grow, finance became the powerful new engine of economic growth. No longer stodgy, bankers and brokers became sexy and glamorous. Exotic new financial instruments, called derivatives, traded on everything from commodities to weather.
This speculative frenzy was supported by a central bank only too happy to keep credit extremely cheap. Debt exploded among consumers, businesses and government alike. Creating new debt became the source of even more exotic investment vehicles, often bearing only the most tenuous of connections to underlying assets of real value, with unwieldy names such as “collateralized debt obligations” and “credit default swaps.”
All the debt and the shuffling of fictional wealth hid the underlying rot of the real economy. It was a house of cards just waiting for the slight breeze that would send it all crashing down. And a collapse in housing prices in 2008 laid bare the economic contradictions.
The fundamental contradiction underlying much that confronts us in the age of crises is an economic and social system requiring infinite growth within the confines of a finite planet. Any vision seeking to replace neoliberalism must take this contradiction into account and resolve it. The overriding market failure of our time has nothing to do with housing. It’s the failure to place any value on that which is truly most essential to our survival: clean air and water, adequate natural resources for the present and future generations, and a climate suitable for human civilization.
No such new vision is currently in sight. That this leaves everyone, neoliberals and their foes alike, in a state of uncertainty and doubt is hardly surprising. The seeming triumph of neoliberalism was so complete that it managed to inculcate itself in the psyches even of those who opposed it.
We find ourselves unsure of terrain we thought we knew well, sensing that one era has ended but unsure as to what comes next. We might do well to embrace that doubt and understand its power to free us. Our doubt allows us to ask meaningful questions again and questioning implies the possibility of real choice. Removing the intellectual straitjacket of neoliberal orthodoxy opens up the space necessary to reconsider the purpose of an economy and its proper role in a decent human society and to revisit the old debate over equity versus efficiency. It calls into question the assumption most central to homo economicus; that all humans act only to maximize their own interests.
It seems clear that the world emerging over the coming decades will look quite different from the one we now inhabit. Of necessity it will evolve in ways we can’t fully understand just yet. Old battle lines, such as the ones between capitalism and socialism, will likely fade away. Both of those models arose in a world of abundant and cheap fossil fuels and within the confines a planet with a seemingly endless capacity to absorb the wastes of our conspicuous consumption. New battle lines are already beginning to take shape.
The Revolution is Upon Us The Age of Crisis and the End of Homo Economicus Logos
I think that like is the case with Marxism, the staying power of neoliberalism is that propose the religion picture of world with its "creation history", saints, and way of salvation. In a way it plays the role similar to the role of Catholicism in middle ages (aka Dark Ages). The greed of catholic clergy in Middle ages (trade in indulgencies) is a match of the greed of neoliberals( with financial derivates replacing indulgencies ;-). It is equally hostile to any attempts to analyze it, with the minor difference that heretics that question the sanctity of free market are not burned at the stake, but ostracized. It support "new Crusades" with the same mechanism of "indulgences" for small countries that participate.
The level of hypocrisy is another shared trait. The great irony is that the USA, the world's leading proponent of neoliberalism (with the US President as a Pope of this new religion), systematically is breaking the rules when it find it necessary or convenient. With high deficit spending and massive subsidizing of defense spending and financial sector, the United States has generally use a "do as I say, not as I do" approach. And with the amount of political appointee/lobbyists shuttling back and forth between business and government, Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" looks more and more like a crushing fist of corporatist thugs. It involves dogmatic belief that the society is better off when ruled by a group of wealthy financiers and oligarchs, than by a group of professional government bureaucrats and politicians with some participation of trade unions.
The USA also dominates the cultural scene:
The United States' position as the leading maker of global culture has been basically unchallenged for the last century or so, especially in the Western world. Yet the economic power of the Western world is waning even as new nations, with new models of economic and social life, are rising. Might one -- or several -- of these nations like China, India or Brazil become new centers of global culture?
I believe that the answer to this question for the foreseeable future is "no." While the U.S.'s cultural prominence is partially related to its political, military and economic power, such power is not the only cause of America's global cultural hegemony. Rather, the U.S. offers a unique convergence of several factors, including economic opportunity, political freedom and an immigrant culture that served as a test bed for new cultural products.
Let me offer a brief account of the rise of the American film industry to suggest the way political, economic and immigrant forces shaped American cultural hegemony. In the U.S., the film industry started as commercial enterprise largely independent of state control. Movies had to adapt to market conditions to earn profit for their producers. In order to achieve this goal, American movies needed to appeal to a diverse population made up of both native-born and immigrant citizens.
As a consequence, filmmakers had to make movies that could appeal to international audiences simply to meet domestic demand. This fact helped the American film industry become globally preeminent well before the U.S. became a superpower. In other words, while U.S. military and economic power strengthened the position of the U.S. movie industry as globally dominant, that position was not dependent on U.S. military and economic power. Instead, American producers had a competitive advantage in global markets that was later cemented in place by the U.S. post-war economic and military hegemony in the West.
After the dissolution of the USSR, the USA became natural center of the "neoliberal religion" a dominant force in the new world order (the world's only superpower). And they used their newly acquired status against states which were not "friendly enough" very similar to Catholicism with its Crusades, launching a series of invasions and color revolutions against "nonbelievers" in a globalist neoliberal model. The level of plunder of Russia after the dissolution of the USSR looks like a direct replay of Crusades with the siege of Constantinople as primary example (despite stated goals, Crusades were by-and-large a monetary enterprise of the time with fig leaf of spread of Catholicism attached). This period of neoliberal crusades still continued in 2013, sometimes using various proxy to achieve "the regime change" by military means.
As we already refereed to neoliberalism as a cult an interesting question is whether neoliberalism can be viewed new "civic religion". The answer is unconditional yes, and I think that like Marxism before it should be considered to be yet another civic religion. It has it's set of holy books, Supreme being to worship, path to salvation and set of Apostils. Like communism before it propose humanity grand purpose and destiny.
Theistic and civic religions are also similar in that they both offer visions of humanity’s grand purpose and destiny.
There are also significant differences between theistic religions and civil religions. Theistic religions explicitly rely on claims of divine authority for their validity, while civil religions rely on reason and the interpretation of commonly-accepted historical knowledge. Followers of theistic religions stress the importance of faith in times of adversity, while followers of civil religions tend to have a more pragmatic attitude when reality casts doubt on their beliefs.
Civil religions are more like big social experiments than actual religions because their central claims are much more falsifiable, and their followers show evidence of holding this perception (e.g. references to “the American experiment"; the voluntary abandonment of Communism throughout Eurasia when it became clear that it wasn't working).
Communism bears so much resemblance to Christianity because, as you mentioned last week, the Western imagination was thoroughly in the grip of Christianity when Communism emerged. Communism is similar to Christianity out of practical necessity: had it not been based on the Christian template, Communism probably would have been too intellectually alien to its Western audience to have ever taken off. Luckily for the founders of Communism, they were also subjected to this Christian cultural conditioning.
With all this in mind, and given that religion is evolving phenomenon, I think that civil religion is actually a distinct species of intellectual organism which has (at least in part) evolved out of religion.
Like Marxism, neoliberalism is first and foremost a quasi religious political doctrine. But while Marxism is aimed at liberation of workers , a political doctrine neoliberalism is aimed at restoring the power of capital. Neoliberalism originated in the rich countries of Anglo-Saxon world (GB and USA) so along with open despise of poor, it always has a distinct flavor of despise for peripheral countries. In global politics, neoliberalism preoccupies itself with the promotion of four basic issues:
As such, neoliberalism, in its crudest form, is crystallized in the Ten Commandments of the 1989 Washington Consensus (policy of debt slavery set for the world by the US via international financial institutions). While pushing the democracy as a smoke screen, they implicitly postulate hegemony of the financial elite (which is a part of "economic elite" that neoliberalism defines as a hegemonic class). Financialization of the economy also serves as a powerful method of redistribution of wealth, so neoliberalism generally lead to deterioration of standard of living for lower quintile of the population and in some countries (like Russia in 1991-2000) for the majority of the population. This is done largely via credit system and in this sense neoliberalism represents "reinters paradise". Neoliberal globalization was built on the foundation of US hegemony, conceived as the projection of the hegemony of the US capital and dollar as the dominant reserve currency. As such it is critically dependent of the power and stability of the US and the financial, economic, political and military supremacy of the US in every region. For this purpose the USA maintains over 500 military bases (737 by some counts) and over 2.5 million of military personnel.
But there are also important differences. Unlike most religions, neoliberalism is highly criminogenic (i.e., having the quality of causing or fostering crime). It is more criminogenic in countries with lower standard of living and in such countries it often lead to conversion of a "normal", but poor state into a kleptocratic state (Yeltsin's Russia is a good example) with the requisite mass poverty (Global Anomie, Dysnomie and Economic Crime Hidden Consequences of Neoliberalism and Globalization in Russia and Around the World). Unfortunately architects of this transformation (Harvard Mafia in case of Russia) usually avoid punishment for their crimes. Corruption of the US regulators which happened under neoliberal regime starting from Reagan is also pretty well covered theme.
While economic crisis of 2008 led to a crisis of neoliberalism, this is not necessary a terminal crisis. The phase of neoliberal dominance still continues, but internal contradictions became much deeper and the regime became increasingly unstable even in the citadel of neoliberalism -- the USA. Neoliberalism as an intellectual product is practically dead. After the crisis of 2008, the notion that finance mobilizes and allocates resources efficiently, drastically reduces systemic risks and brings significant productivity gains for the economy as a whole became untenable. But its zombie phase supported by several states (the USA, GB, Germany), transnational capital (and financial capital in particular) and respective elites out of the sense of self-preservation might continue (like Bolshevism rule in the USSR in 70th-80th) despite increasing chance of facing discontent of population and bursts of social violence.
Cornerstone of neoliberal regime, the economic power of the USA is now under threat from the rise of Asia. This is one reason of mutation of neoliberalism into aggressive neoconservative imperialism that we witness in the USA.
While intellectually neoliberalism was bankrupt from the beginning, after 2008 believing it in is possible only by ignoring the results of deregulation in the USA and other countries. In other words the mythology of self-regulating "free market" became a "damaged goods". In this sense, any sensible person should now hold neoliberal sect in contempt. But reality is different and it still enjoy the support of the part of population which can't see through the smoke screen. With the strong support of financial oligarchy neoliberalism will continue to exists in zombie state for quite a while, although I hope this will not last as long as dominance of Catholicism during European Dark Ages ;-). Still the US is yet to see its Luther. As was noted about a different, older sect: "Men are blind to prefer an absurd and sanguinary creed, supported by executioners and surrounded by fiery faggots, a creed which can only be approved by those to whom it gives power and riches".
Like communism in the USSR it is a state supported religion: Neoliberalism enjoys support of western governments and first of all the US government. Even when the US society entered deep crisis in 2008 and fabric of the society was torn by neoliberal policies it did not lose government support.
Market fundamentalism is an ideology of neoliberalism and represents a pseudo-scientific approach to economic and social policy based on neoclassical theories of economics that absolutized the role of the private business sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the state and consider privatization as the ultimate solution of all problems in the society.
Like social theories behind Italian and German versions of corporatism ideology of neoliberalism is pretty eclectic. It is discussed at some additional length at pages related to the topic Casino Capitalism on this site.
We need to note, there the neoliberal ideology adoption and implementation patterns varies from country to country, like it was actually with the classic corporatism as well. In the USA this form of corporatism emerged in most radical form. Another center of neoliberalism was GB in which it also has had a more radical form then, say, in Spain or Italy.
And we called the US version of neoliberalism radical, it is not a metaphor: corporatism under General Franco is a pale shadow of corporatism under Bush-Obama regime.
This new stage of capitalism development is often called "corporate socialism" of "socialism for rich" or "socialism for banks". The latter name is applicable because the key component of transnational elite is financial oligarchy. All of those terms reflect the key fact that at this stage of capitalism development it is the transnational elite and first of all financial oligarchy which completely dominates power structures of the society. Due to the role of financial oligarchy in this new elite this social system was also nicknamed Casino Capitalism.
Neoliberalism should probably be viewed as a further development of a form of corporatism that emerged in the USA in late 60th. It came to power in Ronald Reagan administration which was in a way quite coup. And it became completely dominant after the collapse of the USSR during Clinton regime during which Democratic Party also adopted neoliberalism as an official platform.
The term itself emerged in the 1970s, when some Latin American economists began using "neoliberalism" to designate their program of market-oriented reforms. It has come into wide use starting with 1973 Chilean coup d'état. After triumph of neoliberalism in Chile under Augusto Pinochet (from 1973) neoliberalism spread to Great Britain under Margaret Thatcher (from 1979) and then to the United States under Ronald Reagan (from 1981). Broadly speaking, neoliberalism seeks to transfer control of the economy from the public to the private sector with the state providing guarantees only to corporations and not to individual citizens like under socialism. That's why is often called "corporate socialism".
After dot-com bust of 2000-2002, however, the term "neoliberalism" had become a pejorative used to denigrate prostitution of economics performed by Milton Friedman and Chicago school . This trend increases after financial crisis of 2008-2012. So it is probably fare to say that right now neoliberalism entered the stage of decline. The last important victory of neoliberalism was probably navigating Russia into joining WTO, which happened in summer of 2012.
It has neoliberal Newspeak that include such terms as "free market", efficiency, consumer choice, transactional thinking and individual autonomy. In essence this is an modernized ideology of merger of state and corporate power that was hallmark of classic corporatism, with an additional twist of emphasizing the Arian style theories of inferiority of lower classes (reflected in promoting the "class of creators", entrepreneurs( Randism), etc) and "ultimate justice" of redistributing wealth to the top 1%.
On state level it tries to abolish social programs and completely shift the risks to individuals (replacing pensions with 401K plan in the USA), while fully providing social protection to corporations, especially financial giants involved in casino style gambling. In other words it socialize private losses and privatize social program that benefits of individual citizens.
Neocolonial aspects of neoliberalism are often called "Washington Consensus", a list of policy proposals that appeared to have gained consensus approval among the Washington-based international economic organizations (like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) and directed on making developing nations "debt slaves" of the industrialized nations. This policy got tremendous impetus with the dissolution of the USSR when the principal foe, which to certain extent limited the level of greed in such deals due to fear of "communist infiltration" if case deal is too one sided, folded.
The concept and name of the Washington Consensus were first presented in 1989 by John Williamson, an economist from the Institute for International Economics, an international economic think tank based in Washington, D.C. The list created by Williamson's included ten points:
As we mentioned before, the greatest triumph of neoliberalism was the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. After this event, there was a period of "triumphal march of neoliberalism", which lasted probably till 2005, when each year it claimed as a victory yet another country (Yeltsin neoliberal gang rule in Russia lasted till 2000, all former socialist countries were converted to neoliberal regimes shortly after, Kosovo in 1999; Serbia in 2000; Iraq in May, 2003; Georgia in December 2003; Ukraine in 2004). It also managed to stabilize and improve the situation in the USA. Plunder of Russia and other xUSSR states along with Internet revolution were two factors that influenced relative prosperity of the USA in 1994-2000.
And like Catholicism in Europe in Middle Ages, in 90th neoliberalism looked like an incontestable ideology propagated by "sole superpower" (" anew holy Roman Empire") with the help of vassals and subservient financial institutions such as World Bank and IMF. The dominance on the USA in 1991 looked rock-solid and if somebody told me in 1999 that in less then 20 years the USA would be on ropes both politically and financially I would just laugh. Still after the dissolution of the USSR neoliberalism managed to dissipate most of the gains in approximately 20 years and in 2008 entered the phase of structural crisis. As of 2013 the idea of self-regulating market is dead and even solidarity of international elites, the hallmark of neoliberalism, is under question.
The first cracks in neoliberalism facade were caused by Clinton's attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, the first armed neoliberal crusade attempted under the smoke screen of protecting the right of Kosovo Muslims in Serbia. It failed to implement "regime change" in Serbia and despite overwhelming military superiority of NATO forces has shown that bringing neoliberal regime on the tips of bayonets is a costly and high risk exercise. It took another several years and a color revolution in Serbia to achieve those goals. It did established the second Muslim state in Europe (effectively NATO protectorate), which was a part of the plan.
Color revolution in Serbia started a series of other successful color revolutions in Serbia (Serbia's Bulldozer Revolution in 2000) ,Georgia (Saakashvili regime came to power in November 2003 as a result of "Rose revolution"), Ukraine (Viktor Yushchenko regime came to power in 2004 via Orange Revolution) and several other countries.
After those successes, there were several setback: color revolutions failed in Belorussia and Russia. Results of color revolution in Ukraine were partially reversed by government of Viktor Yanukovych who ousted Yushchenko government defeating Yulia Tymoshenko in 2010 election (with Yutchshenko personally having less the 3% support). They are close to partial reversal in Georgia where Saasaskvily regime is hanging in the air.
Politically neoliberalism correlates with growth of political power of financial oligarchy and media-military-industrial complex. Growth of political power of financial oligarchy among national elite has led to the dramatic growth of inequality and created growing fear of the top 0.01% (oligarchs) over preserving their power and financial gains.
That naturally leads to the establishment of National Security State" state, militarization of police and introduction of total surveillance over the citizens under the pretext of fighting against terrorists.
In the article GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications by Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger, Nick Hopkins, Nick Davies and James Ball, the authors describe blanket surveillance regime (21 June 2013, The Guardian) in comparison with which KGB and even STASI looks like complete amatures:
Britain's spy agency GCHQ has secretly gained access to the network of cables which carry the world's phone calls and internet traffic and has started to process vast streams of sensitive personal information which it is sharing with its American partner, the National Security Agency (NSA).
The sheer scale of the agency's ambition is reflected in the titles of its two principal components: Mastering the Internet and Global Telecoms Exploitation, aimed at scooping up as much online and telephone traffic as possible. This is all being carried out without any form of public acknowledgement or debate.
One key innovation has been GCHQ's ability to tap into and store huge volumes of data drawn from fibre-optic cables for up to 30 days so that it can be sifted and analysed. That operation, codenamed Tempora, has been running for some 18 months.
GCHQ and the NSA are consequently able to access and process vast quantities of communications between entirely innocent people, as well as targeted suspects.
This includes recordings of phone calls, the content of email messages, entries on Facebook and the history of any internet user's access to websites – all of which is deemed legal, even though the warrant system was supposed to limit interception to a specified range of targets.
As Glenn Greenwald wrote in his article Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government? (May 4, 2013, The Guardian):
Every day, collection systems at the National Security Agency intercept and store 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications.
It would also help explain the revelations of former NSA official William Binney, who resigned from the agency in protest over its systemic spying on the domestic communications of US citizens, that the US government has "assembled on the order of 20 trillion transactions about US citizens with other US citizens" (which counts only communications transactions and not financial and other transactions), and that "the data that's being assembled is about everybody. And from that data, then they can target anyone they want."
Despite the extreme secrecy behind which these surveillance programs operate, there have been periodic reports of serious abuse. Two Democratic Senators, Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, have been warning for years that Americans would be "stunned" to learn what the US government is doing in terms of secret surveillance. Strangely, back in 2002 - when hysteria over the 9/11 attacks (and thus acquiescence to government power) was at its peak - the Pentagon's attempt to implement what it called the "Total Information Awareness" program (TIA) sparked so much public controversy that it had to be official scrapped. But it has been incrementally re-instituted - without the creepy (though honest) name and all-seeing-eye logo - with little controversy or even notice.
In his book "Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer identifies seven characteristics of a such a state:
You can probably safely replace the term "military" with the term "finance" in the above list to make it more applicable to contemporary neoliberal societies. And if you think about, it finance is a new form of warfare. In any case National Security State is now reality and by-and-large displaced the previous form, called Inverted Totalitarism which existed from late 40th to late 80th.
The fact the neoliberalism is highly criminogenic is well established. The postulate "greed is good" implicitly assumes that the legal system is perfect. In order to distinguish greed from enlightened self-interest, we will define greed is self-interest taken to an extreme or unseemly degree. A “greedy” market participant that seeks to gain at the expense of others and the society at large. So in essence this is a parasitic behavior. This might be done within the legal framework exploiting loopholes in it, but most commonly it involves a violation of the law that is difficult to enforce and are supported internally by corporate brass (A Troubling Survey on Global Corruption - NYTimes.com):
A new survey of corporate officials and employees in 36 countries — in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as India — indicates that there is plenty of corruption that needs investigating.
Over all, 20 percent of the respondents said they knew of incidents at their own companies within the previous year that could be construed as cooking the books — moves to either understate expenses or overstate revenue. Among senior managers and directors, the figure was 42 percent.
It is typically difficult to determine what the optimal set of laws is; lawmakers must make their best guess, and in most cases they pass laws that are proved to be suboptimal over time. Holes in those laws can be systematically exploited. Also law always lags behind market and technological developments; it is difficult for lawmakers to know how to regulate things like new products or new investment vehicles. That creates another opportunity to engage in destructive for the society as whole behavior without fear of punishment by the law. Neoliberalism also is "sociopath friendly" regime in a sense that sociopathic qualities became a desirable for the top brass. And with sociopathic leadership in place it is difficult to imagine what the improper business is. "Creative destruction" in this case becoming something like a pack of wolves against a sheep.
Wall Street also developed two step combination: first weaken the law, and then engage in criminal behavior that is now decriminalized. In other words, if one argues that it is perfectly acceptable for people to be greedy, the problem is that there is no mechanism to constrain greedy people so that they can do no harm to others. As history demonstrates pretty convincingly (with the 2008 crisis as the most recent example), the legal system typically fails to place the appropriate constraints on such market behavior. That's why additional mechanisms are important for society survival and prosperity, and that's why most world religions consider greed to be a vice. This brings us to works of John Kenneth Galbraith and his discussion of the necessity of countervailing economic forces. Neoliberalism destroyed those countervailing forces over the last several decades.
Since the legal system can not and never in reality guarantee that markets function efficiently, there is a role for other institutions to foster a more enlightened self-interest as a social norm and thus improve efficiency. It's mostly about how self-interest is channeled that makes the difference, since eliminating self-interest seems similarly sociopathic (the USSR is a perfect example here). We would be a lot better off to channel self-interest in financial sector productively, than let it run wild foraging on speculation, arbitrage, and monopolization.
But it is those institutions that can channel self-interest in a more productive way, that neoliberalism systematically tries to weaken. In this sense neoliberalism is not only criminogenic, it is self-destructive. Moreover, unethical behavior is arguably more of the rule of corporate conduct rather than the exception. As such it represents a systemic flaw of neoliberalism as a flavor of corporatism. And the Great Recession of 2008 is a direct manifestation of this systemic flaw. In other words it was not accidental, it was not the first and it is not the last.
Example of Russia neoliberal revolution of 1989-1994 is probably one of the most terrifying examples of this trend. But the situation in the USA after 2008 is structurally even worse as it entails much more sophisticated layers of corruption and first of all almost complete corruption of the government by financial oligarchy (nobody was prosecuted for the financial crisis of 2008). It signified the creation of two separate caste of citizens with the upper caste being above the law, much like it was with Nomenklatura in the USSR.
Neoliberalism also exploits fundamental problem that in any large bureaucracy dealing with huge sums of money people have bad and/or contradictory incentives and lack of accountability creates opportunity for corruption. So in way it is using corruption for the purposes of maintaining the neoliberal regime, which is pretty unique feature. And, despite appearance, all large bureaucracies are prone to corruption.
One of the key mechanisms of corruption that is used under neoliberal regime is so called "the revolving door". It works in both direction: from top corporate seats to government and back.
Typically people who moved to government from private industry are not forgetting your former friends, especially in crisis (Paulson is a very good example here, but any Secretary of Treasury probably is not much worse example either). There are also implicit incentives to help your former employer, when there is an opportunity for a multimillion dollar deal. Also in this variant of "revolving door" regime, those who are coming to the government or to the public service have the incentive structure and morale they acquired in their prior employer -- a large corporation.
When a long time government servant is expecting to join a corporation after leaving the government there is a strong, but implicit incentive not to hurt future friends. Income inequality is probably one of the root causes for this. If incomes in public and private sector were not so much out of balance, few people would be motivated to sell themselves out so shamelessly.
But with the current level on income inequality this mechanism works wonders to emasculate regulatory agencies top brass. The mechanism that efficiently replicates this governance systems and keeps it in place one of the central part of criminality of neoliberalism: the conscious breaking down of institutional capacity of state to regulate business activity. Thus creating the situation of "mafia state", with the oligarchy instead of regular Mafiosi.
The other key mechanism is bribing the press corps to present (often close to criminal) actions favorable to oligarchy (in a words of Margaret Thatcher), as "There Is No Alternative" (TINA). BTW in Russian "tina" is the highly viscosious, amorphous substance on the bottom of the lake or swamp. In the latter case it can swallow people or animals. This effect is the same as for "Neoliberal TINA". Typically "TINA" works by remapping the debate to exclude anything not favorable to the financial elite (Journalists in the service of Pete Peterson Remapping Debate). Here is how stealing from Social Security to preserve recent gains by financial elite was presented during debates on (note the terminology) "curbing the country’s “unsustainable” debt and deficits.":
Peterson, however, is hardly a disinterested and dispassionate observer of such discussions. In fact, he is now beginning his fourth decade of arguing that there is no alternative to enacting “entitlement reform” (read: cut Social Security and Medicare) and “tax reform” (read: raise regressive taxes and lower progressive ones) in the name of curbing the country’s “unsustainable” debt and deficits.
- Maria Bartiromo, 2011 (host, CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo”)
- Tom Brokaw, 2012 (former anchor and managing editor, NBC Nightly News)
- Erin Burnett, 2012 (host of CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront”)
- John F. Harris, 2012 (editor-in-chief of Politico)
- Gwen Ifill, 2011, 2010 (senior correspondent of “PBS NewsHour”)
- Ezra Klein, 2011 (columnist, Washington Post)
- Jon Meacham, 2010 (former editor-in-chief, Newsweek)
- Bob Schieffer, 2010 (host, CBS “Face the Nation”)
- Lesley Stahl, 2010 (reporter, CBS “60 Minutes”)
- George Stephanopoulos, 2012 (host, ABC’s “This Week”)
- David Wessel, 2012, 2011 (economics editor, Wall Street Journal)
- George Will, 2011 (columnist, Washington Post)
- Judy Woodruff, 2012, 2011 (host, “PBS NewsHour”)
An essential and successful element of the Peterson strategy is to create an environment where it is widely if not universally believed that there is no alternative to his vision. The conceit is that those with “courage” will see past narrow, partisan concerns and embrace an ideal: a bipartisan consensus that has the strength to demand “shared sacrifice” from a childish and selfish populace. A review of the proceedings of the Fiscal Summits of the last three years makes agonizingly clear that most of the journalists who conducted interviews or moderated panel discussions both reflected and amplified the Peterson worldview...
So, for example, Lesley Stahl, the CBS “60 Minutes” reporter, was fully a part of the Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson deficit-cutting team during her interview with both men: “You are going to have to raise taxes and cut things, big things, put restrictions on Social Security. Everybody knows that.”
Virtually none of the reporters thought to ask about or suggest an alternative path, such as preserving Social Security benefits and bolstering the system’s reserve by raising the cap of wages subject to Social Security taxes (currently annual wages above approximately $110,000 are not subject to any Social Security tax).
And most questioning proceeded either on the false assumption that deficits were derived from excessive spending on entitlements or as though they had mysteriously, but inevitably, come to pass.
Many journalists fairly shouted their personal desire to see greater cooperation and “compromise,” with groups realizing the importance of submerging their interests to the greater good. Who should do the submerging? In 2012, Tom Brokaw had a suggestion in the form of a question to former President Bill Clinton: after Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker pushed through a bill undermining the right of union members to collectively bargain, shouldn’t those workers have just sat down and negotiated with Walker as, Brokaw said, “has been traditionally done in this country” instead of “gather[ing] outside the capitol”?
There were a couple of exceptions to the rule. In a session moderated by Ezra Klein of the Washington Post in 2011, Klein posed a number of questions that reflected an unwillingness to operate from within the Peterson framework. For example, Klein asked New York Times columnist David Brooks whether, instead of blaming Americans for simply wanting benefits without paying for them, the causes of the debt should be located in the Bush tax cuts, two unfunded wars (Iraq and Afghanistan), and the federal government’s emergency response to the financial crisis.
Judy Woodruff, of the PBS NewsHour, generally asked questions from within the Peterson frame, but, at one point in 2012, posed a question that perhaps all the journalists should have been thinking about as well. She asked Rep. Christopher Van Hollen, Jr. (D-Md.) if “Democrats like you, by participating in forums like this one that is all focused on austerity, on cutting the deficit and the debt…really become also window dressing for a conservative agenda that is anti-jobs and anti-recovery and wrongheaded economics?”
Over the course of the three years of fiscal summits that Remapping Debate examined, the other journalist interviewers and moderators hewed strictly to the conventional Peterson wisdom. What follows are annotated illustrations of this recurring problem.
Although neoliberal regime is not necessarily a kleptocracy (although Yeltsin regime definitely was), the difference is only in a degree. It does use corruption and criminality to stabilize the neoliberal regime and protect it from backlash that follow economic crisis caused by excessive appetite by financial oligarchy (if I am sounding like a communist here it is not accidental; as people of former USSR observed: communism was all wrong about socialism, but it was surprisingly realistic in its views of capitalism). And as for corruption it is pretty ironic that the USA tried to position itself as a leader of anti-corruption crusade, because as Niall Ferguson noted (quoted from Zero Hedge):
“It is corruption when corporations can buy regulation. It is corruption when laws are sponsored by Wall Street.”
It is a sad state when the current level of corruption of the U.S. government is what was once only associated with third world countries ruled by dictators. The problem is that corruption of major institutions and first of all regulators is predicament for any country which adopted neoliberal model, and the US in no exception. Niall Ferguson called it "suffering from a third world disease.". In his new book The Great Degeneration he states the central question of the “great degeneration” is whether our institutions, and first of all institution which should uphold the rule of law are degenerating. He thinks that there are four symptoms of degeneration:
Quite frankly, like in the case of international financial capital, the most necessary constituents that define organized crime are in place so the difference in only in degree:
Organized crime or criminal organizations are transnational, national, or local groupings of highly centralized enterprises run for the purpose of engaging in illegal activity, most commonly for monetary profit
In the United States, the Organized Crime Control Act (1970) defines organised crime as "The unlawful activities of [...] a highly organised, disciplined association [...]". Criminal activity as a structured group is referred to as racketeering and such crime is commonly referred to as the work of the Mob. In the UK, police estimate organized crime involves up to 38,000 people operating in 6,000 various groups. In addition, due to the escalating violence of Mexico's drug war, the Mexican drug cartels are considered the "greatest organised crime threat to the United States" according to a report issued by the United States Department of Justice.
By all estimates Mexican grug cartels dwarf the size and wealth of the US financial sector.
If you think that the increasing level of penetration of Mexican mafia into the US is the result of external forces think again. In a way Reagan regime was a clear invitations for any self-respectful international crime syndicate to start operating in the US territory. And the exposition of crime that was a side effect of neoliberal counterrevolution in Russia has a distinct blowback effect in the USA. The same reasoning is applicable to various sophisticated financial crimes including computer related. What you expect unemployed or semi-employed for 300 dollars a month programmers to do to in order to provide a living for themselves and their families.
As Will Hutton noted in The Guardian neoliberalism doctrine entail direct propaganda of amorality( Across Europe, political leaders have lost the trust of their people:
There was a time when to live a life virtuously was well understood. It embraced personal integrity, commitment to a purpose that was higher than personal gain, a degree of selflessness and even modesty. Those at the top may have got there through ruthlessness and ambition, but they understood that to lead was to set an example and that involved demonstrating better qualities than simply looking after yourself.
No more. Perhaps the greatest calamity of the conservative counter-revolution has been the energy it invested in arguing that virtue, whatever its private importance, has no public value. The paradox, the new conservatives claim, is only through the pursuit of self-interest can the economy and society work best. Responsibilities to the commonweal are to be avoided.
The retreat of virtue has become the plague of our times. Greed is legitimate; to have riches however obtained, including outrageous bonuses or avoiding tax, is the only game in town. But across the west the consequences are becoming more obvious. Politics, business and finance have become blighted to the point that they are dysfunctional, with a now huge gap in trust between the elite and the people.
In the USA it took more then three decade to eliminate morality and to establish "law of jungle" mentality in the population. In other countries such as Russia this process was much quicker and run deeper. And in no way this newly acquired level of criminally is reflected in incarceration statistics. Most of "neoliberal-style: crimes are financial crimes and as such they are difficult to direct and difficult to procedure. sometimes they are impossible to procedure either because of the political influence of the players or potential effect on the economy if particular persons and institutions are brought to justice. The latter factor was acknowledged by the US justice department.
Neoliberalism propagates criminal behavior by creating acute means-ends discrepancies and due to excessive cultural emphasis on monetary or material success goals ("greed is good" mentality) for members of society. At the same time mobility is restricted and majority of members of the society has no realistic chances to attain those goals. Still media brainwashing incites the desire more than they have. Success stories of going from rags to riches make the American Dream more believable, despite the fact that it is deeply and irrevocably fake. As this cultural meme is internalized it creates a strain, which combined with the culturally induced underemphasize on the proper methods, stimulates deviance of various types. If the deviant solution is successful (i.e., perpetrators are not caught or adequately punished), this adaptation may become normative for others in a similar social context. To the extent that this solution is available to them (demand for illicit goods or services, access to illegitimate opportunity structures), they may adopt this role model -- and may be expected by their significant others to follow this path. This process creates a vicious circle toward higher rates of deviance and widespread anomie under neoliberal regime. Anomie is a withdrawal of allegiance from conventional norms and a weakening of these norms' guiding power on behavior. This is caused by structural contradictions within the neoliberal doctrine and affects deviance in two ways. One is associated with strain, relative deprivation, frustrations, and the almost obsessive focus on goals. This makes deviance thinkable, as conventional norms are regarded as nonbinding, at least temporarily. Rationalizations enable departures from otherwise accepted/internalized social rules, as actors convince themselves that in their particular circumstances an exception is acceptable. Through interactive processes, techniques of neutralization and rationalizations contribute to a context in which newly socialized actors may adopt normative referents and deviant behavior as a matter of course. If "this is the way business is done around here," people may engage in price fixing or misleading advertising or insider trading or running a prostitution ring. While those criminogenic effects of neoliberalism became prominent in the USA as was demonstrated by 2008 financial crisis, when most of financial players involved were engaged is behavior that is deeply and irrevocably asocial and amoral. However, a very similar process is now being reproduced throughout the world. Promises are made that are not fulfilled. People's expectations are exalted at a time when economic and power asymmetries increase and become less justifiable and intolerable in the eyes of the people affected. The logic of the market permeates popular thinking and introduces rationalizations, making the adoption of a criminal or unethical solution more acceptable. This high criminogenic impact of globalization and neoliberal policies is extremely difficult and costly to reverse.
Moral relativism means that anything that helps to achieve the goal is moral. It was actually pioneered by Marxism in context of means to be used to achieve "proletarian revolution". It is a part of Randism as a ersatz version of Nietzschean Philosophy.
Corruption, facilitated by the credibility trap, is the biggest problem facing the West today. That is the real subsidy, the most debilitating entitlement.
It is the belief of the elite that the power of their office is an achievement that rewards them with the right to lie, cheat and steal, both for themselves and their friends.
Although it is most important to understand that they would be shocked and insulted if one uses those words, lie, cheat and steal, to describe what they are doing. They view themselves as exceptionally hard working, as obligated by their natural gifts and superiority.
Through a long indoctrination that starts sometimes in their families, but is most often affirmed in their elite schools and with their circle of privileged friends, they learn to rationalize selective moral behaviour not as immoral but as 'the entitlement of success.' And they are supported by a horde of morally ambivalent enablers who will tell them whatever they wish to hear.
There are one set of rules for themselves and their friends, and another set of rules for the rest.
Few who actually do evil consciously choose to be evil. They rationalize what they do in any number of ways, but the deceit often hinges on their own natural superiority, and the objectification and denigration of the other. We are makers, and they are takers. Although many may work hard, they see their own work as having special value and merit, while the actions of the others are inconsequential and unworthy.
Given enough time, their rationalizations become an ideology, desensitized to the meaning and significance of others outside their own select group. This supremacy of ideology empties their souls, and opens the door to mass privation and even murder, although rarely done by their own hands.
This is what Glenn Greenwald calls 'justice for some.' Or even earlier what George Orwell captured in the slogan, 'Some animals are more equal than others.'
And just to be clear on this, with regard to the Anglo-American political situation, the tragedy is not that just some are corrupted, which is always the case. The tragedy is that the Democrats and the Labor Party learned that they could become as servilely corrupted by Big Money as the Republicans and the Conservative Party, while maintaining the illusion of serving their traditional political base.
And it has rewarded them very well in terms of extraordinarily well-funded political power, and almost unbelievable personal enrichment afterwards.
In such a climate of corruption, political discourse loses the vitality of ideas and compromise for the general good, and take on the character of competing gangs and crime families, engaged in aggressive schemes and protracted turf wars, tottering from one pitched battle and crisis to another.As Jesse put in his blog Jesse's Café Américain
"A credibility trap is a condition wherein the financial, political and informational functions of a society have been compromised by corruption and fraud, so that the leadership cannot effectively reform, or even honestly address, the problems of that system without impairing and implicating, at least incidentally, a broad swath of the power structure, including themselves.The problem which the modern world has not yet grappled is how to react to the rise of a global elite, which considers itself to be above national restraints, and a law unto themselves.
The status quo tolerates the corruption and the fraud because they have profited at least indirectly from it, and would like to continue to do so. Even the impulse to reform within the power structure is susceptible to various forms of soft blackmail and coercion by the system that maintains and rewards.
And so a failed policy and its support system become self-sustaining, long after it is seen by objective observers to have failed. In its failure it is counterproductive, and an impediment to recovery in the real economy. Admitting failure is not an option for the thought leaders who receive their power from that system.
The continuity of the structural hierarchy must therefore be maintained at all costs, even to the point of becoming a painfully obvious, organized hypocrisy.
The Banks must be restrained, and the financial system reformed, with balance restored to the economy, before there can be any sustainable recovery.
Their success has been propelled by the dominance of Anglo-American financialization, and the rise of oligarchies in Russia, China, Latin America, and India. Countervailing power has been co-opted and in many cases eliminated. Any opposition has become marginalized and isolated.
The new oligarchs are supported by fiat currencies of respective national goverements, which together the increase of insubstantial 'cashlessness' in wealth. The latter provides much greater ability to reallocate wealth.
Legal arbitrage is a powerful instrument for transnational corporations to press government into compliance. As soon as government tries to impose some restriction on their operations they threaten to leave.
This behavior is by-and-large conditioned by the low price of oil. With price of oil above, say $200 per barrel, transportation costs became big enough to make this behavior less likely
Globalization and deregulation supports selective justice, to the extreme detriment of local legal regimes (outside G7), and individual choice and freedom. The new global elite consider themselves to be a new Arab sheiks, a law unto themselves, above what they consider subhuman restraint. Or using Nietzschean terminology, Übermenschen.
“Our light-speed, globally connected economy has led to the rise of a new super-elite that consists, to a notable degree, of first- and second-generation wealth. Its members are hardworking, highly educated, jet-setting meritocrats who feel they are the deserving winners of a tough, worldwide economic competition—and many of them, as a result, have an ambivalent attitude toward those of us who didn't succeed so spectacularly. Perhaps most noteworthy, they are becoming a transglobal community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today's super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves...
A multibillion-dollar bailout and Wall Street’s swift, subsequent reinstatement of gargantuan bonuses have inspired a narrative of parasitic bankers and other elites rigging the game for their own benefit. And this, in turn, has led to wider—and not unreasonable—fears that we are living in not merely a plutonomy, but a plutocracy, in which the rich display outsize political influence, narrowly self-interested motives, and a casual indifference to anyone outside their own rarefied economic bubble."
Chrystia Freeland, The Rise of the New Global Elite
Being an implementation of the "law of jungles" on international scene with the USA as a 100 pound gorilla, the neoliberal regime has distinct criminogenic character both within the USA (unpunished financial crimes made by top management of leading Wall Street banks and investment firms) and, especially, in "newly liberalized" countries of former USSR ("a New Latin America"). Which is the main "sphere of influence" of international corporations from G7 countries.
Along with internationalization of economies and integration of elites there was internalization of organized crime and growth in sophistication of criminal methods of appropriation of wealth, including those used by international corporations.
In this discussion we will follow key points of the article Global Anomie, Dysnomie, and Economic Crime Hidden Consequences of Neoliberalism and Globalization in Russia and Around the World
TRANSNATIONAL CRIME HAS RECENTLY ACQUIRED A PROMINENT PLACE IN PUBLIC debates. It is commonly presented as the most significant Crime problem at the turn of the millennium (Myers, 1995-1996; Shelley, 1995). Many have even suggested that it represents a serious domestic and international security threat (Paine and Cillufo, 1994; Williams, 1994). The argument is also made that a wave of transnational crime undermines policies and the functioning of an increasing number of market economies around the globe (Handelman, 1995; Shelley, 1994). As a consequence, the proposed remedies are often quite drastic and involve undercover operations, privacy-piercing approaches, and the participation of intelligence services in the fight against global crime (Andreas, 1997; Naylor, 1999; Passas and Blum, 1998; Passas and Groskin, 1995).
Yet, little attention and virtually no systematic research has been devoted to understanding the causes, structure, extent, and effects of serious cross-border misconduct (Passas, 1998). The risks it poses may be grossly exaggerated (Naylor, 1995; Lee, 1999). The draconian measures being contemplated and implemented in different countries, therefore, are essentially an exercise in shooting in the dark. Chances are good that the target will be missed and substantial "collateral damage" may be caused by ill-conceived policies in this "war" on crime. This risk is particularly high in countries in transition toward a market democracy. It would be much wiser, thus, to carefully study the problem before taking ineffective and possibly damaging actions.
This article seeks to make a contribution by concentrating on the causes of transnational economic crime. The main argument is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, neoliberalism and globalization contribute to processes leading to global anomie, dysnomie, and, ultimately, economic misconduct. They do so by activating the criminogenic potential of economic, political, legal, and cultural asymmetries, as well as by creating new such asymmetries (Passas, 1999). These asymmetries cause crime by furnishing opportunities for misconduct, by generating motives for actors to take advantage of such opportunities, and by weakening social controls. More specifically, means-ends disjunctions are systematically created, as neoliberal policies foster new needs and desires that are all too often left unfulfilled. Promises of more freedom, prosperity, and happiness for a larger number of people have turned out to be chimerical. Economic and power inequalities have widened within and across countries in the last two decades . The number of poor has reached unprecedented levels, while welfare programs and safety nets are reduced or abolished. Enormous populations have become more vulnerable to exploitation, criminal victimization, and recruitment in illicit enterprises or rebel and fundamentalist groups. Normative standards and control mechanisms are weak or completely absent exactly when they are needed the most.
This article begins with some basic conceptual clarifications and outlines the theoretical framework so far applied to the analysis of U.S. organizational and individual deviance. Then, the main features of globalization and neoliberalism are presented, followed by a contrast of promises made by proponents of neoliberal policies and their actual consequences. Attention then shifts to specific criminogenic effects of these outcomes and the case of Russia, which illustrates the different stages in the processes leading up to serious misconduct and anomie. The chief policy implication of this analysis is that the recently unleashed forces of neoliberalism need to be reined in and held in check, while government policies ought to better shield the least privileged from the adverse effects of globalization.
Some Conceptual Clarifications
Although there is no universally accepted definition of transnational crime, many commentators seem to think of it as a globalized form of the stereotypical "organized crime." This, however, leaves out corporate and governmental crimes, whose effects can be far more harmful than those of "professional" criminals and ethnic groups involved in the business of illegal goods and services. We therefore need a definition that is inclusive enough without becoming too relativistic and subjective. For our purposes, transnational crime refers to cross-border misconduct that entails avoidable and unnecessary harm to society, is serious enough to warrant state intervention, and is similar to other kinds of acts criminalized in the countries concerned or by international law. Crime will be viewed as transnational when the offenders or victims are located in or operate through more than one country (Passas, 1999).
Globalization is another term that is often used without clear definition. In the simplest sense, it refers to a growing interconnectedness and multilateral linkages across national borders. According to Keohane and Nye (2000: 104), globalism is a state of the world involving networks of interdependence at multicontinental distances. The linkages occur through flows and influences of capital and goods, information and ideas, and people and forces, as well as environmentally and biologically relevant substances (such as acid rain or pathogens).
Globalism has several dimensions, such as economic, cultural, environmental, or military, not all of which take place at the same time. So, whenever globalism increases and becomes thicker or more intense, we can speak of globalization. When globalism decreases, we can speak of de-globalization.
Finally, the term "criminogenic asymmetries" refers to structural discrepancies and inequalities in the realms of the economy, law, politics, and culture. Such asymmetries are produced in the course of interactions between unequal actors (individual or organizational) or systems with distinctive features. All asymmetries contain some criminogenic potential. Durkheim argued that crime cannot be eliminated, because we are and always will be different from each other. Even in a society of saints, minor deviations would be considered serious offenses. In modern societies, crimes are those behavioral differences (asymmetries) that have been outlawed by legislative bodies. There is always the opportunity for powerful actors to victimize less privileged ones (economic, political, and power asymmetries). This potential is not always materialized. Criminal opportunities are not necessarily taken advantage of. Mostly this is because actors do not always seek or wish to make use of illegal opportunities. They may not regard such action as appropriate (due to socialization, internalization of norms) or fear adverse consequences. The criminogenic potential is most likely to be activated when opportunities, motives, and weak controls are all present.
For example, a combination of legal/regulatory asymmetries with economic and political asymmetries has given rise to a huge illicit market for toxic waste disposal. Many Third World countries either did not regulate toxic waste or did so much less rigorously than did industrialized states. This provided an opportunity for maximum-profit-seeking companies to getrid of their hazardous waste in areas where rules were lax or nonexistent (Center for Investigative Reporting and Moyers, 1990; Critharis, 1990). Power and economic asymmetries between rich and poor countries have led waste recipients to allow this to go on because of their dependence on foreign investment, the need for cash to service external debt, or the desire to create jobs (Korten, 1995). Economic and knowledge asymmetries also shaped the motivation of local participants in this questionable trade. The decision to go along reflects an incomplete understanding of the extent or nature of the hazard, their desperate need for additional income, an effort to be competitive and attractive to foreign companies (race to the bottom), or corruption.
Anomie and Deviance
Both Durkheim (1983) and Merton (1968) have stressed how high rates of deviance should be expected when social expectations are out of balance with realistic opportunities to reach the desired goals. According to Durkheim, this means-ends discrepancy is caused by society's inability to regulate people's naturally limitless desires. This problem was particularly acute in the commercial and business sector, in which anomie was chronic during the industrial revolution, opening up new horizons and undermining society's ability to contain aspirations. A similar situation can be observed in contemporary societies, where electronic, information, and biological technologies constantly redefine what is possible and break new ground.
According to Merton, unrealistic hopes and expectations are not simply natural, but socially constructed and promoted. Structural problems are at the heart of the means-ends disjunction. The U.S. culture and the ideology of the American Dream encourage lofty expectations, while society fails to provide equal access to legal opportunities. Meanwhile, there is a cultural overemphasis on success goals at the expense of normative behavior (as further elaborated by Messner and Rosenfeld, 1994). Both of these factors make for deviance and anomie.
Without ignoring the differences between the two sociologists, it has been possible to use an elaborated version of their anomie theories to explain corporate crime in the context of capitalist economies (Passas, 1990). Regardless of whether people strive for "more" due to natural drives or because of cultural encouragement, the point is that market economies cannot perform without lofty aspirations, consumerism, emphasis on material/monetary goals, and competition. All this leads to the pursuit of constantly moving targets and systematic sources of frustration. A synthesis of anomie theory with reference group analysis made clear how means-ends discrepancies are socially generated and experienced by people in all social strata. It also showed how this theoretical framework is applicable to the analysis of crime without strain or problems (i.e., anomie theory is not a strain theory) and to "organized crime" even after discrimination or blockage of legitimate opportunities no longer affects minority groups (Passas, 1997).
In brief, the dynamic social process leading to structurally induced strain, anomie, and deviance without strain is as follows. Means-ends discrepancies are caused by a strong cultural emphasis on monetary or material success goals for all members of society, while a good number of them do not have a realistic chance to attain them. Socially distant comparative referents are constantly introduced and sustained through the school, family, politics, workplace, media, advertising, and even religion (Passas, 1994). Regardless of their social background and the social capital available to them, people are urged to desire more than they have. Success stories of going from rags to riches make the American Dream even more believable. As this cultural theme is internalized, competitive forces and consumerism foster normative referents on what is "normal" and appropriate. The widely internalized egalitarian discourse clashes in practice with widespread inequality (power and economic asymmetries). Consequently, those m embers who fail to meet such comparative and normative standards are likely to experience relative deprivation and frustration. This strain, combined with the culturally induced overemphasis on goals and the concomitant under-emphasis on the proper methods, makes for deviance of various types (see Merton's typology). A good part of the deviance is an individual search for a solution to these structural problems. If the deviant solution is successful (i.e., perpetrators are not caught or adequately punished), this adaptation may become normative for others in a similar social context. To the extent that this solution is available to them (demand for illicit goods or services, access to illegitimate opportunity structures), they may adopt this role model -- and may be expected by their significant others to follow this path -- even though the original source of strain has by now been eclipsed. Unless effective control measures are taken, this process continues in a vicious circle toward higher rates of deviance and widespread anomie (for a schematic representation of this process, see Figure 1 at the end of the article).
In the literature, anomie is often conceptually confused with its causes or effects. To keep its explanatory potential, this mistake should be avoided. Anomie is a withdrawal of allegiance from conventional norms and a weakening of these norms' guiding power on behavior. This is caused by structural contradictions and affects deviance in two ways. One is associated with strain, the other is not. The former is caused by relative deprivation, frustrations, and the almost obsessive focus on goals. This makes deviance thinkable, as conventional norms are regarded as nonbinding, at least temporarily. Rationalizations enable departures from otherwise accepted/internalized social rules, as actors convince themselves that in their particular circumstances an exception is acceptable (Aubert, 1968; Sykes and Matza, 1957). Through interactive processes, techniques of neutralization and rationalizations contribute to a context in which newly socialized actors may adopt normative referents and deviant behavior as a matter of course. If "this is the way business is done around here," people may engage in price fixing or misleading advertising without experiencing any prior frustration or problem.
Globalization and Neoliberalism
These structural problems have been most prominent in the USA. However, a very similar process is now being reproduced throughout the world through globalism and neoliberalism. Promises are made that are not fulfilled. People's expectations are exalted at a time when economic and power asymmetries increase and become less justifiable and intolerable in the eyes of the people affected. The logic of the market permeates popular thinking and introduces rationalizations, making the adoption of a criminal or unethical solution more acceptable. The horizontal lines in Figure 1, rather than representing controlling influences, at the global level point to the criminogenic impact of globalization and neoliberal policies.
Nowadays, globalism and neoliberalism seem to be indistinguishable empirically or even conceptually (Cox, 1993; Stewart and Berry, 1999). Nevertheless, I think it is useful to try to separate them analytically. As noted earlier, globalism refers to the degree of interconnectedness and the increase or decrease of linkages. By contrast, neoliberalism refers to an economic and political school of thought on the relations between the state on the one hand, and citizens and the world of trade and commerce on the other. Because it espouses minimal or no state interference in the market and promotes the lifting of barriers to trade and business transactions across regional and national borders, it certainly becomes a motor of globalization.
Globalization in the last two decades shows clear signs of deeper and thicker interconnections that affect many more people than ever before. The effects are now much faster, as shown by the financial crisis in Thailand in 1997. The world has shrunk and become "one place," with global communications and media, transnational corporations, supranational institutions, and integrated markets and financial systems that trade around the clock (McGrew, 1992; Sklair, 1995). The cultural landscape has changed under the influence of mass media. Through their ads, TV programs, movies, and music, they contribute to cultural globalism, target young children, and foster consumerism (e.g., "Image Is Everything," "Just Do It," or "Coke Is It"). Information technology is making for "distant encounters and instant connections" (Yergin and Stanislaw, 1998). Fresh normative and comparative ideals are thus promoted, legitimated, and presented as attainable. Scholars attribute the momentum of this process to the forces of capitalism (Wallerstein, 1983), technology (Rosenau, 1990), the presence of a hegemon (Gilpin, 1987), or a combination of them all (Giddens, 1990).
Neoliberalism, in particular, has made a major contribution to the dynamic and contradictory processes of globalization since the elections of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Helmut Kohl. During the 1950s and 1960s, the dominant concerns revolved around distributive justice, neocolonialism, and dependency theory. These were displaced in the 1980s and into the 1990s by discourses of "free markets," individualism, and self-help (Woods, 1999). Policies of deregulation, privatization of state assets, and removal of tariffs implemented the doctrine that the state should get out of the way of free enterprise. Unemployment, inequality, and poverty were no longer explained by structural contradictions or constraints. The problems became individualized and blamed on corrupt administrations or on the poor themselves. The proposed medicine was more liberalization of the economy, free competition, privatization of inefficiently managed government agencies, abolition of capital controls, and permitting foreign capital to enter all markets.
The ideological underpinning of globalization, thus, has been the primacy of economic growth, which is thought to be benefiting the whole planet. Consistent with that prime directive, country after country has been persuaded (or forced) to promote "free trade" and consumerism, to reduce government regulation of business, and to adopt the same economic model regardless of local specificities and differences between industrialized and developing countries (Bello, 1999; Mander, 1996).
More specifically, shifts in the North, the East, and the South have been quite remarkable. In the North, the welfare state that used to care for citizens "from cradle to grave" has been replaced by a "pay as you go" social service system. Even public utilities have been privatized and have begun to charge "economic prices," as former subsidization systems were abolished. Further, "industrial interventionism and labour protection have given way to laissez-faire; and tax systems whose major purpose was to correct inequalities have been transformed into systems mainly intended to promote incentives and economic efficiency" (Stewart and Berry, 1999: 151).
In developing countries, similar shifts took place as a result of hegemonic influences from the North. Western-educated Third World "technocrats" returned to their home countries eager to introduce neoliberal policies (Burbach et al., 1997: 86; Newsweek, June 15, 1992). As the bandwagon of liberalization took off, few countries wished to be left out. As a World Bank official warned, "lagging countries risk being left farther behind....For economies that remain inward-looking, the risk of being marginalized is greater than ever" (cited in Klak, 1998: 21).
Yet, the shifts have not always been voluntary. A host of measures and conditions consistent with the neoliberal agenda were imposed on countries through international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the OECD, the European Union, the G7, etc. Countries drowning in external debt sought additional loans to pay off their older ones -- chiefly to banks from the industrialized world. Billions of dollars were made available to them, but only if they introduced Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs). Despite important differences among the various economies, SAPs shared the same basic elements: long-term "structural" reforms to deregulate the economy, liberalization of trade, removal of restrictions on foreign investment, promotion of an export orientation of the economy, wage reductions and controls, privatization of state enterprises, and short-term stabilization measures such as cutbacks in government spending, high interest rates, and currency devaluation (Bello, 1996 ; 1999).
Changes along these lines also took place in the East, where the switch from state-managed economies toward "free market" and parliamentary democracy has been quite drastic and swift (Glinkina, 1994; Woods, 1999). The problem is that the introduction of global neoliberalism has brought about enormous economic and political asymmetries, as its promises and theoretical expectations remain unfulfilled.
The Promises of Global Neoliberalism
The supporters of global neoliberalism make a series of claims. For instance, the world is shrinking following greater connectivity (IBM claims to offer "solutions for a smaller planet"). The distinction between core and periphery states is presumed to be getting fuzzier and irrelevant, as there are only winners from now on. Investment, trade, and development opportunities are more widely distributed around the world. There is a marked convergence into one world economy, in which everyone can find a market niche. Media and cultural influences are more widespread and multilateral, as foods, music, and art are imported to the North and integrated into local cultures. Finally, people are more integrated thanks to telecommunication technologies and immigration (Klak, 1998).
To [neoliberal] economists, all these trends are positive, even if short-term hardship is deemed necessary for some parts of the population. Global welfare is expected to be enhanced, as the forces of free competition within and between countries will encourage more efficient resource allocation and bring about higher productivity (Oman, 1999). A more open, trade-creating world should, therefore, benefit everyone, if unevenly. Trickle-down effects of wealth creation would ensure that virtually everyone will participate in this welcome trend (Korten, 1996).
The objective of SAPs was to render developing economies more efficient, drive up growth rates, and provide foreign exchange that could be used to repay debt. Higher growth rates are empirically associated with comparatively more equal income distribution (Alesina and Rodrik, 1994). Hence, neoliberal policies would bring about not only more economic growth, productivity, a better division of labor (multistate production and wider participation), lower unemployment, more wealth and prosperity, but also more democracy, less poverty, and fewer inequalities. Unfortunately, in most countries, these virtuous circles did not occur.
The Consequences of Global Neoliberalism
Throughout the world, the expectations raised by neoliberal theorists have not materialized despite the extensive application of their policy recommendations. Instead, most economies "fell into a hole" of low investment, decreased social spending and consumption, low output, decline and stagnation. Both the World Bank and the IMF retreated from SAPs and acknowledged their failure (Bello, 1999; Katona, 1999; Multinational Monitor, June 2000; Watkins, 1997).
In the North, GDP growth was lower in the 1980 to 1990 period than in the 1950s and 1960s. We also witness a higher volatility in growth (e.g., booms and busts). Lost in all the talk about huge technological advances ushering in the computer and Internet era is the fact that productivity growth now is half that of levels in the 1950s and 1960s. Unemployment in OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries has risen from eight million in 1970 to 35 million in 1994. In the midst of U.S. prosperity and economic expansion, inequalities increased. The number of people living under the officially defined poverty level grew from 11.4% of the population in 1978 to 13.5% in 1990. Almost one in four new babies in the U.S. are born into poverty, while the top one percent of Americans saw their real income shoot up by 50% (Levy, 1998; Wilterdink, 1995). Also noteworthy is that U.S. and Western European international trade relative to GDP was greater a century ago than in recent years (Hirst and Thompson, 1996).
Neoliberal dreams proved to be even more chimerical in the South. Role models, like South Korea, Malaysia, and Indonesia plunged into crises in the 1990s. Mexico and Brazil, which faced their own scary periods, experienced growth of three percent in the last two decades, whereas that rate was six percent during the dirigiste period of 1950 to 1980. Wage gaps widened. Even in Costa Rica and Chile, models of success in Latin America, the results have been an unmitigated disaster for the lower social classes. The number of Costa Ricans below the poverty line rose from 18.6% in 1987 to 24.4% in 1991, while 42% of all Chileans are also living in poverty (Burbach et al., 1997: 86). Half of the investment flows to developing countries went to just three countries (China, Mexico, and Argentina). In addition, some investments had negative local effects. For instance, as diverse agriculture was converted into monocultures or to export-oriented flower plantations, self-sufficiency was undermined (Clinard, 1990; Klak, 1 998).
Moreover, the core-periphery distinction is as relevant as ever. Its real meaning relates to power, authority, and the accumulation of wealth, where the gaps (asymmetries) are increasing. Although production (of certain items) is more dispersed, the concentration of power, control, and benefits has become more pronounced. In 1991, 81% of the world stock of direct foreign investment was in the core triad of the USA, the European Union, and Japan -- up from 69% in 1967. The appearance of integrated markets also obscures the fact that 80% of all world trade is within the core triad, in which resides less than 20% of the planet's population (Hirst and Thompson, 1996; Klak, 1998).
In Latin America, debt jumped from $230 billion in 1980 to $600 billion in 1997. Capital had been fleeing those countries up to the early 1990s, when net inflows were the result of casino capital -- seeking short-term gains and likely to abandon those countries at the first hint of trouble. Consequently, new debts were created with a new round of borrowing (Robinson, 1998-1999). An important reason why developing countries cannot pay off their debt is that trade protectionism in the North has kept them from penetrating those markets. Trade liberalization has been inconsistent in that rich countries demand more open markets abroad, while continuing to subsidize their own economic sectors, such as agriculture (Andreas, 1999; UNDP, 2000; Watkins, 1997). Compounding these problems, aid to poor countries has been cut back. Whatever assistance is offered comes with strings attached, including the reduction of state intervention, which could have softened the effects for the most vulnerable (Watkins, 1997; Woods, 1 999). These policies further undercut food security, cause poverty, and increase economic and power asymmetries. For instance, the cost of living in the Caribbean and the U.S. is quite comparable. In 1997, however, per capita income in Trinidad and Tobago, the richest Caribbean state, was less than half that of Mississippi, the poorest U.S. state. The gap between skilled and unskilled workers widened even more: Haitian workers made clothing with Disney logos for less than 60 cents per hour, while Disney's CEO made $9,700 per hour (Klak, 1998).
The claim of multilateral and even cultural influences also masks tremendous asymmetries. Even though we listen to reggae in the North, 95% of TV programs in St. Lucia come from the U.S. The most widely read newspaper in the Caribbean is the Miami Herald. Consequently, U.S. affluence and opportunity, often romanticized, is especially well-known, deeply ingrained, and alluring to the Caribbean...[where] people are prone to set their living standard goals in accordance with what the U.S. media ascribe to the United States. And the imbalance in media flows is increasing with the Caribbean's economic crisis and neoliberalism, as local media have been slashed (Klak, 1998: 11).
As dreams of consumption are disseminated, 86% of total private consumption expenditures is accounted for by 20% of the world's people in industrialized countries (UNDP, 1998). For the people who live outside the consumption geographical area, big banks offer credit to only 10% of the people in developing countries, whereas ads for credit cards and consumer items are omnipresent (Barnet and Cavanagh, 1994). Well over one billion people are deprived of basic consumption needs. For hundreds of millions, basic sanitation, clean water, adequate housing, and health services are unattainable luxuries. Two billion people live on less than two dollars a day and 1.3 billion on less than one dollar a day (ICFTU, 2000). Struggling to survive, some decide to sell their body parts to make ends meet, which is the ultimate symbol of commodification (ScheperHughes, 2000).
A negative effect of the Internet is that it alters the relationship between our place of residence and our cultural preferences, experiences, and identities. A spreading global virtual reality disconnects locality from culture, weakens the bonds to particular communities, and estranges people from each other (Minda, 2000). Ladakh, a Himalayan province that prospered for a millennium despite harsh weather conditions, illustrates how (especially cultural) globalization devastated local communities (Norberg-Hodge, 1996). In 1962, isolated Ladakh was linked to the rest of India by an army-built road. The modernization that began in 1975 took about a decade to change the pride Ladakhis felt until then into a collective inferiority complex. Tourism and the media conveyed a picture of wealth, technology, power, and work that was alien and irresistible to them. Village life by comparison began to appear "primitive, silly, and inefficient" (Ibid.: 35). Ladakhis felt ashamed of their culture and strove for consumer items that symbolize modern life, such as sunglasses and Walkinans. As Western educational standards penetrated Ladakh, the intergenerational learning experience that helped them provide for themselves in their rough terrain gave way to schools that used texts imitating Indian and British models that were completely irrelevant to their lives (e.g., figuring out the angle of the Tower of Pisa and learning how to keep a London-like bedroom tidy). There used to be no such thing as a "paying job"; there was no money economy. Gradually, however, unemployment -- previously nonexistent -- became a serious problem, because naturally available resources were abandoned, cheap imports made local farming redundant, and people flocked to the cities to compete for scarce jobs. Radios and TVs chased away the traditions of singing together and group story telling. The points of reference ceased to be real people living nearby, but geographically and socially remote ideals. Consumerism bred new "needs," which could hardly be materialized. Family and other bonds disintegrated and divisions emerged between old and young, Buddhists and Muslims. The result was unprecedented violence, community breakdown, and anomie.
Criminogenic Effects: Systemic Strains and Global Anomie
What makes the ideology of the American Dream unique is a focus on money and material goods, a strong emphasis on "winning" (often, by all means), and success for everyone in a society where many opportunities for material advancement are available and plenty of "rags to riches" stories lend legitimacy and credibility to the egalitarian discourse. Legal opportunities, however, for achieving the lofty goals are inaccessible to most Americans. In such a consumption-driven culture, which highly values competition and individualism, the means-ends disjunction has entailed a significant criminogenic risk, much greater than in the rest of the world. Crime has been the flip side of economic growth, innovation, and better living standards for certain segments of the population. What sheltered other countries from this negative potential were things absent or minimized in the USA, such as rigid social stratification, low rates of social mobility, less materialism and time spent before TV boxes, safety nets for the underprivileged, more emphasis on other priorities (e.g., solidarity), etc.
This made it possible to explain the higher crime rates in the U.S. compared to other developed or developing countries. These protective factors, however, are now being gradually lost. Disjunctions between socially induced goals and legal means are few in societies that do not encourage high social mobility. In such societies, people may not feel that they are lacking anything, even when they are "objectively" deprived. Economic or other asymmetries are unknown or not experienced and perceived as intolerable. Global neoliberalism breaks down societal barriers and encourages new needs, desires, and fashions. It promotes the adoption of non-membership reference groups for comparisons that can be unfavorable and upsetting. New normative reference groups define what is "cool" to do. People's ideals in the South and the East may not be about getting from "a log cabin to the White House." However, they are being systematically driven to abandon old ways and values in order to consume. They do not necessarily think that they can be "like Mike," but they do fancy those pricey athletic shoes. So, fresh normative and comparative models create new "needs," together with the expectation that the fulfillment of such needs is vital and achievable.
Yet, as needs and normative models are "harmonized," people become conscious of economic and power asymmetries, and directly experience their impact. Globalization and neoliberalism heightened this awareness, further widened the asymmetries, and fostered the interpretation of them as unnecessary and changeable. In the end, most people realize that the attainment of their lofty goals and lifestyles is beyond reach, if they are to use legitimate means. The success in spreading neoliberalism has brought about a series of failures: more poverty, bigger economic asymmetries, ecosystem deterioration, slower and unsustainable growth patterns. At the time that societies most needed the shield of the state to cushion these effects, welfare programs, safety nets, and other assistance to the poor (individuals, companies, and states alike) forcibly declined or disappeared. Thus, global neoliberalism systematically causes relative deprivation as well as absolute immiseration of masses of people. In effect, it has generated new sources of criminogenesis and removed existing antidotes to it.
All this provides multiple motivations for criminality, as many would turn left and right for solutions and illicit opportunity structures become more international and accessible. At the same time, many weak states lose their autonomy, come to depend more on international organizations and transnational capital, and are unable to cope with emerging crime threats from criminal enterprises and powerful corporations. So, globalism and neoliberalism replace the "egalitarian discourse" of the American Dream in the scheme represented in Figure 1 in a process occurring in the industrialized world, developing countries, and those in transition from Communism to market democracies. Nowhere are these results more clearly visible than in the former USSR.
The Case of Russia
No one argues that there was no appetite for consumer goods in the years of the USSR or that such goods were widely available. Crime, corruption, illegal markets, and even underground factories could be found behind the official facade of the command system before glasnost and perestroika, although black marketers were not numerous and lived modestly. The government turned a blind eye to these activities, because they served as a safety valve in an inefficient system (Gleason, 1990; Handelman, 1995; Naylor, 1999b). Discontent, enormous structural problems, and an inability to deal with them characterized the pre-transition years. This is particularly true for the 1960s, when Khrushchev pledged that the USSR would overtake the U.S. in the production of industrial goods by the 1980s. Yet, as inefficiencies precluded such progress, demands for more consumer items "from an increasingly educated, by now self-assured, population, started to put pressure on government...as a loyal expression of the citizens' request for the gradual delivery of promised well-being" (Castells. 2000: 25).
In the 1990s, however, the rates of fraud, prostitution, drug trafficking and abuse, alcoholism, smuggling, white-collar crime, violence, and corruption skyrocketed (Castells, 2000; Handelman, 1995; Holmes, 1997; Lee, 1994; Shelley, 1994). To be sure, Russia is unique in the degree of chaos and disintegration that accompanied the transition to a market economy and the implementation of neoliberal reforms. Few countries have experienced the speed and intensity of privatization, deregulation, and the lack of political leadership and administrative skills we witness in Russia. Indeed, it is the closest we can come to a social state of anomie, without a total collapse and anarchy. This does not mean that Russia is atypical. Very similar, albeit less intense, processes have occurred throughout the world (Lee, 1999; Mander and Goldsmith, 1996; van Duyne et al., 2000). Nevertheless, precisely because it is such an extreme case, it illustrates the theoretical points made here and the process toward anomie and economc crime.
In the 1985 to 1989 period, reforms took place while the Communist Party was still in control. The Law on Cooperatives (1986) and the Law on Individual Labor Activity (1987) paved the way for further reforms, such as legalization of small businesses in 1989. Between 1990 and 1991, the USSR Supreme Soviet, with Yeltsin as chairman, introduced laws that made state and private enterprises equal, allowed state companies relative independence from government managers, abolished mostrestrictions on property bought by citizens, promoted privatization, and allowed foreign companies to operate in Russia. Such reforms did not take place at the same pace throughout the USSR. This set Russia apart from the Union and Yeltsin from Gorbachev. Legal asymmetries made the task of law enforcers impossible, as they did not know which laws to prioritize and apply (Afanasyef, 1994). Up to the 1991 coup and the collapse of the USSR, reforms were cautious and gradual, and had not challenged the core of the command economy system. F ollowing the failed coup and under Yeltsin, however, this changed dramatically. Demagogy and erroneous judgments on the feasibility of a swift transition to a market democracy compounded the problem. The Russian government was warned of the dire consequences of a speedy transition to a market economy without previous establishment of the necessary institutions and legal infrastructure. The chairman of an international advisory committee, which repeatedly issued warnings in 1992, was told that "forces in the Kremlin" favored a less "regulatory approach that would provide greater freedom of manoeuvre. Gaidar, supported by the IMF, believed firmly in the intrinsic capacity of market forces to remove obstacles by themselves, and people could use their vouchers to acquire shares" (Castells, 2000:188). Prices were liberalized, imports and exports became free, domestic trade restrictions were abolished, government intervention was minimized, and public property was massively privatized. By June 1994, officials were self-congratulatory over the fact that 70% of state assets had passed into private hands (Kuznetsova, 1994).
New Normative and Comparative Referents
The reforms initiated by Andropov and Gorbachev (perestroika and glasnost) allowed some freedom of speech and openness that let globalization and media influences into the USSR. The post-1991 changes, however, offered new hope out of the severe problems people were facing. Russian leaders fostered heightened aspirations by declaring that the country would soon be modernized and join the "civilized world." Authorities in the former Soviet republics made the same promise, arguing that '"since we gotrid of the Russians,' all obstacles to prosperity have been removed and Western standards are within reach" (Burbach et al., 1997: 118). There were forceful and impressive presentations of consumerist lifestyles as "desirable," "modern," and feasible. Distant comparative and normative referents were thus promoted by the media and advertising. Indeed, the yearning for Western lifestyles and consumption items made the initial acceptance of neoliberalism by the population much easier (Ibid.). Neoliberalism strengthened that desire and made consumerist dreams appear realistic. Even young Russians now would like to be like Mike and wear the same type of shoes or eat the same breakfast. As Glinkina (1994: 385) put it, an important factor contributing to the criminalization of the economy has been "a drastic stratification of the population's standard of living with a simultaneous loss, in a considerable part (especially among the youth), of socially important goals --replacing them with consumption ideals...."
It must be noted that the normative shift was far more radical in the former USSR and Eastern Europe than it was in Third World countries. The transition from socialism to capitalism by overzealous authorities espousing the new dogma of neoliberalism has had its own direct anomic effects, as will be seen below.
The Consequence: Means-Ends Discrepancies
The worldwide consequences of neoliberal policies were replicated in Russia. However, the effects have been far more disastrous than elsewhere: lower productivity, high unemployment, much steeper inequalities, increased levels of absolute poverty, disappearance of familiar safety nets, and administrations paralyzed by ineptness and corruption. The ensuing means-ends discrepancies are far more than a theoretical construct. They are painfully experienced by large numbers of people who realize that they simply cannot attain their goals. Within one year, inflation wiped outmost people's life savings, while the buying power of most wages dropped to the level of the 1950s. In the winter of 1993, funds were often insufficient to heat residential buildings (Burbach et al., 1997; Handelman, 1993).
As a new bourgeoisie emerged from the ashes of the Communist regime, one-third of the population became impoverished. The gap between the rich and the poor opened up suddenly and grew out of proportion. Official data indicate that in 1994 the difference between them was elevenfold. Researchers argue that the difference between the top 10% and the bottom 10% is 28-fold (Kuznetsova, 1994). Even the chair of the Privatization Commission admitted that the process created "pauper-proprietors" who "cannot survive without state protection" (cited in Burbach et al., 1997: 120).
Relative and Absolute Deprivation
The rising expectations of the 1960s led to disenchantment with Communism and paved the way for radical social change. The abandonment of the Soviet conservative model and very rapid implementation of neoliberal policies fueled hopes that a much better future was within reach. Russians rejected rigid stratification and strove for a socially mobile ideal. As has been noted, [the middle classes] believed that capitalism could offer even more. Thus, the modernization that had been promised by the neoliberals was perceived by the majority of the population as the modernization of consumption.... The Western model of consumption has finally triumphed, at least in the main cities. But for the majority of the people, the price is that even the former Soviet way of life has become an unattainable dream (Burbach et al., 1997: 124).
The aspiring yuppies have ended up as "dumpies," while a growing polarization makes them see a few of their compatriots enjoy luxuries attained by looting the remnants of the former USSR.
Thus, the post-Soviet Russian dream turned out to be a nasty nightmare (Handelman, 1995). As happened in many other countries, austerity, belt tightening, and lower (in some cases, no) salaries were imposed as consumerism took hold. The impact of these experiences on personal feelings is much more widespread, intense, and unpleasant due to the higher expectations. Even people who are not objectively deprived now feel relatively deprived. Comparisons between their present and past situations are unfavorable: "Formerly privileged sections of the Russian population, such as teachers, doctors, miners, and workers in the oil and gas industry, went on strike, for they could no longer survive on 50 to 70 dollars per month salaries" (Burbach et al., 1997: 125-126).
East-West political and administrative asymmetries, economic asymmetries, and relative deprivation in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR and disillusionment with Western policies and capitalism have been clearly criminogenic (Handelman, 1994; Shelley, 1994). Motives for various types of crime became abundant, illegal opportunity structures multiplied, and control systems have been seriously damaged and undermined. The Mertonian category of "conformity" has almost become a rarity, as crime rates increased sharply. Even worse is the problem of economic crime. Recorded economic crimes rose almost 23% during the first seven months of 2000, compared with the same period in 1999 (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, August 17, 2000). Strains and discontent have translated into a range of predatory misconduct, corruption, political violence, a variety of illegal markets, and expressive misconduct.
Search for Solutions and Anomie
In this context, many can be expected to "innovate," to employ illegal methods for survival or the satisfaction of their basic and newly acquired needs. Methods range from petty property crimes and prostitution to criminal enterprises and white-collar crime, depending on the social position of the offender. An electronics engineer, for example, could not live on his three dollars per month and moonlighted as a taxi driver. When his taxi broke down, he turned to selling poppy straw (OGD, 1996). Unpaid and depressed professionals with access to more valuable commodities, such as nuclear material, pose an even more serious threat (Lee, 1999). Consumerist teasing increased demand for goods made unavailable (e.g., cars or electronics) by the economic collapse, fueling smuggling operations, black market networks, and associated illegal enterprises. Shortages of other desired goods are artificially created by quickly adapting entrepreneurs.
Similar conditions outside Russia explain the illegal car trade between Eastern and Western Europe (van Duyne et al., 2000) and the illegal trade in various commodities between China and Hong Kong before unification (Vagg, 1992). In Russia, many took advantage of such supply-demand asymmetries, including the vory v zakonye (commonly described as "thieves in law"), who had been the dominant type of professional offenders in the USSR. Structural changes and globalization, however, brought about more competition from ethnic groups (Armenians, Azeris, Chechens, Georgians, etc.) in drugs and arms trafficking, as well as from loose and ad hoc associations of criminals in certain locations or industries. Unsettling reports assert a symbiotic relationship between criminal groups and active or retired intelligence officials. Deteriorating economic conditions have facilitated recruitment for employees in growing illegal markets. Criminal enterprises, for instance, have "...invested heavily in the opium business, financing much of the new cultivation by hiring peasants and even entire villages to plant and protect the poppy crops" (Lee, 1994: 401).
Another source of criminal opportunities sprang from the disintegration of institutions and the disarray in law enforcement. Legitimate businesses are exposed to blackmail and other criminal victimization, but the authorities are unable to assist them. Consequently, many domestic and foreign companies deal with criminal groups and seek their protection, rather than rely on the government (Lee, 1994). Not surprisingly, the majority of Russian experts consider the strengthening of criminal groups to be a "very significant" social consequence of the market reforms introduced in 1992 (Afanasyef, 1994).
Other illicit opportunities were furnished by the privatization process, such as selling state assets at extremely low prices or driving down the prices of privatized companies so as to cheaply purchase vouchers owned by individuals desperate to make ends meet. Privatization in countries with an existing bourgeoisie and experienced managers and entrepreneurs facilitated certain corporate crimes and abuses of power by respected professionals. In Russia, the mix of offenders was different: former company directors, the nomenklatura, professional criminals, and new entrepreneurs with a black market background (Glinkina, 1994; Kuznetsova, 1994; Shelley, 1994). The attempt of former Communist officials to dominate this field did not prove lasting. Many were not competent to run private businesses and had to sell them or lose control. The main beneficiaries seem to be former black marketers and outsiders to the old order (Naylor, 1999b). The abuse of privatization has had an anomic effect as the impunity of offenders became widely known, to the point that Russians began to refer to privatization (privatizatsiya) as prikhvatizatsiya, which means "grabbing" (Handelman, 1995: 104).
Crime and corruption in the midst of privatization fervor are not unique to Russia. (On other previously Communist states, see Popescu-Birlan, 1994; on Latin America, see Saba and Manzetti, 1996-1997.) As a former World Bank official put it, "everything we did from 1983 onward was based upon our new sense of mission to have the south privatized or die; towards this end we ignominiously created economic bedlam in Latin America and Africa" (cited in Katona, 1999). Another similarity with other parts of the world is the degree of authoritarianism that accompanied neoliberal policies. While stimulating rapid accumulation of private capital, the role of the state is reduced to implementing financial austerity. When people started to oppose such measures, "Yeltsin resorted, with Western support, to establishing a semi-authoritarian regime. Making Russian 'reformers' invincible to political and legal challenges inside the country contributed to further criminalization of the Russian State, which acquired an oligarchic character" (Beare, 2000:6). As similar processes occurred around the world, from Pinochet's Chile to Suharto's Indonesia, one wonders if such reforms would have been possible in a democracy.
Legal organizations also "innovate" by cutting corners and breaking the law due to the environment created by unsystematic legal reforms. Unable to navigate a sea of legal gaps and inconsistencies, "...most managers of private as well as state-owned enterprises cannot run their businesses without committing crimes" (Afanasyef, 1994: 437). Many companies cannot handle the competitive challenges generated by globalism and require state protection. The subsidization of privatized companies, however, introduces further regulatory and price asymmetries that foster the smuggling of goods across newly created borders within the former USSR (see below on nonferrous materials). Enterprises that do not enjoy state intervention are at a disadvantage and may be forced into bankruptcy or crime as a last resort. This is analogous to the situation in all countries that abolish trade barriers, let transnational corporations in, and eliminate preferential treatment for domestic industries.
High-level corruption and banking crimes have become quite common, as the networks of mobsters, financiers, businessmen, and high-level officials extend beyond Eurasia (Beare, 2000). The ongoing investigations into billions of dollars (possibly IMF-provided funds) laundered through the Bank of New York have expanded to include British, Swiss, and Italian entities and actors.
Moreover, pyramid schemes and other frauds have devastated gullible investors, as is the case with other post-Communist countries. Independent Oil, Lenin Trade and Financial Corporation, Aldzher (a security corporation), and other companies defrauded more than a million depositors and investors. Just as the Lincoln Savings and Loan frauds were committed in midst of obsessive deregulation in the U.S. against "the weak, the meek, and the old," Russian pensioners have been the main fraud victims (Glinkina, 1994).
Economic asymmetries among countries produce another set of criminal opportunities, as many become strongly motivated to flee the problem and search for a better future in the West, where the "goodies" are available. However, neoliberalism has promoted the free movement of everything but labor. Quotas and restrictions in promised lands generate demand for illegal services such as the smuggling of humans (Chin, 1999). This leads to opportunities for criminal exploitation, corruption, child/cheap labor, slavery, and forced prostitution.
Women, who are increasingly breadwinners but make up two-thirds of the newly unemployed in Russia, are even more vulnerable in this respect. Economic desperation drives many of them to prostitution or high risk taking. Lack of opportunity makes Russians and East Europeans softer targets for human traffickers. They are more likely to be lured to the West with promises of well-paying, respectable jobs only to end up blackmailed, beaten up, and forced into prostitution (Bruinsma, 1999; Shelley, 1994). The same problems faced by Thai, Mexican, and other women in the U.S. have led to a public hearing before the House Subcommittee on International Operations and Human Rights (September 14, 1999).
Relative deprivation and experience of injustice have a revolutionary potential too. International communications convey the message that injustice and inequality are avoidable. Events in one corner of the earth affect feelings and encourage people elsewhere to rebel against aggression. This may inspire change and foster rebellion. Just as the ideals of the French Revolution led to rebellions in the Balkans against the Ottoman rule (Hovannisian, 1994), the independence of the Baltic states and the U.N. response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait inspired the East Timorese to fight against the Indonesian autocratic rule (Dunn, 1994). The uprising of Zapatistas in Mexico was deliberately started on January 1, 1994, the day NAFTA went into effect, "as a highly symbolic way to protest neoliberalism and globalisation in Mexico and Latin America" (Robinson, 1998-1999: 123-124).
Repressed nationalism, globalism, and bad times have jointly contributed to several armed conflicts and rebellions in the former USSR (the Caucasus, Moldova, Crimea, Tajikistan, and Chechnya). Rebellion and illegal markets become interconnected, as armed conflicts necessitate training, weapons, intelligence, and financing. The cases of Chechnya, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Colombia show how political revolts are associated with corruption, money laundering, the traffic in arms, drugs, and even nuclear material and other crimes that go unpunished (Kuznetsova, 1994: 445; Lee, 1999; Naylor, 1999b; OGD, 1996). Chechnya, which survives thanks to donations from criminal organizations based in other parts of Russia, has become such a paradise for these activities that some depict the war there as "a crusade against a 'mafia republic,'" while others think of it as "a conflict between opposing criminal elites for the control of oil and the financial resources held by the government in Grozny" (Politi, 1998: 44).
Finally, "retreatism" is the only option left to those lacking access to illegal opportunities or who are unwilling to assume the associated risks of violence and arrest. Hence, expressive crimes could be expected. More important, the rates of alcohol and drug abuse (further facilitated by the decriminalization of drug use in Russia in 1991) increased geometrically, especially in the cities, and fueled the demand for things provided in illegal markets (Lee, 1994; OGD, 1996).
The transition from a command to a market economy practically legalized large parts of the black market and made legal business dependent on criminals' protection. The dismantling of borders and increased contact among previously isolated ethnic groups contributed to the formation of new, wider networks of illegality (Politi, 1998). The result was that one could hardly tell criminals from businessmen, particularly when some outlaw groups act on instructions from government officials or the police (Handelman, 1993). Given official efforts to ensure that the transition to a market economy would occur before substantial opposition could build and that the changes would be irreversible, too many shady actors were allowed to take advantage of this official shield (Glinkina, 1994; Naylor, 1999b). In this light, common views on government-criminal interfaces and symbiosis are plausible, although difficult to prove. Surveys in 1994 showed that the concern of Russians over organized crime was second only to their fears of triple-digit inflation (Afanasyef, 1994). At the perceptual level, therefore, this interface is real and has real consequences: demoralization and anomie.
The corrupted process of privatization has generated widespread rationalizations, such as, "it is OK to steal from the state" or "everyone is doing the same thing." Taking an example pointing to international security risks, Lee (1999: 21) has noted that, "perhaps the most serious problem is the growth of a privatization mentality within the nuclear complex. Economic reform has meant a license to steal. This has resulted in broad systemic corruption and a variety of insider threats and conspiracies."
An additional sign of anomie is what has been described as a "culture of urgency" among young killers:
For them there is no hope in society, and everything, particularly politics and politicians, is rotten. Life itself has no meaning, and their life has no future.... So, only the moment counts, immediate consumption, good clothing, good life, on the run, together with the satisfaction of inducing fear, of feeling powerful with their guns (Castells, 2000: 210).
Only effective social controls can halt the process toward further deviance and a higher degree of anomie (deviance without strain). Unfortunately, in Russia and elsewhere, a decreased level of autonomy for certain states, the increased power of international organizations and transnational corporations, and dysnomie add to the fuel.
Dependence, Deregulation, and the Race to the Bottom
"Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs (lesser developed countries)?" "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.... I've always thought that underpopulated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted; their air quality is vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City" (1991 memo attributed to World Bank official Lawrence Summers, who later became U.S. Secretary of Treasury; it is widely believed that he did not write it, even though he has accepted responsibility for it. At any rate, this illustrates the neoliberal mindset).
The loss of autonomy and reduced sovereignty of the state relative to capital referred to earlier (Korten, 1996; Watkins, 1997) is particularly acute in the former Communist countries. Speculative capital will quickly flee each country at the first sign trouble or wavering over neoliberal reforms. External debt grew in all former Communist countries, but especially in Russia, which bears the marks of Africa-like dependent capitalism and "colonial subjugation. The country exports fewer and fewer industrial products and more and more raw materials. Meanwhile, it imports low-quality mass consumption goods, obsolete and hence cheap technology, luxury items and radioactive waste" (Burbach et al., 1997: 120-121). An instance of the direct and blatant interference of foreign governments and transnational corporations in domestic matters was when Chase Manhattan urged the Mexican government to crush the Zapatista rebellion to calm down U.S. investors (Silverstein and Cockburn, 1995; see also Clinard, 1990).
Ironically, the higher degree of dependency in the South and East has lowered the accountability of politicians and corporations. They can now blame globalization for the loss of jobs and lower wages, and prescribe more "efficiency," deregulation, short-term austerity, and declining levels of public spending so as to keep capital in place or attract more. Thus, economic and political leaders appear to be protectors of the public interest and a stabilizing force, while they dismantle existing safety nets (economic neoliberalism has also undermined political liberalism; Klak, 1998).
The Russian government's aversion to regulation (Glinkina, 1994) is observable in other countries, where deregulation turned into competitive deregulation and a race to the bottom. Even in the U.S., the savings and loan disaster and the asymmetric regulation of hazardous wastes demonstrate how criminogenic this process has been. This made it possible to dump legally in Pennsylvania what was prohibited in New Jersey, in what has been termed "crimes without law violations" (Passas, 1999). Such crimes are most likely in the global context given the overwhelming influence of TNCs over national laws and macroeconomic policies. This has prompted some to speak of "rationalized corporate colonialism" (Mander, 1996). Such asymmetries of power make for legal norms that allow overseas that which is, for good reason, criminalized in the base country (e.g., toxic waste dumping, testing drugs on humans, bribery, tax evasion, as well as the patenting of life forms by biotechnology companies and other outrageous practices) (see King and Stabinsky, 1998-1999; Shiva, 1997). The legal asymmetries and uneven power of transnational corporations that create or perpetuate these and other asymmetries give rise to crimes without law violations. Thus, entire countries become vulnerable to victimization by TNCs, a significant problem that is often neglected in conventional discussions of transnational crime. The volatile combination of low wages, bad working conditions, tax breaks only for the rich/corporations, lower environmental standards, deregulation, and less corporate and political accountability with the government relegated to the protection of the international free trade system has predictably made for crises (e.g., Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mexico, and Brazil). It also makes for dysnomie.
Dysnomie and Further (Global) Anomie
Dysnomie literally means "difficulty to govern" and obtains when the following three conditions are present: a lack of a global norm-making mechanism, inconsistent enforcement of existing international rules, and the existence of a regulatory patchwork of diverse and conflicting legal traditions and practices. Russia is in this respect a microcosm that reflects what is happening in the entire world.
Since reforms took place at an uneven pace in each Soviet Republic, an asymmetry grew wider following the collapse of the USSR. In addition, this collapse suddenly created thousands of miles of new borders that had to be policed, just as state resources were diminished. This made for porous borders that offered no resistance to smugglers. This is how Estonia became the largest exporter of nonferrous materials, even though it does not produce any (Glinkina, 1994). Extensive legal changes accelerated the transition to a market economy, but they were marked by inconsistencies and lacked the necessary legal and institutional infrastructure (Handelman, 1995). For example, the law against private entrepreneurship and commercial mediations was repealed only on December 5, 1991. The law against black market transactions, which defined them as "the buying up and reselling of goods or other items for profit-making," was first amended in February 1990 to increase penalties for certain offenses, was then officially rein terpreted to refer only to trade in commodities sold at state-fixed prices (October 1990), and was finally repealed in February 1991 (Afanasyef, 1994: 429). Lack of resources made the problem worse, as underpaid, ill-equipped, and outgunned police could not be expected to do an effective job.
Weak controls allow criminals to get away and to regard themselves as successful. Deviant "solutions" came to be seen as keys to "success." Successful deviance then becomes a normative referent, contributing to a wider normative breakdown and overemphasis on goals at the expense of normative means. In the context of massive cultural shifts -- from the criminalizing of private profit and the hiring of labor outside the household to making them central values for a new social order -- the sense of right and wrong became fuzzy. As the deputy minister of Internal Affairs admitted at a 1992 press conference, "even our specialists find it difficult to determine the legal from the illegal -- to determine, for instance, what is profiteering and what is honest trade" (cited in Handelman, 1993). Corruption grew so much that up to 30% of illegal gains are reportedly paid to government officials (Glinkina, 1994; Lee, 1999). In the end, distinctions between white-collar crime, organized crime, corruption, and legitimate business are almost impossible to make. Lawbreaking behavior and success are fused. As a businessman told Handelman (1995: 139), "the truth is, everything you see around you, all our success, is not thanks to our wonderful economic laws. It's thanks to the fact that we do not obey them."
Dysnomic conditions also bring about anomie at the global level. As argued elsewhere (Passas, 1999), international law is more essential now than ever for the maintenance of world order and security. Yet, big powers are reluctant to contribute to the required pooling of sovereignty and have been blocking the development of an international criminal code and specific legislation to restrain their corporations. Dependent on rich countries for its operations, the U.N. has not been overly aggressive in pursuing these aims or in establishing a permanent international criminal tribunal. Globalism has thus run ahead of the creation of a desperately needed normative and enforcement infrastructure.
Existing international laws are applied selectively and never against one of the permanent members of the U.N. Security Counsel. This ad hoc approach and the extraterritorial application of national laws undermine the legitimacy of current laws and procedures. We are left with a legal patchwork of inconsistent and conflicting rules. An example of the effect of such asymmetries is the secrecy and anonymity available in certain jurisdictions that hinder investigative work by covering the tracks and proceeds of global offenders, de facto shielding them against prosecution and punishment. By exploiting the cracks between diverse state rules, companies continually commit crimes without law violation. Globalism also leads to a relativization of norms and facilitates law violations with a clear conscience (rationalizations and techniques of neutralization).
Finally, the border-policing problem in the former USSR is not unique, even if the underlying causes were specific to it and other European countries (Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia). More generally, borders become porous, as technology and mobility enabled people, money, goods, and ideas to travel quickly and cheaply. Criminals can take advantage of this shrinking world, but law enforcement agencies are constrained by parochial laws and procedures. Though the reasons for the porousness may differ, the process and results are the same.
Tremendous structural strains have overwhelmed even the usually patient and submissive Russians. The economic situation deteriorated further, hopes were dashed, opportunities for criminal gain and for looting the USSR's assets multiplied, and the anomic societal context offered no assistance to anyone seeking to restore some law and order. In Russia and around the world, the neoliberal operation was successful, but the patients are being systematically frustrated, are starving, and subject to exploitation by corporations, criminal enterprises, and corrupt politicians. In short, globalization and neoliberalism spread analytically similar criminogenic processes that were once unique to the U.S. culture of the American Dream in a context of structural inequalities. Just as the world supposedly became freer, wealthier, more democratic, more enjoyable, and more equal, people find themselves poorer, more exploited, and facing increased hardships. Just as the need for strong normative guidance grows, norms break down or lose their legitimacy. Just as effective controls become necessary to slow down or stop the vicious cycle leading to higher rates of crime, a dysnomic regulatory patchwork remains in place largely because of nationalist insistence on sovereignty and states' unwillingness to allow the introduction of common principles and law enforcement mechanisms.
Two main points need to be reiterated here. First, it appears that global neoliberalism and serious crime go hand in hand. However, it would be erroneous to argue that stereotypical organized criminals are giving capitalism a bad name and undermining neoliberal policies. The implication is that, were we to rid ourselves of some very bad apples, everything would be fine. Rather, it appears that serious organizational misconduct is a consequence of such policies. Second, when we discuss transnational crime, we should bear in mind that it is not just the stereotyped ethnics who cause most problems. It may be that the biggest threat emanates from legitimate corporations and other organizations.
Detailed discussion of policy implications is beyond the scope of this article. The horizontal arrows in Figure 1 hint at the points of possible policy intervention. Myriad concrete ideas can be found in the literature, ranging from legal changes to informal controls, grass-roots movements, integration of economic growth with environmental and social protection, relocalization of production and consumption, etc. The most important ray of hope, however, is implicit in the foregoing analysis. Neoliberal policies and globalization are largely the fruit of (some) governments. They affect and are affected by governance. Therefore, governments have the ability to reverse some of these processes and to mitigate their adverse consequences. Otherwise, the current processes of globalization and neoliberalism will prove to be unsustainable and at a huge cost.
Situation with neoliberalism in the USA now is an almost perfect illustration of the credibility trap. One cannot allow the illusion to falter, even a little, to the bitter end. And as the fraud fades, the force intensifies, becoming almost rabid in its deflection. Because that illusion has become the center of a hollowed people's being, their raison d'être, a mythological justification for their existence. Chris Hedges made an apt analogy with The Fall of Berlin 1945
I came across a nice, compact interview with Chris Hedges which illuminates his thesis of the decline of the American Empire and the illusions and the end of rational thinking that accompanies it. Empires seem to give off quite a bit of flash in their latter stages, rather like the last gasp of a dying star.
The interviewer, Allan Gregg, does a particularly nice job of drawing Hedges out.
I would like to add an observation I came to in thinking further about the Sophie Scholl piece which I put up earlier today. Perhaps there is something about gardening that focuses the mind.
The almost frenetic preoccupation and adherence to the Nazi ideology in the latter stages of the war, when it was obvious to any rational observer that they could not win, is remarkable. I had been particularly struck in my reading some time ago with the 'wolf packs' of Nazis who had raged through Berlin, rounding up old men and even boys who had not joined the Volkssturm, and hanging them, even while the Russians were shelling the Reichstag. It never made sense to me until today."The radio announced that Hitler had come out of his safe bomb-proof bunker to talk with the fourteen to sixteen year old boys who had 'volunteered' for the 'honor' to be accepted into the SS and to die for their Fuhrer in the defense of Berlin. What a cruel lie! These boys did not volunteer, but had no choice, because boys who were found hiding were hanged as traitors by the SS as a warning that, 'he who was not brave enough to fight had to die.'I was reminded of this phenomenon by the trial of Sophie Scholl, and her words to the judge Roland Freisler, as he ranted his virulent condemnations at them. 'Soon you will be in our place,' she said to him. He did escape the hangman's noose at Nuremburg, but only by virtue of an Allied bomb in 1945. When his body was brought to hospital an orderly remarked, 'It was God's verdict.' He was buried in an unmarked grave, without ceremony and unmourned. Much like his beloved Fuhrer.
When trees were not available, people were strung up on lamp posts. They were hanging everywhere, military and civilian, men and women, ordinary citizens who had been executed by a small group of fanatics. It appeared that the Nazis did not want the people to survive because a lost war, by their rationale, was obviously the fault of all of us. We had not sacrificed enough and therefore, we had forfeited our right to live, as only the government was without guilt."
Dorothea von Schwanenfluegel, Eyewitness account, Fall of Berlin 1945
This is an almost perfect illustration of the credibility trap. One cannot allow the illusion to falter, even a little, to the bitter end. And as the fraud fades, the force intensifies, becoming almost rabid in its deflection. Because that illusion has become the center of a hollowed people's being, their raison d'être, a mythological justification for their existence.
If the ideology had been a lie, then they are not heroes and gods on earth, but monsters and criminals, and their life has been self-serving and meaningless, without significance and honor. And that is the credibility trap.
And this is the US financial system today.
So the legitimacy of neoliberalism is gone since events of 2008 and consequences of this epochal event are still unclear. As chances that the USA will get rid of neoliberalism voluntarily are slim, we might be present in a crush of yet another empire. That might mirror the destiny of the USSR which fell when its ideology became delegitimized. With the key difference that the USA elite is much more aggressive and ready to use whatever means possible to preserve its status when it is under threat.
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12/17/2014 | zerohedge.com
"...so many still maintain that America is the greatest nation in the world. They swear that America represents all that is good; freedom, democracy, merit based capitalism and the rights of the individual. That is true America does represent such things. However, it is fraudulent to consider our current nation America. America was a concept that promoted all that is good. And so it would seem that the nation in which they find themselves cannot be America. Their nation today represents the will of the political class at all costs, period. Their sole motivation is themselves. Very different from America. And so perhaps a renaming on the nation is required, at least until or if the people decide to take it back and reintroduce the world to the concept that is America for as discussed below you cannot destroy a concept and so there is hope to bring her back. But until then we need a name for this geographic region and its new societal system... It seems"Neoconica" is most fitting."
Dec 12, 2014 | counterpunch.org
The maiming and breaking of bodies and the forms of unimaginable pain inflicted by the Bush administration on so-called “enemy combatants” was no longer seen in violation of either international human rights or a constitutional commitment to democratic ideals. The war on terror had now reduced governance in the United States to a legalized apparatus of terror that mimicked the very violence it was meant to combat. In the aftermath of 9/11, under the leadership of Bush and his close neoconservative band of merry criminal advisors, justice took a leave of absence and the “gloves came off.” As Mark Danner states, “the United States transformed itself from a country that, officially at least, condemned torture to a country that practised it.” But it did more. Under the Bush-Cheney reign of power, torture was embraced in unprecedented ways through a no holds-barred approach to the war on terror that suggested the administration’s need to exhibit a kind of ethical and psychic hardening-a hyper-masculine, emotional callousness that expressed itself in a warped militaristic mind-set fueled by a high testosterone quotient. State secrecy and war crimes now became the only tributes now paid to democracy.
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Waterboarding, which has been condemned by democracies all over the world, consists of the individual being “bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual’s feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner [and] produces the perception of ‘suffocation and incipient panic.'” The highly detailed, amoral nature in which these abuses were first defined and endorsed by lawyers from the Office of Legal Council was not only chilling but also reminiscent of the harsh and ethically deprived instrumentalism used by those technicians of death in criminal states such as Nazi Germany.
Andy Worthington suggests that there is more than a hint of brutalization and dehumanization in the language used by the OLC’s Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Steven G. Bradbury, who wrote a detailed memo recommending:
“nudity, dietary manipulation and sleep deprivation”—now revealed explicitly as not just keeping a prisoner awake, but hanging him, naked except for a diaper, by a chain attached to shackles around his wrists—[as,] essentially, techniques that produce insignificant and transient discomfort. We are, for example, breezily told that caloric intake “will always be set at or above 1,000 kcal/day,” and are encouraged to compare this enforced starvation with “several commercial weight-loss programs in the United States which involve similar or even greater reductions in calorific intake” … and when it comes to waterboarding, Bradbury clinically confirms that it can be used 12 times a day over five days in a period of a month—a total of 60 times for a technique that is so horrible that one application is supposed to have even the most hardened terrorist literally gagging to tell all.
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In spite of the appalling evidence presented by the report, members s of the old Bush crowd, including former Vice-President Cheney, former CIA directors, George J. Tenet and Michael V. Hayden, and an endless number of prominent Republican Party politicians are still defending their use of torture or, as they euphemistically contend, “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The psychopathic undercurrent and the authoritarian impulse of such reactions finds its most instructive expression in former Bush communications chief Nicolle Wallace who while appearing on the “Morning Joe” show screeched in response to the revelations of the Senate Intelligence report “I don’t care what we did.” As Elias Isquith, a writer for Salon, contends, as “grotesque as that was, though, the really scary part was [the implication that] waterboarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions and sexual assault is part of what makes ‘America ‘great.’” Wallace’s comments are more than morally repugnant. Wallace embodies the stance of so many other war criminals who were either indifferent to the massive suffering and deaths they caused or actually took pride in their actions. They are the bureaucrats whose thoughtlessness and moral depravity Hannah Arendt identified as the rear guard of totalitarianism.
Illegal legalities, moral depravity, and mad violence are now wrapped in the vocabulary of Orwellian doublethink. For instance, the rhetorical gymnastics used by the torture squad are designed to make the American public believe that if you refer to torture by some seemingly innocuous name then the pain and suffering it causes will suddenly disappear. The latter represents not just the discourse of magical thinking but a refusal to recognize that “If cruelty is the worst thing that humans do to each other, torture [is] the most extreme expression of human cruelty.” These apostles of torture are politicians who thrive in some sick zone of political and social abandonment, and who unapologetically further acts of barbarism, fear, willful lies, and moral depravity. They are the new totalitarians who hate democracy, embrace a punishing state, and believe that politics is mostly an extension of war. They are the thoughtless gangsters reminiscent of the monsters who made fascism possible at another time in history. For them, torture is an instrument of fear; one sordid strategy and element in a war on terror that attempts to expand governmental power and put into play a vast (il)legal and repressive apparatus that expands the field of violence and the technologies, knowledge, and institutions central to fighting the all-encompassing war on terror. Americans now live under a government in which the doctrine of permanent warfare is legitimated through a state of emergency deeply rooted in a mass psychology of violence and culture of cruelty that are essential to transforming a government of laws into a regime of lawlessness.
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There is another story to be told about another kind of torture, one that is more capacious and seemingly more abstract but just as deadly in its destruction of human life, justice, and democracy. This is a mode of torture that resembles the “mind virus” mentioned in the Senate report, one that induces fear, paralysis, and produces the toxic formative culture that characterizes the reign of neoliberalism. Isolation, privatization, and the cold logic of instrumental rationality have created a new kind of social formation and social order in which it becomes difficult to form communal bonds, deep connections, a sense of intimacy, and long term commitments. Neoliberalism has created a society of monsters for whom pain and suffering are viewed as entertainment or deserving of scorn, warfare is a permanent state of existence, torture becomes a matter of expediency, and militarism is celebrated as the most powerful mediator of human relationships.
Under the reign of neoliberalism, politics has taken an exit from ethics and thus the issue of social costs is divorced from any form of intervention in the world. This is the ideological metrics of political zombies. The key word here is atomization and it is the curse of both neoliberal societies and democracy itself. A radical democracy demands a notion of educated hope capable of energizing a generation of young people and others who connect the torture state to the violence and criminality of an economic system that celebrates its own depravities. It demands a social movement unwilling to abide by technological fixes or cheap reforms. It demands a new politics for which the word revolution means going to the root of the problem and addressing it non-violently with dignity, civic courage, and the refusal to accept a future that mimics the present. Torture is not just a matter of policy, it is a deadening mindset, a point of identification, a form of moral paralysis, a war crime, an element of the spectacle of violence, and it must be challenged in all of its dreadful registers.
Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and a Distinguished Visiting Professorship at Ryerson University. His most recent books are America’s Education Deficit and the War on Youth (Monthly Review Press, 2013) and Neoliberalism’s War on Higher Education (Haymarket Press, 2014). His web site is www.henryagiroux.com.
 Cited in Edward S. Herman, “Folks Out There Have a ‘Distaste of Western Civilization and Cultural Values’,” Center for Research on Globalization (September 15, 2001). Online at: ,http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/HER109A.html
. Carl Boggs supplies an excellent commentary on the historical amnesia in the U.S. media surrounding the legacy of torture promoted by the United States. See Carl Boggs, “Torture: An American Legacy,” CounterPunch.org (June 17, 2009). Online at: http://www.counterpunch.org/boggs06172009.html.
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Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality...
Justin Fox: Andy Haldane: The Regulator Who Explained the World: "The Haldane trademarks...
...a framework in economic theory, references to the latest in empirical research, grand historical sweep, and crystal-clear explanation... [plus] the subversive element found in the best of Haldane's work.... His Sept. 2, 2010 speech "Patience and Finance"... bowled over by how good it was....
Under one equilibrium, patience wins the day. When long-term investors start in the ascendency, prices tend to correct towards fundamentals. The performance of untested investors pursuing momentum strategies falters, while those pursuing longterm strategies flourish. The fraction of long-term investors rises. The self-correcting tendencies of market prices are thus reinforced, further supporting long-term investors. The patience gene thrives, the impatience gene dies. Natural selection results in a self-improving cycle, as with dieting, happiness and exercise. But there is a second equilibrium where this cycle operates in reverse gear.... Natural selection results in a self-destructive cycle....
Haldane then goes on to meticulously document the ways that, over the past decade, financial markets--especially in the U.S. and UK--succumbed to the impatience cycle.... Another Haldane speech 'The Short Long'... 'Control Rights (and Wrongs)'.... As somebody who has long trafficked in explanatory financial journalism, I stand somewhat in awe...
Graydon said in reply to JC... Reply November 30, 2014 at 11:18 AM
You're arguing that _everybody is wrong_.
Axiomatically, in a democracy, everybody is not wrong. Practically, any time you find yourself thinking "everyone but me is an idiot", you've made a mistake.
I'd suggest you consider that the pricing mechanism is just flat broken. (Prices, after all, are chiefly socially determined.)
Pipeline and rail operators are very clearly totally indifferent to public safety; margins get cut to support maximal profits, and the occasional immolated town provides no feedback because there is no mechanism to impose the costs on a corporate entity; the corporate goes away, its assets are sold to some other corporate for a song, and the liability, chained to the first corporate, has vanished. It's completely rational for people to want some assurance that they won't be burned to death in their beds, that their water won't be poisoned, that the pipeline won't pump their land full of toxic sludge with no prospect of warning or recompense.
You can't actually say "broad benefits to the economy" without a working pricing structure, which we haven't got. What you can -- and appear to be -- saying is "profits would be higher if it was easier to impose localized suffering outside the accounting system", which, yeah, that's probably factual. That doesn't make it good, or a wrong thing to oppose.
...Mirowski answers by suggesting that we must understand neoliberalism as a Russian doll. The innermost doll of experts emerged from the Mont Pelerlin Society, an organization that was by design very hierarchical. He describes, for instance, correspondence between Popper and Hayek. Popper, following his philosophy of open debate suggested that MPS should have at least one respectable socialist. Hayek shut down this idea, insisting that agreement on first principles was a necessary condition for membership. This tightly networked group of intellectuals slowly incubated neoliberalism and developed a political strategy for propagating it.
Mirowski further points out that the Neoliberal Thought Collective were excellent sloganeers. Friedman's most famous academic text, for instance, argues that a lack of government intervention caused the Great Depression: a series of rural bank failures caused by an overly tight supply of money. However, when Friedman penned his Newsweek column he claimed with a straight face that the government *caused* the Recession, that is, by a lack of action in expanding the supply of money and reducing interest rates. This is how the Russian doll works: nuance for the insiders, ignorance for the outsiders.
There is a further layer to the doll though. Pivoting off of Foucault's final lectures at the College of France, Mirowski argues that there is an everyday neoliberalism that has emerged. Beyond political theory and public policy, neoliberalism is experienced on a quotidian level and it is on that potent terrain that it has survived the crisis. I, right now, am taking time out of my day to write a book review which I will be paid nothing for, which is in the service of the Bezo empire to sell even more books and probably destroy more local bookshops and which will be used to further quantify me into some bits of data in the sky so I can be marketed to even more heavily. But but but: I am individually expressing myself! How free am I!
The neoliberal self is a creature coerced into being a "free" entrepreneur. It is the poor un/underemployed soul who thinks himself to be a failure or inadequate because he was not lucky enough to ride the right wave. The old liberal arts dictum to "know thy self" becomes "express thy self, and monetize it too!" This middle chapter here is the most engrossing part of the book. Mirowski delves into a sundry of sources on our culture and then leverages a novel and erudite analysis of Foucault to bring it all into sharp focus.
In closing, it is truly ironic that the other review of this book is so gravely concerned that Mirowski might be a socialist. We have a wonderful little anthropological artifact here of the NTC at work: "Whatever this book says, it's got 'Red' in a chapter title. I am a Very Reasonable Person and thus must be suspicious." Let me assure him/her: there are no calls for a violent revolution of the proletariat. On the contrary, Mirowski heads out to the outermost layer of the doll and analyzes why neoliberalism won. In particular, he argues that the NTC provided a powerful account of the market as a natural entity that *cannot* be messed with. Consequently, the Recession had nothing to do with the structure of capitalism itself, it was just a "once in a lifetime" moment akin to a natural disaster. An act of God.
Mirowski's careful history here shows that just the opposite is true. There was a concerted effort to propagate a particular ignorance and the Recession itself is by no means removed from that particular effort.James R. Maclean
On the Nonbarking of Dogs, OctoberThis book is exceptionally penetrating in its examination of the neoliberal project. Mirowski has for many years been a persistent scourge of orthodox economics, attacking its ersatz scientism in More Heat than Light (1989), and later its conspiratorial inner circle in The Road from Mont Pelerin (2009). Readers unfamiliar with the "Neoliberal Thought Collective" (NTC) will probably feel overwhelmed with the scope of this book: its etiology of neoliberalism is so relentless, it needs to examine both the moral philosophy and the anthropology spawned by it.A Serious Analysis Gone To Waste,
For this reason, he does not see neoliberalism as merely a view of how economies "work"; rather, he shows how its luminaries sought to create nothing less than a permanent empire of motion, in which all human agency was to be subordinated to an all-knowing market. While its votaries deny the very existence of any neoliberal project, the NTC is not only quite active, it is multifarious and ubiquitous. Mirowski briefly reviews some of the organs by which the NTC assures its acolytes influence, prestige, and pelf (1), but mainly focuses on the way in which it built upon, and distanced itself from, the neoclassical economics of the period 1870-1930.
I--In "Shock Block Doctrine" (2), Mirowski explains the outlook of Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) cofounder Friedrich von Hayek (3). Hayek argued that liberalism (never defined in Mirowski's book, alas, but evidently meant to refer to the doctrine of negatively-defined individual rights) was at odds with the doctrine of democracy, and potentially its antithesis (p.57).
Mirowski's analysis, as always, is schematic; he points to efforts by the NTC to replace citizenship with consumerism (e.g., fixing education with school vouchers), and using orthodox economic models to devise policies explicitly to bypass agency problems associated with electoral politics. Some readers will no doubt object to his crash course in Hayek's political philosophy, which is traced directly to the coercive nature of austerity measures adopted following the Global Financial Crisis. However, the schemata does allow Mirowski to inject Carl Schmitt's doctrine of the "exception" into his narrative--an undeniable benefit in view of the austerity mania gripping the developed world right now (4).
II--"Everyday Neoliberalism" bores down to the pervasive character of neoliberalism, in which "market" transactions have gone so far as to redefine what it means to be an individual or to exercise volition.
III--"Mumbo Jumble" and "Shock of the New" explain both the self-apologia of orthodox economics in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis--viz., so "underwhelming" (or defiant and insolent) as to suggest some sort of higher power standing watch over that odious profession--and the structure of that higher power. Heavily larded with quotes from prominent economists and statistics. "Shock of the New" specifically addresses the inadequacies of attempts to incorporate "irrational" behavior (5).
IV--"The Red Guide to the Neoliberal Playbook" explicitly rejects any prescriptive approach, often encountered in crisis literature, and a lot of readers may object to the despairing tone of this chapter. Nearly all of the countervailing movements to the NTC come under withering criticism, none of which needs to be defended here because of the obvious historical outcomes (6).
A MINOR CRITICISM
Mirowski's overview of the literature of his subject is vast, especially if one includes materials discussed in prior works. It's one thing to say that the task he set for himself was to diagnose, and not prescribe; but this division of labor implies that someone else is expected to prescribe, and yet this overview guns down all known ripostes to the NTC. In other words, Mirowski's expertise in taxonomies of economic thought is SO broad that, if he reports no viable counterweight to the NTC, then he probably thinks none exists. This is unlikely to be so.
Another objection is that Mirowski insists on the uniqueness of the NTC as an actor; the NTC is the premier conspiracy, and other forms of the far right are its dupe. Without going into detail, I think Mirowski wanted to tell a story of a preternaturally deft political movement and did so by ignoring prior conditions, rival forms of the political right, and longstanding political verities (e.g., for all recording history, it has been extremely hard to pass legislation over the objections of the economic elites--even when "watered down"). The NTC has been only the latest (?) in a long tradition of aristocrats resisting encroachments on their prerogatives by denouncing "tyranny.
(1) A lot of information is available at Sourcewatch (an "org" domain; URLs are forbidden in Amazon reviews). Mirowski says that he uses the Mont Pèlerin Society (MPS) as a "Rosetta stone" (p.39) to identify people or institutions that qualify as neoliberal.
(2) The title of the chapter is a reference to Naomi Klein's book, The Shock Doctrine(2007). Mirowski's book is a detailed exposition of the personnel and outlook behind the shock.
(3) Along with Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, Lionel Robbins, and a few others (in 1947). Ludwig von Mises later broke with the MPS for being ideologically impure (see Murray Rothbard, The Essential von Mises, p.112). Hayek understood "democracy" as reflecting the outcome of a popular vote, including decisions made by legislators elected by popular vote. Mirowski doesn't mention this here, but Hayek's view of the relationship between liberalism and democracy is explicitly borrowed from Ortega y Gasset (Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty: The Definitive Edition, 1960, pp.442-443). See Roland Axtman (1996), p.38.
(4) Carl Schmitt is most famous as a legal theorist who served the Nazi regime, justifying its every public act. His doctrine of the "state of exception," or inherently unforeseeable emergency, was used to explain the urgent need to liquidate democratic institutions. Mirowski mentions the examples of appointed prime ministers for Greece and Italy in order to administer austerity programs there (p.85). Greece and Italy are governed by massive party coalitions that permitted the suspension of democratic selection of the cabinet.
(5) Specifically, George Akerlof and Robert Shiller, whose book Animal Spirits (2009) comes under extensive fire (pp.258-259); and architects of TARP. TARP, of course, was actually just one of a vast complex of lending facilities for different types of financial instruments.
(6) Mirowski is sympathetic to OWS, but as of publication, it was a damp squib. Even in European countries, marked as they are by far higher standards of social justice and participatory democracy (and suffering from more violent reversals than those in the USA), protests had the perverse effect of enabling a continent-wide shift to the right.
March 21, 2014
S Wood (Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown (Hardcover)
My feelings regarding Mirowski's "Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste" are decidedly mixed, on the one hand there is much fascinating information and analysis with regards to both Economists and the Financial Meltdown, on the other... well imagine Thomas Franks (of One Market Under God & Pity the Billionaire fame) mainlining a hefty load of hard-core academic jargon, and you have some idea of the style Mirowski writes in and the minor headache I developed from time to time while reading it.
Some of it is brilliant, Mirowski has read up on his Hayek and Friedman and the rest of the Mont Pelerin folks (spreading out to those with varying degrees of connections into what Mirowski terms the Neo-Liberal Thought Collective), and their thoughts and methods; his examination of the links between Macro Economists and the Federal Reserve and with Wall St throws much light on the reasons for the almost total lack of innovation in their responses to the Financial Meltdown. But even these insights have to be teased out from the heavy load of academic terminology that he has larded this book with.
This should have been (and perhaps will be if someone does a plain English translation) one of the best books written on the Financial Meltdown of 2007 onwards, and certainly the best one on Economists and the Meltdown, but instead Mirowski's raucous riff-a-rama of esoteric academic terminology means that he may as well have erected a 'Keep Out!' sign for the general reader.
It also needs to be kept in mind that apart from the pursuit of truth, each individual becomes the criterion for measuring himself and his own actions. The way is thus opened to a subjectivistic assertion of rights, so that the concept of human rights, which has an intrinsically universal import, is replaced by an individualistic conception of rights. This leads to an effective lack of concern for others and favours that globalization of indifference born of selfishness, the result of a conception of man incapable of embracing the truth and living an authentic social dimension.
This kind of individualism leads to human impoverishment and cultural aridity, since it effectively cuts off the nourishing roots on which the tree grows. Indifferent individualism leads to the cult of opulence reflected in the throwaway culture all around us. We have a surfeit of unnecessary things, but we no longer have the capacity to build authentic human relationships marked by truth and mutual respect. And so today we are presented with the image of a Europe which is hurt, not only by its many past ordeals, but also by present-day crises which it no longer seems capable of facing with its former vitality and energy; a Europe which is a bit tired and pessimistic, which feels besieged by events and winds of change coming from other continents.
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Similarly, the contemporary world offers a number of other challenges requiring careful study and a common commitment, beginning with the welcoming of migrants, who immediately require the essentials of subsistence, but more importantly a recognition of their dignity as persons. Then too, there is the grave problem of labour, chiefly because of the high rate of young adults unemployed in many countries – a veritable mortgage on the future – but also for the issue of the dignity of work.
It is my profound hope that the foundations will be laid for a new social and economic cooperation, free of ideological pressures, capable of confronting a globalized world while at the same time encouraging that sense of solidarity and mutual charity which has been a distinctive feature of Europe, thanks to the generous efforts of hundreds of men and women – some of whom the Catholic Church considers saints – who over the centuries have worked to develop the continent, both by entrepreneurial activity and by works of education, welfare, and human promotion. These works, above all, represent an important point of reference for the many poor people living in Europe. How many of them there are in our streets! They ask not only for the food they need for survival, which is the most elementary of rights, but also for a renewed appreciation of the value of their own life, which poverty obscures, and a rediscovery of the dignity conferred by work.
Nov 21, 2014 | naked capitalism
One of the major criticisms of Capital in the Twenty First Century is that Thomas Piketty relies heavily on the ideas of neoclassical economics in his presentation, as here and here. Others recognize what seems to me to be the most important aspect of the book, it’s relentless assault on neoclassical economic theory, and its political cousin, neoliberalism. Here’s one example.
It’s not possible to tell what Piketty has in mind on this point. As I noted before, he is quite capable of working out ideas in the neoclassical mold, as he does with a study of the role of inheritance in wealth formation in a paper written with Gabriel Zucman. I think he is cutting out the heart of neoclassical theory, and slapping at the neoliberals who love it. To support my view, we can look at his discussion of marginal productivity as an explanation for wildly unequal income distribution. Neoliberals claim that the market rewards people according to their value in production. John Foster and Michael Yates give a good example:
Likewise Robert Lucas, Jr. of the University of Chicago, the most influential macroeconomist of his day, was merely stating the dominant view of the profession and of the establishment as a whole when he opined in 2004, “Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of [income] distribution. Fn omitted.
Piketty’s discussion of marginal productivity begins at page 304, for those who want to follow along in the text. He says that the main explanation for rising inequality of income is the race between education and technology. Those who have more education are better able to cope with technology, and thus are worth more in the marketplace of employment.
This theory rests on two hypotheses. First, a worker’s wage is equal to his marginal productivity, that is, his individual contribution to the output of the firm or office for which he works. Second, the worker’s productivity depends above all on his skill and on supply and demand for that skill in a given society.
This theory is crucial in the construction of the neoliberal project. First, it justifies the massive amount of money going to the C-Suite, the group Piketty sees as a crucial part of the new wealth oligarchy. Second, it has been internalized by most of our fellow citizens, who blame themselves for their economic status and are blind to the impact of social norms and governmental actions. Let’s first see what Piketty says, and then look at the impact on the neoliberal project.
“This theory is in some respects limited and naïve”, he tells us. First, the productivity of any given worker is not a fixed and immutable number, as he puts it, “inscribed on his forehead.” Second, he says that the relative power of each group is a crucial factor in determining how much each gets from revenues produced by the firm. He thinks that education and technology play a significant role:
…[I]f the United States (or France) invested more heavily in high-quality professional training and advanced educational opportunities and allowed broader segments of the population to have access to them, this would surely be the most effective way of increasing wages at the low to median end of the scale and decreasing the upper decile’s share of both wages and total income.
This analysis is based on a book by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz The Race Between Education And Technology, and not any special analysis by Piketty. It seems odd that one would draw the conclusion that raising the supply of educated workers would increase the price paid for their labor. It seems to contradict the law of supply and demand, and smells something like Say’s Law. One way to think about it is that labor is not a commodity like coke and iron ore; there is something special about it, an idea rejected by the neoliberals. And even in the long run, how does it work for the unlucky sperm club? And how did it work out for everyone who graduated in 2008 and thereafter? Perhaps he gets it right with this: “…theoretical discussion of educational issues and of meritocracy is often out of touch with reality….” 307.
He then takes up marginal productivity theory in more detail, eviscerating the role of training and education as setting wages in the short run. It is silly to believe that even trained workers are paid according to marginal production. First, it is impossible to measure this accurately, even in the case of repetitive tasks. Second, technology is not always available that requires highly trained people. Third, education is not solely instrumental; it has value in itself. The biggest issue, though, is that the simple theory is unable to account for differences across countries. Worker pay is the outcome of the way the society is organized. He discusses the role of the minimum wage in setting wages. It makes sense, he says to limit the power of the employer to set wages in many settings, obviously where there is a monopsony of employment, but more generally where the power of the employer is overwhelming. That would be the case where unemployment is ridiculously high, as it is today, and where the ability of workers to organize is ridiculously low, as it is today in the US.
In sum, Piketty rejects the theory of marginal productivity as a predictor of wages, and considers it irrelevant in understanding the growth of inequality.
He then asks why there is such a large variance in the growth of wage income at the very top of the income scale. The answer is not simply education, because most of the people in the top quintile have equivalent educations. The explosion of incomes in the top centile happened in the US and England, but not in continental European nations or in Japan. That blows another hole in the idea that marginal productivity explains the rise in top incomes. The data show that the top .01% in France, Japan and Sweden grew rapidly, almost doubling, while quintupling in the US. This difference cannot be explained by differential technological change, because that is fairly constant in all these countries.
The idea that marginal productivity explains anything about the very top incomes is laughable in Piketty’s telling. Consider a firm with 100,000 employees and 10 million Euros in revenues, and a cost of good and services purchased of 5 million Euros. The firm has 5 million Euros to divide among its employees. How should it set the compensation of its CFO? The theory of marginal productivity says we should figure out the value of the contribution of the CFO to the 5 million Euro figure. That’s not possible.
Let’s put this into a real life setting. Barry Ritzholz has the figures on the distribution of the bonus pool of $1.5 billion available at Pimco to be divided among 60 managing directors. Felix Salmon breaks it down:
The top of the food chain, that year, looked something like this*:
- Bill Gross: $290 million
- Mohamed El-Erian: $230 million
- Daniel Ivascyn: $70 million
- Wendy Cupps: $50 million
- Douglas Hodge: $45 million
- Jay Jacobs: $22 million
Obviously, the numbers here are mind-bogglingly enormous. But on top of that, they’re incredibly skewed towards the very, very top of the income distribution, in a perfectly Piketty-like manner.
The top two get 35% of the pool, the next three get 8%, and the other 55 get less than the average. Gross managed The Total Return Fund, which shrank nearly 1/3 during the last 16 months. Ivascyn managed the Income Fund, which has grown by 30% over that same year. In fact, Gross committed a stunning mistake, betting on an increase in interest rates in 2011 that seriously damaged the fund. Krugman called him on it in real time. So, it isn’t competence that resulted in the giant paycheck. Paying for lousy performance is pretty much the exact opposite of the marginal productivity theory. But there are plenty of studies showing that paying for lousy performance is common in big businesses, like the recent paper described here.
…[T]he companies run by the CEOS who were paid at the top 10% of the scale, had the worst performance. How much worse? The firms returned 10% less to their shareholders than did their industry peers. The study also clearly shows that at the high end, the more CEOs were paid, the worse their companies did; it looked at the very top, the 5% of CEOs who were the highest paid, and found that their companies did 15% worse, on average, than their peers.
Read the comments, and you’ll see how desperately people cling to the obviously false idea that pay is related to performance, which brings us back to the neoliberal project.
Philip Mirowski gives a brief description of the neoliberal project here, and a longer one in Chapters 2 and 3 of his book, Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste. As I read Mirowski, the point of the neoliberal project is to recreate the mass of humans as homo economicus, the economic person. One of its principal ideas has to do with the notion of human capital, that bizarre idea of Gary Becker of the University of Chicago. Mirowski quotes Michel Foucault in his book:
The Entrepreneurial Self cannot be passive, but must move strategically in a world rife with risk. Hence, reward and punishment are accepted by the agent as the outcome of calculated risk, not the dictates of ‘justice’. Id at 96.
Neoliberals have convinced the vast majority of our fellow citizens that they and they alone are responsible for their fates. They took risks and they lost, but it was their choice. I can hear Rick Santelli ranting in the background. At the same time, neoliberals insisted that governments everywhere bail out the filthy rich and their corporations, especially their financial corporations, and governments obliged. So, we screw the productive members of society and reward the slugs, all in line with neoliberal theory.
Neoclassical economics undergirds the neoliberal project. Piketty slashes at a piece of that foundation with his attack on marginal productivity. What now is the justification for the absurd compensation of the filthy rich? Tort law failed to deal with the sins of the bankers. Why aren’t they in jail? One more block pulled from the Jenga pile of vicious ideas so beloved of the rich and their government agents.
David Lentini, November 21, 2014 at 11:16 am
“Paying for lousy performance is pretty much the exact opposite of the marginal productivity theory. But there are plenty of studies showing that paying for lousy performance is common in big businesses, like the recent paper described here.”
Indeed, having suffered watching the well-placed foolish getting to ride the gravy train into the ground, these results really demonstrate that highly paid managers are not interested in doing business; they’re only interested in looting the firm or at least maximizing their deluded narcissistic status indicators. So, in reality, marginal productivity theory actually destroys businesses and economies by rewarding the worst of humanity.
“At the same time, neoliberals insisted that governments everywhere bail out the filthy rich and their corporations, especially their financial corporations, and governments obliged. So, we screw the productive members of society and reward the slugs, all in line with neoliberal theory.”
The real issue is power. The neoliberal project is really about destroying collective public power in favor of maximizing the power of a few. And our economists have been well rewarded for their efforts. Creating the red herring of just compensation as defined by “productivity” keeps everyone running around in circles or fighting amongst themselves; we never see who really matters and what they do. Of course the bailouts are actually in line with neoliberal theory, since they reflect the power of a few to avoid the consequences of their foolishness. Getting paid for doing nothing useful, or even destroying what’s valuable and productive, is a true sign of power and therefore liberty.
susan the other, November 21, 2014
This is a good start for breaking down our misery. It fits with Picketty’s theme that too much money itself becomes unproductive and sucks the life out of the real economy by taking rents and interest, etc. that over time are unaffordable because they create an imbalance that cannot rebalance itself. I thought the Fed did an interesting thing the other day. It actually asked the high level bankers what the overnight rate should look like now with plenty of liquidity and low interest rates.
That sounds like asking Bill and Mohammed what their compensation rate for their long-time productivity should be. So these new-normal bankers are being asked to predict the productivity of the new economy going forward. (Which, everyone knows, is nada.) But somebody has to give us a definition of what the “real economy” actually is. I think the answer will be astoundingly simple. It might be simply that the real economy is people, after all the bullshit is reduced.
And that will prove once and for all that everyone deserves an equal share of society and its “real” productivity. We should offer a prize to the firsts bankster who has the guts to say it.
Fair Economist, November 21, 2014 at 1:36 pm
As Karrass’ bestseller says “You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate”. Real labor productivity has doubled in the past 40 years, but wages haven’t changed. Any claim that raising productivity will necessarily raise wages has been refuted by reality. Gross’ gross overpayment for losing his company buckets of money is just the obverse.
Skilled workers doing what they’re good at generate a benefit for society, but not necessarily for themselves, as a huge number of enslaved artisans, entertainers, and even intellectuals have discovered over the centuries.
The 0.1% are trying to recreate that kind of situation without it being so obvious who’s exploiting whom.
Ed S., November 21, 2014
The one model which can plausibly explain the insane levels of compensation at the top: the “winner take most” tournament model.
The classic example is a tennis tournament – the winner of the 2014 US Open received $3mm; 2nd place $1.5mm (roughly); 3/4th gets $750k. If you get in (there are 128 entrants) — a measly $35k. (of course, the real money is in endorsements).
The motivation to attract new players isn’t the $35k – it’s the $3mm. Same with business today — a “winner take most” model – get the low to mid level people working 50 hours a week for $50k because there’s the possibility of the golden ticket to the C-Suite.
Marginal productivity has very little (if anything) to do with compensation — C-Suite execs come and go regularly with little change in the dynamics of the business (although a true incompetent can drive a company into the ground).
Sky high CEO and C-suite pay is, in a neoliberal way, pour encourager les autres
Sep 12, 2011 | The GuardianWe are living through an extraordinary political situation: the end of the debt-fuelled boom, the banking crisis of 2007-10, the defeat of New Labour and the rise to power of a Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition. What sort of crisis is this? Is it a serious wobble in the trickle-down, win-win, end-of-boom-and-bust economic model that has dominated global capitalism? Does it presage business as usual, the deepening of present trends, or the mobilisation of social forces for a radical change of direction? Is this the start of a new conjuncture?
My argument is that the present situation is another unresolved rupture of that conjuncture which we can define as "the long march of the Neoliberal Revolution". Each crisis since the 1970s has looked different, arising from specific historical circumstances. However, they also seem to share some consistent underlying features, to be connected in their general thrust and direction of travel. Paradoxically, such opposed political regimes as Thatcherism and New Labour have contributed in different ways to expanding this project. Now the coalition is taking up the same cause.
Neoliberalism is grounded in the "free, possessive individual", with the state cast as tyrannical and oppressive. The welfare state, in particular, is the arch enemy of freedom. The state must never govern society, dictate to free individuals how to dispose of their private property, regulate a free-market economy or interfere with the God-given right to make profits and amass personal wealth. State-led "social engineering" must never prevail over corporate and private interests. It must not intervene in the "natural" mechanisms of the free market, or take as its objective the amelioration of free-market capitalism's propensity to create inequality.
According to the neoliberal narrative, the welfare state mistakenly saw its task as intervening in the economy, redistributing wealth, universalising life-chances, attacking unemployment, protecting the socially vulnerable, ameliorating the condition of oppressed or maginalised groups and addressing social injustice. Its do-gooding, utopian sentimentality enervated the nation's moral fibre, and eroded personal responsibility and the overriding duty of the poor to work. State intervention must never compromise the right of private capital to grow the business, improve share value, pay dividends and reward its agents with enormous salaries, benefits and bonuses.
The formation of a Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition in May 2010 was fully in line with the dominant political logic of realignment. In the spirit of the times, Cameron, with Blair as his role model, signalled his determination to reposition the Tories as a "compassionate conservative party", though this has turned out to be something of a chimera.
At the same time, many underestimated how deeply being out of office and power had divided the Lib Dem soul. Coalition now set the neoliberal-inclined Orange Book supporters, who favoured an alliance with the Conservatives, against the "progressives", including former social democrats, who leaned towards Labour. A deal – its detail now forgotten – was stitched up, in which the social liberals were trounced, and Cameron and Clegg "kissed hands" in the No 10 rose garden (the former looking like the cat that had swallowed the cream). The Lib Dems thus provided the Cameron leadership with the fig leaf it needed – while the banking crisis gave the alibi. The coalition government seized the opportunity to launch the most radical, far-reaching and irreversible social revolution since the war.
Coalition policy often seems incompetent, with failures to think things through or join things up. But, from another angle, it is arguably the best prepared, most wide-ranging, radical and ambitious of the three regimes that, since the 1970s, have been maturing the neoliberal project. The Conservatives had for some time been devoting themselves to preparing for office – not in policy detail but in terms of how policy could be used in power to legislate into effect a new political settlement. They had convinced themselves that deep, fast cuts would have to be made to satisfy the bond markets and international assessors. But could the crisis be used, as the rightwing economist Milton Friedman had suggested, to "produce real change"?
The legislative avalanche began immediately and has not let up. It begins negatively ("the mess the previous government left us") but ends positively, in embracing radical structural reform as the solution. Ideology is in the driving seat, though vigorously denied. The front-bench ideologues – Osborne, Lansley, Gove, Maude, Duncan Smith, Pickles, Hunt – are saturated in neoliberal ideas and determined to give them legislative effect. As One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest put it: "The crazies are in charge of the asylum." They are single-minded about the irreversible transformation of society, ruthless about the means, and in denial about the fallout. Osborne – smirking, clever, cynical, "the smiler with the knife" – wields the chopper with zeal. Cameron – relaxed, plausible, charming, confident, a silver-spooned patrician, "a smooth man" – fronts the coalition TV show. This crew long ago accepted Schumpeter's adage that there is no alternative to "creative destruction". They have given themselves, through legislative manoeuvring, an uninterrupted five years to accomplish this task.
Its wide-ranging character must be judged in terms of the operational breadth of the institutions and practices they aim to "reform", their boldness in siphoning state-funding to the private sector, and the number of constituencies they are prepared to confront. Reform and choice – the words already hijacked by New Labour – are the master narrative. They may be Conservatives but this is not a conserving regime (it is a bemused Labour that is toying with the "blue-Labour" conservative alternative now). Tories and Lib-Dems monotonously repeat the dissembling mantras of their press and public relations people: "We are clearing up the mess inherited from the previous government." But the neoliberal engine is at full throttle.
We cannot deal with the cuts in any detail here. They have only just started and there is much more to come. Instead we limit ourselves to tracking the neoliberal logic behind the strategy.
First, targeted constituencies – ie anyone associated with, relying or dependent on the state and public services. For the rich, the recession never happened. For the public sector, however, there will be massive redundancies, a wage freeze, pay running well behind the rate of inflation, pensions that will not survive in their present form, rising retirement ages. Support for the less well off and the vulnerable will be whittled away, and welfare dependency broken. Benefits will be capped, workfare will be enforced. The old must sell homes to pay for care; working parents must buy childcare; and incapacity-benefit recipients must find work. Sure Start, the schools refurbishment programme and the Education Maintenance Allowance scheme are on hold. Wealthy parents can buy children an Oxbridge education: but many other students will go into lifelong debt to get a degree. You cannot make £20bn savings in the NHS without affecting frontline, clinical and nursing services. Andrew Lansley, however, "does not recognise that figure". Similarly, though everybody else knew that most universities would charge the maximum £9,000 tuition fees, David "Two-Brains" Willetts doesn't recognise that figure. Saying that square pegs fit into round holes has become a front-bench speciality.
Women stand where many of these savage lines intersect. As Beatrix Campbell reminds us, cutting the state means minimising the arena in which women can find a voice, allies, social as well as material support; and in which their concerns can be recognised. It means reducing the resources society collectively allocates to children, to making children a shared responsibility, and to the general "labour" of care and love.
Second, there is privatisation – returning public and state services to private capital, redrawing the social architecture. The Blair government was an innovator here. To avoid the political hassle of full privatisation, it found you could simply burrow beneath the state/market distinction. Outsourcing, value for money and contract contestability opened the doors through which private capital could slip into the public sector and hollow it out from within.
Privatisation now comes in three sizes:
- straight sell-off of public assets;
- contracting out to private companies for profit;
- two-step privatisation by stealth, where it is represented as an unintended consequence.
Some examples: in criminal justice, contracts for running prisons are being auctioned off and, in true neoliberal fashion, Ken Clarke says he cannot see any difference in principle whether prisons are publicly or privately owned; in healthcare, the private sector is already a massive, profit-making presence, having cherry-picked for profit medical services that hospitals can no longer afford to provide; while in the most far-reaching, top-down NHS reorganisation, GPs, grouped into private consortia (part of whose profits they retain), will take charge of the £60bn health budget.
Since few GPs know how, or have time, to run complex budgets, they will "naturally" turn to the private health companies, which are circling the NHS like sharks waiting to feed. Primary Care Trusts, which represented a public interest in the funding process, are being scrapped. In the general spirit of competition, hospitals must remove the cap on the number of private patients they treat.
Third, the lure of "localism". In line with David Cameron's Big Society, "free schools" (funded from the public purse – Gove's revenge) will "empower" parents and devolve power to "the people". But parents – beset as they are by pressing domestic and care responsibilities, and lacking the capacity to run schools, assess good teaching, define balanced curricula, remember much science or the new maths, or speak a foreign language, while regarding history as boring, and not having read a serious novel since GCSE – will have to turn to the private education sector to manage schools and define the school's "vision". Could the two-step logic be clearer?
Fourth, phoney populism: pitching communities against local democracy. Eric Pickles intends to wean councils permanently off the central grant system. Meanwhile, social housing is at a standstill, housing benefits will be cut and council rents allowed to rise to commercial levels in urban centres. Many will move to cheaper rentals, losing networks of friends, child support, family, school friends and school places. Parents must find alternative employment locally – if there is any – or allow extra travelling time. Jobseekers' allowances will be capped. As the private housing lobby spokesperson said: "We are looking forward to a bonanza." Since the early days of Thatcher we have not seen such a ferocious onslaught on the fabric of civil society, relationships and social life.
Fifth, cutting down to size state involvement in quality of life. Amenities such as libraries, parks, swimming baths, sports facilities, youth clubs and community centres will either be privatised or disappear. Either unpaid volunteers will "step up to the plate" or doors will close. In truth, the aim is not – in the jargon of 1968 from which the promiscuous Cameron is not ashamed to borrow – to "shift power to the people", but to undermine the structures of local democracy. The left, which feels positively about volunteering, community involvement and participation – and who doesn't? – finds itself once again triangulated into uncertainty. The concept of the Big Society is so empty that universities have been obliged to put it at the top of their research agenda on pain of a cut in funding – presumably so that politicians can discover what on earth it means: a shabby, cavalier, duplicitous interference in freedom of thought.
What is intended is a permanent revolution. Can society be permanently reconstructed along these lines? Is neoliberalism hegemonic?
The protests are growing. Weighty professional voices are ranged against structural reforms, and the speed and scale of cuts in a fragile economy. There are pauses, rethinks and U-turns. Finally, there are unexpected developments that come out of the blue, such as the phone-hacking scandal that enveloped Rupert Murdoch's News International. In the free-for-all ethos of neoliberal times, this sordid affair blew the media's cover, compromised the Cameron leadership and penetrated echelons of the state itself. As Donald Rumsfeld ruefully remarked, "Stuff Happens!" If the Lib-Dem wheeze of delivering cuts in government and campaigning against them at the next election fails to persuade, they face the prospect of an electoral wipe-out. The coalition may fall apart, though at an election the Conservatives might get the majority they failed to muster last time. What happens next is not pregiven.
Hegemony is a tricky concept and provokes muddled thinking. No victories are permanent or final. Hegemony has constantly to be worked on, maintained, renewed, revised. Excluded social forces, whose consent has not been won, whose interests have not been taken into account, form the basis of counter-movements, resistance, alternative strategies and visions … and the struggle over a hegemonic system starts anew. They constitute what Raymond Williams called "the emergent" – and the reason why history is never closed but maintains an open horizon towards the future.
However, in ambition, depth, degree of break with the past, variety of sites being colonized, impact on common sense, shift in the social architecture, neoliberalism does constitute a hegemonic project. Today, popular thinking and the systems of calculation in daily life offer very little friction to the passage of its ideas. Delivery may be more difficult: new and old contradictions still haunt the edifice, in the very process of its reconstruction. Still, in terms of laying foundations and staging the future on favorable ground, the neoliberal project is several stages further on. To traduce a phrase of Marx's: "Well grubbed, old mole." Alas!
• This article was amended on 14 September 2011. The original said "Independent Maintenance Grants are on hold". This has been corrected to Education Maintenance Allowances.
Briar 15 Sep 2011 06:13
Back in 1979, when Thatcher kicked all this off (not that the Callaghan Government hadn't been complicit - the IMF insisted on that) I thought the basic decency of the British voter would be disgusted by the obviously unjust policies being pursued. Sacking hospital and school cleaners so they could be re-employed by a private firm at a much lower wage?
Surely the ordinary voter would be so sickened they would vote against the Tories next time round? After all, they had voted in the Labour government of 1945. But, of course, the ordinary voter could swallow any kind of injustice so long as the promise of lower taxes and more consumerism was maintained. I honestly don't think the clock can turn back now. Our neoliberal coup is entrained in a global one - the real decisions aren't taken here but in the headquarters of international companies which have to connection with their workforces in the various countries where they operate. And the poeple still don't care. In fact contempt for the "underclass" and scorn for the Unions which might lead the fightback have become automatic reflexes, while populist protest centres itself in racist opposition to immigration, a reliable safety valve as far as the right is concerned, since it backs nationalist and repressive policies. Yet nationalism, like localism, is more irrelevant than ever - in a country where the likes of HSBC, G4S and the IMF really call the tune.
Girindor 15 Sep 2011 05:00
Liberalism is just what this country needs after Labour abused the tax paying public for the ends of increasing its political base by massively bloating the public sector and after the years of "government knows best" and "government is always right", which infantilised us and took away our human and civil rights.
Thank you, Labour, for giving the police the right to take innocent citizens and lock them up for 26 days without any charges whatsoever. Just one example. Thank you, Labour, for forcing ID cards onto us. Just another example. Step by step, Labour's main project seems to have been the erosion of democracy and introduction of a police state.
So, frankly, I am greatly relieved that Liberals are in power. Even if I disagree with some of the unfortunate policies that Conservative backbenchers are foisting on us, such as immigration caps which harm the economy and make no moral sense either.
Attrition47 15 Sep 2011 04:28
Fascism is socialism's younger brother; they may not look identical but they are of the same genotype.
No, fascism and socialism as liberalism's bastard children...
Attrition47 15 Sep 2011 04:25
Paradoxically, such opposed political regimes as Thatcherism and New Labour have contributed in different ways to expanding this project. Now the coalition is taking up the same cause.
The history of Britain since the late 60s is the history of a class struggle in which the working class has been sabotaged by the reformist institutions which served it relatively well between 1918 and 1951.
one thing that strikes me is how the followers of this religion deny its very existence.
That's its main propaganda plank: we live in a post-ideological era and what we are doing arises purely out of expediency.
JBowers 14 Sep 2011 05:04
I very much doubt that the Kochs or Murdoch share enthusiasm for the dingbat Tea Party world view.
It's not so much Murdoch but more specifically FOX News and its head honcho, Roger Ailes.
"You know Roger [Ailes] is crazy. He really believes that stuff."
-- Rupert Murdoch
My jury's still out on your point about the Kochs, who I suspect could recite poor old messed up Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged from cover to cover, and David Koch stood as vice-presidential candidate for the Libertarians in 1980. But, libertarians don't really have the same goals as the Tea Party, the latter being a form of authoritarianism, although they sidle up together due to common economic goals. For example, I doubt a libertarian would enforce a woman to take a pregnancy to full term, whereas most of the Teavengelical Taliban would.
Teratornis has links to some insightful reading. But, that said, they have been bankrolling Tea Party events and networks, and did set up astroturf group Americans for Priosperity. Probably using the general public as useful idiots.
SteB1 13 Sep 2011 21:56
Thinking about this problem a bit more has made the problem clearer to me. To address a problem, you first need to properly define the problem. I broadly agree with Stuart Hall's analysis. However, there is another component that needs to be carefully identified. Stuart Hall is right about the neoliberal agenda reinventing itself, and using crises to push through it's society altering agendas.
Nevertheless there is an important qualitative difference between modern neoliberals and their predecessors. Previously neoliberals have to a certain extent been open as to what they were about. Thatcher and others openly espoused this ideology. You won't see Cameron waxing lyrical about this ideology like Thatcher. The modern neoliberal agenda is non-declared. The attempted means to achieve this agenda is a covert wrecking ball approach, which they delusionally believe will produce the real change they want.
Both Cameron's government, and the US Republicans with the Tea Party faction in a controlling position share similarities, which might not at first be obvious. Those pulling the strings and setting the agendas behind the scenes have a quite different outlook to the populist and sentimental themes publically espoused. It is a stealth agenda.
Let's take the US Tea Party situation. On the face of it this is a grassroots organization, all about homely simplistic moralism. It's about big government bad, and a citizen led agenda. The referent it uses is American mythology, which never really existed except in fantasy. It harks back to a mythological hotchpotch of the pilgrim fathers, the founding fathers of the US, the Wild West, and evangelical Christianity. However, the tapestry it has woven with these disparate threads has created a picture which never existed, and it is in reality a modern concoction. The fake nostaligia is merely a facilitator.
The Tea Party faction is not what it superficially seems - it is a 2-headed monster. It has been covertly backed and created by the likes of the Koch Brothers, and abley assisted by the likes of Murdoch's Fox News, which pumps out propaganda to reinforce this delusional dingbat worldview. I very much doubt that the Kochs or Murdoch share enthusiasm for the dingbat Tea Party world view. To the billionaires they just a wrecking ball, a means to an end. The big money backers of the Tea Party want it to smash environmental protection, and all the apparatus of government that get in the way of their money making agendas. I'm certain that these billionairres and their mega corporations would never want what the Tea Party's public supporters want. But then I suspect that the vested interests cynically figure that the Tea Part faction will never last long enough to do anything more than their dirty work.
The billionaires want a seriously weakened and emasculated government, which is easier for them to manipulate, but certainly not what the Tea Party faction want.
Cameron has pursued a different overt strategy, because US culture is very different, although the intended aim is similar The mythology the Tea Party faction is founded upon, does not exist in the UK. So Cameron's emotional populist pitch is to a different audience. Essentially it's a twintrack approach. It's meant to appeal to both the more centrist theme in UK politics, and prejudicial populist themes in British culture. The fact that these threads are quite contrary, doesn't matter, because neither Cameron nor his cronies are really pursuing either theme. It's the same wrecking ball approach to the obstructions of big vested interests. The aim is to destroy the institutional powers and traditions of the welfare state, which interfere with the objectives of the powerful vested interests. It isn't even a neoliberal or monetarist agenda, it is a plutocratic agenda - the neoliberal ideology is just borrowed as a means to an end. This is why it has so much in common with the Tea Party agenda. It's all about unrestrained powerful vested interests controlling everything.
However, whilst it's all very deceitful and apparently "Machiavellian", it's actually incredibly stupid and incompetent. Far from having great vision, this agenda is irrational and delusional. That is because the idiots who seek this wrecked society objective don't understand the dynamics of what will happen, and how different it is to what they envisage. Instead of a divided and conquered people with no coordination as they envisage, it will produce a shitstorm, which will sweep them away. It will create such a mood of public anger when it all goes pear-shaped, that it will create exactly the single purpose and coordinated society they definitely did not want. Unfortunately apart from sweeping these parasites away, it will produce little else that is good. So what I say is not wishful thinking, I think we must must urgentl prevent this societal wrecking.
Sturton 13 Sep 2011 20:11
The accelerating attack on the welfare state is already biting. My Down's Syndrome brother is looked after by my elderly mother and myself (I travel to spend one day a week with them), saving the state a small fortune. He could easily be put in care but we've never wanted that.
That hasn't stopped a new County Council means test with the result that £30 a week must now be found out of their benefits for him to continue attending a day centre occasionally. Wealthier families have been asked for up to £200 a week.
So I'm angry. Trouble is, your feature is almost as annoying as the Pickles et al of this world you are targeting.
What is the point of writing something castigating right wing dogma, when you are so clearly contaminated by its mirror image? You do realise, don't you, that this gives great succour to the froth-mouthed Daily Mail readers of this world, and helps to justify their myopia?
Just one example: You claim eagerness to volunteer predominantly for the left in point five, then follow it with the stupefying comment that "don't we all". So which is it, half the population, or all of it?
I was under the impression that a lot of bowling'n'Rotary Club types, many of whom have to be Tory voters, are up for voluntary work. Try giving a bit of credit to the other side, rather than tying yourself up in contradictory knots trying not to. That's what the Palins of this world do, it's corrosive to mature political debate, and both they and you drag us down into the cesspit of dogma-laden argument when you do it.
The article's many sound contentions - I really appreciated the paragraph outlining the various means of privatising by stealth - are undermined not only by this undercurrent of diehard dogma, but by its descent into Sixth Form debating-calibre comment on occasion.
For example, we have talk of an "irreversible" social revolution and the "irreversible transformation of society" in the first half of the piece. Then the statement towards the end that no victories are final or permanent. And preceding that, by this gem: "What happens next is not pregiven". Aristotelian or what.
The coup de grace is the clumsily-written revelation that "history is never closed but maintains an open horizon into the future". Really? That would explain tomorrow, then.
No wonder we get the contention that hegemony provokes muddled thinking. It certainly has in this piece.
And then there's the bizarre assertion that parents regard history as boring and haven't read a serious novel since GCSEs. I'm not a parent but really, did you just have a word count to fill?
I showed the feature to my gay neighbours downstairs. Lovely blokes, if you ignore the fact that they are diehard Thatcherites (yep, I know...).
They loved it, because it inadvertently serves to mirror their simplistic, un-nuanced world view. My favourite sport when with them is listing the odd Tory politican I have liked over the years. They can't stand hearing this from a liberal, because they can't bring themselves to return the favour. I note that many of my fervent Left wing friends can't find a compliment about anything from the Tory party either.
For a brilliant, proper grown-up article about the damage the Right can do, albeit from an American perspective, see this from a disillusioned Republican:
Now that's proper political analysis, and as such it's not scared to critique diehards at either end of the political spectrum.
Hall's confused polemic pales into insignificance alongside it.
VeronikaLarsson 13 Sep 2011 19:31
For a definition of fascism, let's go to the expert, Mussolini:
Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power. Benito Mussolini
How is neoliberalism different from this? No significant differences. Neoliberalism is fascism. Just because they don't have Brownshirts or funny costumes or mass rallies doesn't mean they're not fascists.
ScottSmith 13 Sep 2011 18:54
Keep shopping folks!, health care, yes we can make that work like a shop. Don't be selfish and save, spend now, take a loan, you worked hard for it. Sorry, did you say you lost your job?. Ah, we have a problem with that you see, we'd like our money back now, problem is, we didn't take into account our friends at the bank would want such a big bonus, and we're all going on a nice holiday in Tuscany at the end of the month, so do hurry up with the repayments. Ok, still haven't paid back your money we lent the banks, thats fine, although, we're pleased to announce we're cutting your benefits and repossessing your home, after all, those of us that still have work, don't want to pay for your apathy. I mean, when are you people going to learn to look after yourselves, instead of burdening the state, tax money after all, will be needed to put a down payment on my second home. No, nepotism never did me any favours, my great, great, great grandfather was poor, of course I can relate. You see we're not all equal, some of us are born with a silver spoon in our mouths ,elected to represent, the underclass, the criminal class, of our classless society.
Theres nothing to intellectualise here...the kids said it best by robbing plasma screens whilst we coward in the corner, "I don't care, I'll take what I want". Such a shame, but, "Englands dancing days are done".
sarkany 13 Sep 2011 17:39
The great paradox about neo-liberalism is that it is not in fact, liberal at all.
It can only survive under the heel of a jackboot - the rich are only able to amass the vast wealth that they do now because they live under the protection of the state; which in countries like the USA and Britain are controlled by this corporate clique.
As most people have noticed in recent years, the emphasis on policing has gone from general order in the community to the protection of the ruling class and corporate property.
In fact, what has effectively happened under the neo-liberal regimes, from Thatcher through to Blair and Cameron, is that the people have been forced to pay more and more of their income to the state, local councils and PFI fund managers for less and less in return.
Where has the money gone ?
It has been spent on yachts, diamonds, chateaux in France and finishing schools in Switzerland.
Billions have 'disappeared' to private contractors and capital-intensive [not many workers] arms firms employed in the spurious War on Terror - in reality, a war of terror, a fear-inducing illusion conjured up by the very politicians who seamlessly glided into the very corporations and companies they had awarded consulting contracts to when in power.
Other money drains out from our pockets every day when we use the public services such as the trains - paid for many times over with subsidies from the public coffers, but still maximising profits by screwing their weary customers every day they drag into work on delayed and overcrowded cattle wagons.
And then there is the whole invisible army of drones who earn a living from pursuing us over the ever-increasing laws we might be breaking; fine collectors, private security companies, debt-collectors, bailiffs, privatised prisons . . .
And that's not mentioning the thousands of people paid to watch us on cameras, in stations, streets and parks; trawl our emails, tap our phones [another paradox rarely mentioned in connection with the Murdoch case] and search us at airports and train stations.
In fact, as was demonstrated on the real, original September 11th - when the US sponsored and supported the first neo-liberal coup in a democratic country [Chile in 1973]; its true nature was soon revealed.
If you want to read the extent to which the USA undermined a democracy, and replaced it with a military dictatorship which pioneered the original Chicago School of neo-liberalism;
In 1970, Salvadore Allende became the first Marxist to be democratically elected president in the Western hemisphere. In the course of his sweeping socialist reforms, he nationalized not only the copper mines but banks and other foreign-owned assets as well. Along with the redistribution of land under land reform, these actions deeply antagonized Chile's business community and right wing. It is now a matter of historical record that the CIA helped organize their opposition to Allende. A massive campaign of strikes, social unrest and other political subversion followed. In September 1973, the CIA helped General Pinochet launch a military coup in which Allende was killed. The Pinochet government claimed he committed suicide; his supporters claimed he was murdered.
The new government immediately began privatizing the businesses that Allende had seized, as well as reversing his other socialist reforms. But Pinochet did not have an economic plan of his own, and by 1975 inflation would run as high as 341 percent. Into this crisis stepped a group of economists known as "the Chicago boys."
The Chicago boys were a group of 30 Chileans who had studied economics at the University of Chicago between 1955 and 1963. During the course of their postgraduate studies they had become disciples of Milton Friedman, and had returned to Chile completely indoctrinated in free market theory. By the end of 1974, they had risen to positions of power in the Pinochet regime, controlling most of its offices for economic planning.
Their model has been imposed ever since, across the globe, by force and deception - let's not forget that Obama took with him into the White House neither his radical friends from his time working the community, but economists from his home town, Chicago, to finish the work that was started with the murder of Allende;
In the first months after the coup d’état, the military killed thousands of Chilean Leftists, both real and suspected, or forced their "disappearance". The military imprisoned 40,000 political enemies in the National Stadium of Chile; among the tortured and killed desaparecidos (disappeared) were ... the Chilean song-writer Víctor Jara, and 70 other political killings were perpetrated by the Caravan of Death.
So that's where we're heading, folks . . .
keggsie 13 Sep 2011 17:23
I'm with you boycotthesun. We need a revolution. In fact I'm calling for it now.
And to think a war was fought to defeat fascism. How little we have learned.
boycotthesun 13 Sep 2011 16:39
Don't agree - it will be far worse yet completely different - there will be only that what you can pay for, that includes Health, Police, Law, Justice, food, water, parliamentary representation, the right not to beaten up by people selling protection, oh, I already said that didn't I - Police...well, I mean the New Police controlled by your Politicly appointed Police Chief - unless you can pay the politician enough to appoint someone less worse...you get t he point:
everything is up for grabs when you start to ignore concepts such as Social Fairness and morality and besides, how on earth can a Politician really believe they are accountable to underachieving failures...we need "Big Daddy" to run his Big Society Of Micro Transactions Because We Are Non Competitors.
That is one point that has not really been discussed...If the Market is supreme arbiter of what is desirable, then we become, in Cameron's Neo Liberal Nu Britain , servents of the Market and we are accountable to that market - the State, as we understand it, must dissapear to be replaced by an enforcement apparatus to ensure market stability and compliance with the expectation of servility to the Market that is essential for NeoLiberalism to work.
This IS a matter of choice and I choose to reject, in it's entirity , the False Idol worshipped by NeoLibs - which means I reject the legitimacy of this administration as it has no mandate to change the basis by which we exist as human beings.
Yep, I declare civil war...at the moment I may be outnumbered by 60,000,000 to 1
but it could be worse...Clegg might join me...now that would be bad,
buildabridge 13 Sep 2011 16:28
If democracy changed anything it would have been banned a long timed ago. A friend told me that, no idea who initially quoted it but I believe it.
The only reason Western Europe got its welfare state, and so some equality of wealth was due to the threat of communism through revolution confiscating ALL property and even the concept of property. That was enough to scare the wealthy to share some of their wealth. It was a survival move to make sure they did not go the way the Russian aristocracy went
Now that communism is dead and totally discredited due to inept paranoid despotic leadership, the neoliberals can take it all back and put normal people back to where they always were;to work to and survive or do nothing.
boycotthesun 13 Sep 2011 16:00
Honesty is something I look for first in people - without it you have nothing but a dilemma on legs.
NeolLiberalism is more that a Cancer, it is a pseudo philosophy which demotes humanity to nothing more that a concurrent series of transactions which, by right, must be done in accordance with whatever the Market dictates.
I recently suggested that Cameron would suggest the "poor" could ease their plight by selling their blood and Kidneys - as in the States, I was given this reply by someone who works for a NeolLib Minister:
Selling Blood and Kidneys: Autonomous assets to be used as collateral in negotiating with an investor.
Accurate?: yes, Right?: NO
The same criteria can be applied to selling babies and children - or even parts of them......morality, ethics and fairness, along with Justice - do not generate a profit unless there is a market of buyers for these "commodities" and who will be able to afford to pay for what were once fundamental elements of Society?
That is what Thatcher meant by "there is no such thing as Society" she was alluding to the overarching priority of a Free Market where we trade for the basics of life- and do without if we cannot compete.
NeoLiberalism and those who think it should be imposed for "our own good" should be quarantined on a sinking island with patrolling sharks for that is what they want for the a sizeable number of us.
theEclectic 13 Sep 2011 15:45
Neoliberalism is grounded in the "free, possessive individual"...,
These are a bunch of dreamers who contemplate life that only the earliest humans in Africa could have enjoyed. Individualism died with the caveman; and although it might still appeal to some fellow dreamers, it is not tenable in modern society. Anyway, there is no harm in pretending that we are free individuals – even though it is only a myth.
erealArtVandelay 13 Sep 2011 15:44
I don't think you can equate fascism and neo-liberlism: fascism implies more state control and use of the capitalist system for its ends, where as the current neo-liberal model we are witnessing sees the state as a virtual puppet of the capitalist system.
Nayrbite 13 Sep 2011 15:31
I admire your honesty.
Most aren't against wealth as such except when that wealth is gained at the expense of others which, unfortunately and historically, is more often the case than not. How many ennobled families are wealthy because of the Slave trade?
For me, the most appalling thing about NeoLiberalism is that it is totally without compassion, an ideology Satan himself would be proud of.
Tonight I watched a programme about the poverty stricken slums in London and Bristol which existed only 3 generations ago and only relieved by the slum clearances.
I suggest NeoLiberals would not have lifted a finger - the "markets," after all are always happy with cheap sources of labour whatever the conditions of its labour force. The neoliberals must be champing at the bit at the prospect - fast approaching - for those halcyon days.
frontalcortexes 13 Sep 2011 15:30
Neo-Liberalism was always flawed. Without the state it is a recipe for cat-burglary as the Subprime Mortgage Bond Fraud has very tellingly revealed.
boycotthesun 13 Sep 2011 14:51
You wouldn't be trying to divert us by any chance, from the article about how you Zombies are willing to destroy everything that makes living worthwhile - no, you wouldn't do that would you, you want people to be regarded with respect don't you, you would never agree that it is morally right and desirable for a minority to manipulate the majority in order to feed off of them - would you...course you would, you actually think there will be room for you at the top, Ha Ha Ha Ha.
See you in Hell, mate, that's where we are all going 'cos you and me are not important - even if you think YOU are.
GizmoGizmo 13 Sep 2011 14:33
The welfare state, in particular, is the arch enemy of freedom. The state must never govern society, dictate to free individuals how to dispose of their private property, regulate a free-market economy or interfere with the God-given right to make profits and amass personal wealth. State-led "social engineering" must never prevail over corporate and private interests. It must not intervene in the "natural" mechanisms of the free market, or take as its objective the amelioration of free-market capitalism's propensity to create inequality.
Summarises just about every right-wing posting on these boards, and the narrow version of 'freedom' they espouse. It can be boiled down to the following Orwellian maxim. "The market is totally free. Oh, but some are freer than others: if you don't possess vast wealth, you must sell your body to the accumulators or starve."
Hasn't stopped the usual tripe along precisely these lines BTL, though.
no2dogma 13 Sep 2011 14:33
"The legislative avalanche began immediately and has not let up" Really, compared to what - not the 4300 new laws passed by the Labour government between 1997 and 2010?
boycotthesun 13 Sep 2011 14:33
Excellent post - you made the essential points clearly but what do we do now, just accept "their" version of utopia and in effect become servants of The Market State or fight back?
There is no question that a united populace would defeat ANY government in a stand up fight, the clever bit is to ensure there is no unity in the first place and thereby avoid direct or large scale conflict - as in Nazi Germany, the Warsaw Pact and it seems to me, the USA that Cameron admires so much.
(not the Culture, but the power the neoCons/Libs have over the people)
Our "Quislings" are already in place and when people are preoccupied by trying to climb over each other in order to get more coin, you will have Goethe's Free Market Slaves who think they are Free.
I can't live like that, I won't live like that and I will fight any Bastard that says I must.
ITS1789 13 Sep 2011 14:15
I'm not from the left, and I personally do really, really well out of the capitalist system, and enjoy a life of relative luxury, but then I can afford to give half my annual income away to charity and still live very well. I like capitalism, it's been very good to me, and my family for over two centuries, but the ghastly version that's swept the world over the last thirty years is something else.
I think neoliberalism is something close to a malignant cancer growing inside a healthy capitalism, and with equally disasterous consequences. So my criticism comes not from the left, but from the right, for what that's worth.
Neoliberalism is a kind of psuedo-religion, a dogma, which is passionately believed by its diciples, despite the evidence showing that it simply doesn't work in the real world, but like most religious fanatics, the real world doesn't matter much to them. Which is another reason they remind me of Stalinists in the old Soviet system.
The historic irony, that it's not the socialists, but the neoliberals and revolutionaries like Thatcher who have brought capitalism to its knees; is, difficult for many people to accept. It seems like a contradiction. That those who trumpet their loyalty and suppport for "unfettered" capitalism should by their collosal ignorance and stupidity, their crass oversimplifications, confusion, and lack of understanding, lead to the destruction of the very system they worship, well, perhaps irony isn't the right word, maybe tragic and grotesque is more accurate?
I think neoliberalism is a kind of dangerous and counter-productive heresy that risks destroying captialism and plunging the western world into a permanent depression which will wipe out the middle class and threaten the corporate, capitalsit state, itself.
boycotthesun 13 Sep 2011 14:11
The article succinctly lays out the agenda and means: The Tory media will repeat the mantra and right wing nutters will swallow it whole - thinking that a new dawn awaits us all.
More like Zulu Dawn unless there is mass opposition - which there won't be if Cameron and the right wing Zombies on this site succeed in conning the majority that Xmas is good for turkeys.
Representative Democracy is already undermined by the duplicity and amoral
conduct of many of our representatives.
Cameron will eventually suck up to the Police and seek to politicise the Armed Forces in order to prevent effective opposition.
Elected Police Chiefs are the first step in suborning a previously neutral and objective Police Service into a force that protects the state and not the individual.
I believe that this Government is on a crusade that they will not allow to falter and that they will do everything in their power to keep power - and if that means lying deceiving "the People" or trying to extend their term by declaring a state of emergency - they will.
Just in case the Zombies havn't worked it out yet - re- read the article and decide if you will be happy to be regarded solely as a servent of a free market where there is no such "commodity" as compassion, fairness or justice.
If that is what you want then you and I will be true enemies.
This Government is fighting an undeclared war that may turn into a real one.
ITS1789 13 Sep 2011 13:54
For me neoliberalism is a primative and dangerous delusion about society, economics, and human nature, comparable to extreme forms of socialism, which are equally hairbrained and destructive, and arguably just as bloody.
Thatcherism was classic, class-warfare politics, but launched from the extreme right instead of the left, and it was wildly successful, at least for those it benefitted, a narrow strata at the top of society. Now that the entire charade is collapsing, and taking the welfare state, the middle class, and probably capitalism itself, with it, it's time to pay the bill for this long, illusory, party.
Capitalism has, seen in narrow perspective, changed the world for the better, trashing feudalism for example, but like so much in life, it should have been kept in the market place where it belonged. Allowing capitalism to expand until it consumed virtually all of society was a tremendous mistake on many different levels, and now we are paying the price for allowing this to happen.
EconomicDeterminist 13 Sep 2011 13:48
When we neo-liberals have our backs to the wall we turn around and come out fighting
Stuart! These guys are already in reverse!
JBowers 13 Sep 2011 13:40
What was it that caused the banking crisis?
Ayn Rand's lapdog, Alan Greenspan, and his zealous neoliberal drive to deregulate the markets, especially the banks. It started when he was the top money dog for Reagan. Then, when everyone was telling him in 2008 that deregulation was causing serious problem and there was disaster looming, his only response was to push for more deregulation. When the head of the IMF later met with the bankstas to find out what the hell had just happened they all told him, to his face, that deregulation had let them go too wild.
boycotthesun 13 Sep 2011 13:35
A dose of Reality
If you piss on people for long enough, they will eventualy lose patience and do something extremely violent.
AlexanderKing 13 Sep 2011 13:17
It is noble viewpoint that we share, but it is not reality, human nature, particularly in poverty, is acquisitive by its very nature, it will not correspond to your noble view-point, and they would rob you if they could.
AlexanderKing 13 Sep 2011 13:15
It should not be legal for someone to eat trays and trays of Sausage rolls, be a delinquent at school, and then at the age of 23 manage to secure life long payment for their life of sloth because they managed to get disability because they cannot get out of the house. Those who receive such payment must perform some civic duty in order to gain this payment.
It is not 1890, the deserving poor are a bunch of thieves and aspire to be the top neighbours from hell in their area.
the unbalanced evolution of homo sapiens
It is more than obvious that using the latest big crisis, the economic elites in Europe and globally, are planning to impose all the catastrophic neoliberal measures tested in Greece by Troika. Dijsselbloem signaled recently the start of this plan. (http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2014/10/plutocrats-tighten-siege-around-europe.html)
As Social-democrats in nearly every European country have been "absorbed" by the neoliberal perception carried mainly by the neoliberal European Right, there is a big political gap to be filled by political forces who could fight against plutocracy and defend majority's rights. In Greece, which was chosen to be the field of the new conditions, the Left, naturally, became a significant power, taking the first position in recent Euro-elections through the radical-Left party, SYRIZA.
Costas Lapavitsas, professor in economics at the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies, described it very well in an interesting discussion with the audience at the Real News network:
"... to me, the most important change and transformation over the last two decades, as financialization went into overdrive, is the collapse of all social democracy, the social democrats. [...] obviously, in Europe and elsewhere, it has collapsed.
And the reason it's collapsed is because it basically accepted, lock, stock, and barrel, the arguments of neoliberalism, the idea of the market, the idea of financial growth, of financial expansion. It really believed in it. And the ones who argue most forcefully still for that are actually social democrats. It's incredible. And, therefore, their influence, certainly in Europe, it's just a vanishing. The social democratic party in Greece has disappeared. The social democratic party in Spain is disappearing nearly as fast. Social democrats in Portugal are nowhere to be seen. In country after country--in Germany, the social democracy is hobbled because of that, because they've accepted these--they've got nothing to propose which would be the equivalent of what they used to propose back in the '50s and the '60s and the '70s, which was some kind of regulated capitalism within those confines mentioned before, some kind of--you know, let's manage it.
The scope for that has become much less. In this context, there is room for the left, as in the non social democratic left. The tragedy there is that the left in Europe and elsewhere has been incredibly weak because of the events of the last two to three decades--the collapse of the Soviet Union, the massive defeats of the '80s in terms of class struggle and so on. And the left hasn't been able to take up the mantle. Not yet. There is life. It's not a corpse yet. There is life.
Things are happening, particularly because of the crisis. It took time for the left to comprehend what happened in the crisis, and they're beginning to respond. Who will fill the space left by the collapse of social democracy, by the ideological bankruptcy of social democracy, is a most interesting question for politics today. Who will fill that space? How will it be filled? It remains to be seen." (http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12593)
Currently, people appear to be confused, in Europe, in the US and elsewhere, about the ways they could mobilize to fight for their rights which are systematically abolished. During the conversation, someone asked a question that shows this fact in the most characteristic way: "So what is this kind of mobilization of the people, the labor markets, the small businesses, medium businesses? What does that process look like to change the big business, to change the banking institutions, and even the household dynamics?"(http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=12562)
In Europe, the first signs of such a mobilization come from Spain with the Left-wing party Podemos. Latest polls showed that Podemos has a bigger electoral preference than the two major parties in Spain, only eight months after it was created. According to the poll, Podemos has 27 percent electoral support in Spain, the former governing party PSOE (Spain Socialist Workers Party) has 25.5 percent, while the currently governing conservative PP (Popular Party), which has recently being involved in a corruption scandal, has only 20 percent. (http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/New-Left-Wing-Party-Podemos-Over-takes-Major-Parties-in-Spain-20141102-0002.html)
As mentioned in a previous article: "Today's conditions are such that, the Left in Greece could not be able to change the course of the class-war in favor of the majority by itself. It could trigger, however, a general rise of the Left in Europe which could block, for a start, Europe's catastrophic course towards the new, brutal Feudalism." (http://failedevolution.blogspot.gr/2014/09/a-new-attempt-to-domesticate-left-in.html) It seems that this "triggering" has started (there is also some mobilization in Croatia with the creation of a Leftist party inspired by SYRIZA in Greece).
For the first time in Greece a Leftist party wins an election, but the message from Spain is even more promising because Podemos was not created by small groups behind closed doors, but from people protesting out in the streets.
The next big test for the Leftist parties would be to synchronize their efforts and create a solid European front capable to fight against the neoliberal catastrophe. SYRIZA leader, Alexis Tsipras, was called to speak today at the founding conference of Podemos in Madrid.
It seems that there are signs of resistance in Europe. Societies are politically mobilized to face the new challenges. What is left to see, is whether this would be enough for Europe to change its course, and bring back the lost values that have been sacrificed on the altar of the illusive economic indexes. A Europe that will work for the benefit of the real democracy and majority, not for the benefit of the bankers and lobbyists.
The USG sees its constituency as an international elite – whether British, Polish or Saudi–the people, as a population are, increasingly an afterthought.
Nov 14, 2014 | naked capitalism
... ... ...
HUDSON: Every economy needs oil to some extent. China has to use oil for many things that gas simply won’t work for. Every country’s GDP goes up in keeping with its energy consumption. You could say the rise in productivity for the last hundred years, throughout the Industrial Revolution, has been an increase in energy use per worker or per unit of output. So it’s energy that’s pushing growth. And of course China needs oil. In fact, one of its problems is that when people are getting richer, they want to have cars, and they use gasoline. So of course China’s going to be dependent on oil from Russia.
Mr. Putin said that as a result of these deals, Russian trade with China and the rest of Asia is going to increase from 25 percent to 40 percent of Russia’s GDP. This leaves Europe out in the cold. What’s been clear at the meeting is that there’s a coming together between China and Russia. This has been the opposite of what American foreign policy has been trying to push for since the 1980s. What is ironic is that where the United States thought that it was putting pressure on Russia and sanctions following the NATO adventure in Ukraine, what it’s actually done is bring Russia and China closer together.
The most important way in which they’re coming together is reflected in Mr. Putin’s announcement that Russia is setting up its own bank clearing house system independent of the so-called SWIFT system. When you transfer funds from one bank to another, or when any bank uses U.S. dollars, it has to go through the SWIFT clearing house system in the United States.
Right now the only country that’s not part of this is Iran. To Russia, this has tipped America’s hand. It showed that what U.S. Cold Warriors really want is to break up Russia and China, and to interrupt their financial and banking services to disorient their economies. So Russia, China and Iran – and presumably other Asian countries – are now moving to establish their own currency clearing systems. To be independent of the SWIFT system and the U.S. dollar, Russia and China are denominating their trade and investments in rubles and yuan instead of the dollar. So what you’ve seen in the last few days in Beijing is a rejection of the dollar standard, and a rejection of American foreign policy behind it.
... ... ...
As for the sanctions isolating Russia economically, this is just what it needs to protect its industrial revival and economic independence. In conjunction with China, it’s integrating the Russian economy with that of China, Kazakhstan and Iran. Russia is now going to be building at least two atomic reactors in Iran. The center of global investment is shifting to Asia, leaving the United States out as well as Europe.
So you can expect at the G20 Brisbane meetings next week to increase pressure from Europe to break away from the U.S. sanctions.
All the United States has diplomatically at the present time is military pressure, while Russia and China have economic growth – markets and investment opportunities opening up. Despite the fact that there was an agreement on high-technology trade between the United States and China, the U.S. is basically being left out. This seems to be why Mr. Obama was looking so out of sorts at the meetings. He knows that the strategy that he was given by his neocons is backfiring.
... ... ...
James, November 14, 2014 at 10:49 am
In the following decade, we won the cold war.
We know one side gave up the fight for sure, and has since rebounded rather nicely. Whether or not we can say the other side actually “won” remains yet to be seen, since it’s still fighting against countless “enemies,” some possibly real, but most purely imaginary.
Vatch, November 14, 2014 at 11:46 am
Russia has rebounded thanks to petroleum and natural gas. That doesn’t alter the fact that it is a kleptocracy with severe problems of inequality. Putin is popular because he is standing up to the “foreign devils”.
Of course, much of this is also true about the United States, but not the part about the leader being popular.
James, November 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm
Putin is popular because he is standing up to the “foreign devils”.
Well, I guess you could say that the US MIC is providing Putin with valuable marketing services then. I must say, they’re certainly worth every dollar, err… ruble he’s paying them.
Vatch, November 14, 2014 at 3:01 pm
Mutual hostility usually benefits the elites of both nations. It is far less likely to benefit the typical citizens of the nations that are hostile to each other. On the contrary, it’s likely to worsen the lives of people in both nations.
James, November 14, 2014 at 6:00 pm
I must say that as the initial coup unfolded after the Olympics I was wary of some sort of “joint disinformation” campaign on the part of both the US and Russia playing to some sort of higher regional goal. But events in the interim have led me to conclude otherwise. This one’s an entirely US instigated fiasco.
Vatch, November 14, 2014 at 6:59 pm
Coup? What coup? Are you referring to the mess in Ukraine?
myshkin, November 14, 2014 at 12:56 pm
Though the Soviet empire toppled first, the US empire has disastrously hollowed out its putative republic. The Cold War was a continuity of the dark inertia of the armaments based recovery of WWII, weaponry being the only public spending TPTB will ever countenance. I’ve argued with various older friends who had passed through the depression and WWII, who were convinced that the nuclear standoff and arms race of the Cold War was a great success, having forestalled nuclear annihilation.
My point, that only a logic invented by Dr. Strangelove could view the march to the precipice of world war, armed with doomsday weapons, bought with national treasure, drained from the welfare of the people, as a success. It also countenanced or ignored the millions who did die, casualties of the Cold War that infected and inflamed corners of the world with proxy wars and anti democratic coups while baking the worst ingredients of a militarized, deep security state into the US sociocultural cake. It was evident to me but an unimaginable leap of faith to them.
flora, November 14, 2014 at 11:45 am
I think for at least the last 20 years Washington DC and Wall St have lived in a bubble that prevents them from seeing the real economy or effectively engaging in realpolitik. It gives me no happiness to write this.
Thanks for this article.
susan the other, November 14, 2014 at 11:53 am
It is all interesting, amusing and frightening. And shameful if you once loved your country and the things it stood for. We have dealt ourselves a fatal blow by using the EU to sanction Russia. That’s gotta be the dumbest thing we ever did. We managed, in our arrogance, to isolate ourselves and our asinine cowboy neoliberalism, almost as if we built the great wall of America around our shores.
Xi is a fox. So is Putin. The difference being that Putin once took a chance on trusting us. The worsening debacle in the EU is because we are imposing strict neoliberalism on them and are demanding they dismantle all forms of a mixed economy, while Xi, in Asia where anything of importance is now happening, calmly states the Chinese position that SOEs are OK if they are beneficial to the health of nations.
susan the other, November 15, 2014 at 12:15 pm
Putin started off with Little George opening up oil development to US majors and they were both interested in making it go. Putin came to the White House and gave a little speech referencing this partnership. Etc. Some analysis (forget where, maybe foreign affairs) claimed Putin himself was a Russian Atlanticist – meaning his faction was leaning toward business relationships with the US and the EU.
Then everything fell apart. It is hard to tell just how cooperative RU and we are these days. But yesterday at the G20 everybody ganged up on Putin and accused Russia of being the aggressor in Ukraine and Putin said he had more urgent business to take care of in Moscow and left.
Putin himself has spoken clearly on the US and NATO being the aggressor and wanting to create crises to maintain power. So unless it is all theater, Putin did give it a try and became the goat. And now he has gone home.
Banger, November 14, 2014 at 12:26 pm
The issue is not the U.S. vs. China and Russia. China and Russia are centrally governed nation-states with, at least for China, imperial ambitions – but these ambitions are of limited Empire not like the American dreams of Empire which is to control the entire globe not just politically but culturally.
That ambition though is largely fantasy at least in political terms. The U.S. is not any longer what I would call a nation state with particular “interests.” Israel, for example, is more supported in the U.S. than, say, Ohio or some segment of the U.S.
The USG sees its constituency as an international elite – whether British, Polish or Saudi–the people, as a population are, increasingly an afterthought. Washington is an international capital (as is NYC) that focuses on the multi-national corporation.
Russia and China, while not immune to such pressures, does recognize the importance of the population or power-factions that are native to it.
By forcing Russia, Iran and other states to the periphery they are moving them into a Chinese orbit. Now, how China chooses to react is something should make an interesting discussion.
James Levy, November 14, 2014 at 1:04 pm
I’ve argued to my students that the reason America is so dangerous is that Americans are the most ideological people on Earth without any understanding that they are ideological. Most Americans (certainly the foreign policy decision-makers) see doing anything dissimilar to the way “we” want it done as perverse (France), stupid (Venezuela), or malign (Iran).
The old Burkean notion that nations are what they are because of their history and traditions is unthinkable in Washington or on Wall Street.
America is the model and its up to every other country to conform – or else. Between Wilson and Truman a carapace formed over US thinking about itself and the world that has become impenetrable. It will only be burst when America is too broke or ecologically devastated to continue trying to re-form the world in its image. That’s why I fear that a whole cadre of nuts would rather the world go down in flames than that the “last, best hope of humanity” not get to “tutor” the nations into doing thing
Banger, November 14, 2014 at 5:42 pm
Technically you are right–the USA is the last great remnant of the great ideologies of the 20th century and the ideology of American Exceptionalism is related to fascism and communism in the sense it is deeply nationalistic and also global — America wants everyone to become American. But I think this is largely over.
Leaders today only half-believe in these notions and the body politic is increasingly cynical and too self-centered to care much about “destiny” and the grand sweep of history that people like Henry Luce or Walter Lippmann articulated back in the day both on the left and the right.
Government is increasingly staffed by self-serving careerists and yuppies who long ago sold their souls. The ideologues are now mainly are inarticulate and no more than the equivalent of soccer hooligans.
Michael, November 14, 2014 at 6:59 pm
Neo-cons…. I assume that is who you meant.
Not much more too add. The people with real power do not show their faces. They write memos and let buffoons try to articulate them to the public. The public will buy into the ideology because they’ve spent their lives learning facts with out learning the importance of those facts.
Also most people are too busy trying to survive to learn enough to understand the games that the elites are playing. Hell, even the elites don’t understand the system they have built. All energy is basically used to maintain the system which will eventually collapse in on itself…
I just hope I am self sufficient at this point….give me 5 more years and I should be set…homesteading is in my future.
madisolation, November 15, 2014 at 8:30 am
I just read Pepe Escobar’s take on the APEC summit. There’s a lot to absorb, but here is an excerpt:
Washington/Wall Street elites – talk about Cold War hubris – always took for granted that Beijing and Moscow would be totally apart. Now puzzlement prevails. Note how the Obama administration’s “pivoting to Asia” has been completely erased from the narrative – after Beijing identified it for what it is: a warlike provocation. The new meme is “rebalance”.
German businesses, for their part, are absolutely going bonkers with Xi’s New Silk Roads uniting Beijing to Berlin – crucially via Moscow. German politicians sooner rather than later will have to get the message.
flora, November 15, 2014 at 11:03 am
“Washington/Wall Street elites… always took for granted that …”
Perfect description of the neo-con and neo-liberal ideological bubbles. Elite thinking is so captured by their ideologies that they can’t clearly see facts on the ground, can’t effectively respond to the facts, and can’t accept their realpolitik failures as the consequence of their ideological capture. The ‘shrewd yankee’ has been replaced by the ‘true believer’.
Interesting that Al From and the New Democrats have been described as idealists. No doubt they are.
Steven, November 15, 2014 at 11:29 am
Dr. Hudson has long had the right take on all this. But he doesn’t seem to be able to take the last step in simplifying his analyses and prescriptions. Elites in the West and in particular the United States have no clue about the real sources of wealth and power in the modern world. Those elites, having long ago converted their wealth (the natural resources, skilled labor and, above all, the inanimate energy required to power the machinery and computers that do much of the world’s real work) into money, now ‘keep score’ only by how much more money they can add to their bank accounts.
For those elites – and especially for the financiers and bankers to whom they have entrusted the wealth extracted from the labor of preceding generations and the spoils of pillaged continents – money is all there is. This is the core of ‘American exceptionalism’. Anyone who doubts the omnipotence of money doubts the divine order of things. Educating, feeding and caring for the West’s “labouring cattle” has long been viewed not as ‘investment’, a source of wealth, but an impediment on the more rapid accumulation of money. The only thing 50% of ‘the people’ are good for, in the words of Jay Gould, is slaughtering the other 50%.
The bottom line here is that real wealth and prosperity for the population at large represents a mortal threat for people whose power and social status is dependent only on money. A really wealthy population doesn’t need money. For the monetarily affluent, the only possible use for advances in science and technology is the destruction of those who refuse to worship the golden calf. For the last century Western nations have removed the threat of general prosperity to their ruling classes through wars with each other and beyond their nations’ borders.
Devastated by global war, much of the world managed to free itself from this self-destructive propensity by exporting the responsibility to defend their money-based ruling classes and the sanctity of money as embodied in the world’s US dollar-based reserve currency to the United States. Thus we have arrived at the current division of labor in the world economy with the once ‘developing nations’ exporting the things people really need to live and the US and other Western nations exporting debt and death. This is the real mission of the military-industrial complex – absorbing advances in science and technology in ever more deadly weapons systems and ever mounting national debt. It can only end badly.
Events since 2008 have proved the world doesn’t need the West’s money. If the West’s central banks can create tens of trillions of dollars, euros, yen, etc out of thin air to prevent the insolvency of its ruling elites, it can create the money it needs to pay for the real wealth required for a sustainable future.
Steven, November 15, 2014 at 11:49 am
The “last step” is dropping the ‘growth’ prescription. My suspicion is that a world economy purged of its waste, economic sabotage and above its weapons would be more than adequate at its current size for a long time to come.
October 07, 2014 | potlatch.typepad.com
As part of the slow-burning promotion of my book, a couple of discussions have been published in recent weeks, exploring the book's arguments.
Firstly, New Left Project published a two-part interview I did with Tom Mills, one of their editors. These can be read here [pt 1] and here [pt 2].
Secondly, Renewal organised a symposium of critical reviews of the book, with a response from me. I was really delighted with the quality of these commentaries from Bob Jessop, Stephanie Mudge and Jonathan Derbyshire. You can download the pdf of this symposium here.
... ... ...
Neoliberalism in action
The crisis of Keynesian macroeconomics (occasioned by the rise of ‘stagflation’ in the early 1970s) and of Fordist production (symptomized by declining productivity growth and profitability) created an opportunity for a new paradigm of economic policy-making. This was initially exploited in the United States and United Kingdom, before policies were exported internationally via multilateral institutions and economic experts. Prior to this breakthrough, the Chicago School had already shaped the policy regime of Pinochet in Chile, thanks to the training of Chilean economists in Chicago and the advice provided by Friedman to the government.
Marxist analyses of applied neoliberalism view it as the mobilization of the state, so as to restore the rate of profit. To this end, the neoliberal state targets inflation through deflationary, monetarist policies, and targets trade union power through legislation, police power and privatization. The effect of this is far greater returns to capital, and lower returns to labour, resulting in dramatic increases in inequality from the 1980s onwards. With declining investment opportunities following the crisis of Fordist-Keynesianism, the neoliberal state discovers non-productive paths to private profit, in households, the public sector and financial sector.
Analyses that are more influenced by post-structuralism, by Foucault in particular, look at neoliberalism more as an attempt to remake social and personal life in its entirety, around an ideal of enterprise and performance. Here, an ethos of competitiveness is seen as permeating culture, education, personal relations and orientation to the self, in ways that render inequality a fundamental indicator of ethical worth or desire. For many such theorists, economists themselves are viewed as political actors, who extend the limits of calculability. The state remains a central actor, according to this perspective, in forcing institutions to reinvent themselves and measure themselves according to this vision of agency. Distinctive neoliberal policies are those which encourage individuals, communities, students and regions to exert themselves competitively, and produce ‘scores’ of who is winning and losing.
A common theme between the Marxist and the post-structuralist accounts of neoliberalism is the rising power and authority of corporate and quasi-corporate actors and experts in public life. During the 1990s, the sense that social life was increasingly regulated by non-state intermediaries or private firms led to increased awareness of ‘governance’, ‘governmentality’ and risk as techniques for managing neoliberal or ‘advanced liberal’ societies in a calculated fashion. Arguably it is the managerial freedom of corporate and quasi-corporate actors which is maximized under applied neoliberalism, and not markets as such.
- - Amable, B. (2011). Morals and politics in the ideology of neo-liberalism. Socio-economic Review. 9: 1
- - Babb, S. (2001). Managing Mexico: Economists from Nationalism to Neoliberalism. NJ: Princeton University Press
- - Dardot, P. & Laval, C. (2014). The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society. London: Verso
- - Davies, W. (2014). The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition. London: Sage
- - Foucault, M. (2008). The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège De France, 1978-79. Basingtoke: Palgrave
- - Gamble, A. (1988). The Free Economy & The Strong State: The Politics of Thatcherism. Durham: Duke University Press
- - Harvey, D. (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press
- - Mirowski, P. (2009). Postface: Defining Neoliberalism. In Mirowski & Plehwe (eds.) (2009).
- - Peck, J. (2010). Constructions of Neoliberal Reason. Oxford: Oxford University Press
- - Rose, N. (1996). The death of the social? Re-figuring the territory of government. Economy & Society. 25
- - Valdes, J. (1995). Pinochet’s Economists: The Chicago School in Chile. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Financial crisis and the future of neoliberalism
In the years following the global financial crisis of 2007-09, and the subsequent ‘Great Recession’, a couple of different slants appeared in the research on neoliberalism. Firstly, there was a heightened awareness that applied neoliberalism has in practice translated into ‘financialisation’. This means that profits made in the financial sector account for an ever-greater share of profitability overall, made thanks to financial deregulation and growing household, consumer and student indebtedness. The banking bail-outs of 2008 highlighted the crucial role of the state in under-writing the financial sector, to allow for privatization of gains and socialization of losses. In place of profitable production, neoliberalism discovers sources of profit through expanding risk calculus into non-productive areas of social life, which can then be drawn into the financial economy. When it transpires that some of these risks cannot be handled by the private financial economy, they are transferred to the state. The complex neoliberal symbiosis between state and corporations (in this case, banks) attains a new form.
Secondly, the endurance of neoliberalism is itself a matter which requires explanation. The global financial crisis appears to have resulted in a strengthening, and not a weakening, of neoliberalism and the experts that propagate it. States appear even more committed to defending the interests of finance, against other political interests, and increasing the reach of finance into everyday life. Meanwhile, state borrowing is represented as the cause of the crisis, rather than the result, leading to further dismantling of social protections and public sector institutions.
On the other hand, the ideology, legitimacy or hegemony of neoliberalism, as a system dedicated to equal opportunity, enterprise and wealth-creation, is now far weaker than before the crisis. There is thus some debate as to whether neoliberalism is ‘alive’, ‘dead’ or in some paradoxical ‘zombie’ state.
- - Crouch, C. (2011). The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism. London: Polity
- - Davies, W. (2013). When is a Market Not a Market?: ‘Exemption’, ‘externality’ and ‘exception’ in the case of European State Aid rules. Theory Culture & Society. 30: 2. 32-59
- - Engelen, E. et al (2011). After the Great Complacence: Financial Crisis and the Politics of Reform. Oxford: Oxford University Press
- - Gamble, A. (2009). The Spectre at the Feast: Capitalist Crisis and the Politics of Recession. Basingstoke: Palgrave
- - Krippner, G. (2012). Capitalizing on Crisis: The Political Origins of the Rise of Finance. Cambridge: Harvard University Press
- - Mirowski, P. (2013). Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown. London: Verso
- - Peck, J. et al. (2010). Postneoliberalism and its Malcontents. Antipode. 41.
- - Streeck, W. (2011). The Crises of Democratic Capitalism. New Left Review. 71. Oct-Nov
William Davies is Assistant Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick (until March 2014) and Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London (from 7th April 2014). His research looks at the sociology and history of economic thought, and its influence over public policy-making. His book, The Limits of Neoliberalism: Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition is published by Sage (2014) in association with Theory Culture & Society. He is currently working on a second book on the history of Benthamite psychological measurement, to be published by Verso in 2015. His weblog is at www.potlatch.org.uk
Oct 19, 2014 : truth-out.org
"There is a lack of critical assessment of the past. But you have to understand that the current ruling elite is actually the old ruling elite. So they are incapable of a self-critical approach to the past."
Are they incapable, or merely unwilling? That is the credibility trap, the inability to address the key problems because the ruling elite must risk or even undermine their own undeserved power to do so.
I think this interview below highlights the false dichotomy between communism and free market capitalism that was created in the 1980's largely by Thatcher's and Reagan's handlers. The dichotomy was more properly between communist government and democracy, of the primacy of the individual over the primacy of the organization and the state as embodied in fascism and the real world implementations of communism in Russia and China.
But we never think of it that way any more, if at all. It is one of the greatest public relation coups in history. One form of organizational oppression by the Russian nomenklatura was replaced by the oppression by the oligarchs and their Corporations, in the name of freedom.
Free market capitalism, under the banner of the efficient markets hypothesis, has taken the place of democratic ideals as the primary good as embodied in the original framing of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.
It is no accident that the individual and their concerns have become subordinated to the corporate welfare and the profits of the upper one percent. We even see this in religion with the 'gospel of prosperity.' In their delusion they make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, so that after they may be received into their everlasting habitations.
The market as the highest good has stood on the shoulders of the 'greed is good' philosophy promulgated by the pied pipers of the me generation, and has turned the Western democracies on their heads, as a series of political leaders have capitulated to this false idol of money as the measure of all things, and all virtue.
Policy is now crafted to maximize profits as an end to itself without regard to the overall impact on freedom and the public good. It measures 'costs' in the most narrow and biased of terms, and allocated wealth based on the subversion of good sense to false economy theories.
Greed is a portion of the will to power. And that madness serves none but itself.
This is a brief excerpt. You may read the entire interview here.Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neoliberalism
19 October 2014
By Michael Nevradakis, Truthout
"...We're talking about an ideology marked by the selling off of public goods to private interests; the attack on social provisions; the rise of the corporate state organized around privatization, free trade, and deregulation; the celebration of self interests over social needs; the celebration of profit-making as the essence of democracy coupled with the utterly reductionist notion that consumption is the only applicable form of citizenship.
But even more than that, it upholds the notion that the market serves as a model for structuring all social relations: not just the economy, but the governing of all of social life...
That's a key issue. I mean, this is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility, that these things get in the way.
And I think the consequences of these policies across the globe have caused massive suffering, misery, and the spread of a massive inequalities in wealth, power, and income. Moreover, increasingly, we are witnessing a number of people who are committing suicide because they have lost their pensions, jobs and dignity.
We see the attack on the welfare state; we see the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection between private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, deregulations, an unchecked emphasis on self-interest, the refusal to tax the rich, and really the redistribution of wealth from the middle and working classes to the ruling class, the elite class, what the Occupy movement called the one percent. It really has created a very bleak emotional and economic landscape for the 99 percent of the population throughout the world."
I think that as a mode of governance, it is really quite dreadful because it tends to produce identities, subjects and ways of life driven by a kind of "survival of the fittest" ethic, grounded in the notion of the free, possessive individual and committed to the right of individual and ruling groups to accrue wealth removed from matters of ethics and social cost.
"This is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility."
That's a key issue. I mean, this is a particular political and economic and social project that not only consolidates class power in the hands of the one percent, but operates off the assumption that economics can divorce itself from social costs, that it doesn't have to deal with matters of ethical and social responsibility, that these things get in the way. And I think the consequences of these policies across the globe have caused massive suffering, misery, and the spread of a massive inequalities in wealth, power, and income. Moreover, increasingly, we are witnessing a number of people who are committing suicide because they have lost their pensions, jobs and dignity. We see the attack on the welfare state; we see the privatization of public services, the dismantling of the connection between private issues and public problems, the selling off of state functions, deregulations, an unchecked emphasis on self-interest, the refusal to tax the rich, and really the redistribution of wealth from the middle and working classes to the ruling class, the elite class, what the Occupy movement called the one percent. It really has created a very bleak emotional and economic landscape for the 99 percent of the population throughout the world.
And having mentioned this impact on the social state and the 99%, would you go as far as to say that these ideologies have been the direct cause of the economic crisis the world is presently experiencing?
Oh, absolutely. I think when you look at the crisis in 2007, what are you looking at? You're looking at the merging of unchecked financial power and a pathological notion of greed that implemented banking policies and deregulated the financial world and allowed the financial elite, the one percent, to pursue a series of policies, particularly the selling of junk bonds and the illegality of what we call subprime mortgages to people who couldn't pay for them. This created a bubble and it exploded. This is directly related to the assumption that the market should drive all aspects of political, economic, and social life and that the ruling elite can exercise their ruthless power and financial tools in ways that defy accountability. And what we saw is that it failed, and it not only failed, but it caused an enormous amount of cruelty and hardship across the world. More importantly, it emerged from the crisis not only entirely unapologetic about what it did, but reinvented itself, particularly in the United States under the Rubin boys along with Larry Summers and others, by attempting to prevent any policies from being implemented that would have overturned this massively failed policy of deregulation.
It gets worse. In the aftermath of this sordid crisis produced by the banks and financial elite, we have also learned that the feudal politics of the rich was legitimated by the false notion that they were too big to fail, an irrational conceit that gave way to the notion that they were too big to jail, which is a more realistic measure of the criminogenic/zombie culture that nourishes casino capitalism.
September 17, 2013 | The Institute for New Economic ThinkingTrust is an essential part of a functioning economy, yet it is often one of the least understood variables in economics. That’s why the Institute for New Economic Thinking is supporting the Thomson Reuters TRust index, which provides concrete metrics for understanding the level of trust in the financial system using a benchmark of the top 50 global financial institutions as a proxy for the sector as a whole.
While trust is difficult to understand and measure in the context of economics, this type of innovative work enables new and important conversations about trust and how it affects the economy. The Institute will be exploring this issue and the new economic thinking it facilitates In a series of essays over the next week. Stay tuned for more.
In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, distrust in the financial sector was widespread. Even after the mess appeared to be cleaned up, the uncertainty over whether the worst was over remained real.
But since that time, financial institutions have shored up their balance sheets as their earnings and capital cushions have improved and leverage ratios have shrunk. In short, banks today are safer than they were before the crash. So surely trust should have returned as the likelihood of systemic collapse declined.
That, however, does not appear to be the case, as is demonstrated by the persistent negative levels of trust shown by the Thomson Reuters TRust index.
Many people in the financial sector feel this distrust. But they aren’t sure what to do about it. How can they win back the public’s trust? Aren’t record profits enough?
Apparently, there are some things that money can’t buy.
Trust is an essential part of a functioning economy. It provides an antidote to the fundamental uncertainty that is part of any economic decision. Without trust, you would likely spend all of your energy and resources protecting yourself rather than working on productive activities.
For the financial sector, trust is especially important. Finance is the nerve center of our economy, and trust is an essential component of the financial system. As we saw in 2008, without trust and a properly functioning financial system the economy breaks down. If people don’t trust in financial institutions, the entire economic system can be thrown out of balance.
This lack of trust leads to many dysfunctional symptoms. When people don’t trust where to put their savings, they hoard cash, or commodities like gold, which reached its highest price in history in the aftermath the 2008 crisis. Similarly, when trust in the financial sector is low, corporations also are more likely to hoard cash and less likely to invest in expansion or hire new employees, leading to stagnant economic growth and persistent unemployment.
Despite the financial sector’s economic resurgence, we are still dealing with these economic problems today. The situation is a reflection of the distrust the public still feels for our financial institutions.
After 2008, when so many banks were rescued the public rightly felt that it was owed systemic reform so it wouldn’t be put in the position of having to rescue the financial sector again. And while there has been an increase in regulation with Dodd-Frank, none of the changes have addressed the fundamental issues underpinning the lasting distrust in the financial system. I’m talking about major obstacles such as too big to fail, derivatives regulation, and the revolving door between regulators and those they are supposed to regulate. Eric Holder’s comment before the United States Senate in March of this year that some banks are simply too big to effectively prosecute suggests that the system is still very far out of balance.
So while profits have returned, if the financial sector wants to regain the public’s trust, it needs to offer something more than earnings reports.
That’s because of the persistent belief that the financial sector is functioning less like the nerve system of the economy and more like an autoimmune disease feeding on its host. This perception is not entirely unjustified. Large multinational banks have been forced to pay billions of dollars in fines for misdeeds leading up to and during the crisis. And yet fundamental change remains illusive in the industry. As Holder’s comments suggest, the ungovernability of some of the most powerful entities in our society is a big barrier to reestablishing trust in our financial system.
While some in the financial sector may profess dismay at this state of affairs, most of the leaders of behemoth banks have shown themselves more eager to coerce the process rather than agreeing to necessary reform.
For example, consider the way underwater mortgage holders were treated when the housing market collapsed. After already being bailed out by the public, the banks preached forbearance in mortgage markets because of their still-fragile balance sheets. Yet, at the same time these same banks still were offering their employees sizeable bonuses, even though the hole in the mortgage market could have been substantially reduced by the more than $100 billion these firms handed out over the last five years.
If our society had operated under a different set of priorities and required banks to put these funds into helping underwater borrowers instead of toward bonuses for many of the same people who helped sink the system in 2008, the hole in the mortgage market would no longer exist, there would be no need for forbearance, and our economy would be in much better shape. But that’s not what happened.
As long as this Wall Street versus Main Street dynamic persists, so too will the belief that the financial sector plays by a different set of rules, rules tilted in their favor at the expense of the rest of us.
In order to regain the public’s trust, the financial sector must show itself willing to take meaningful steps to address this concern. It must show the public that it is worthy of its trust by accepting meaningful reform for the good of our society. Until that happens, all of the profits and equity financing in the world won’t win back the kind of trust that is essential for the financial sector to serve its role at the center of our economy.
This situation isn’t “heads I win, tails you lose.” In this scenario, we all lose. Persistent anger and mistrust cannot be good for anyone. We can do better.
October 21, 2014 | seva-riga.livejournal.com
Neoliberal dogma is consistent only in rabid Russophobia. In all other respects they are, as in the joke: Q: How much will be 2 x 2 ? A: Well, what you want. We can make it from anywhere from 3 to 5...
Here's an example how it looks like a dispute with normal, sane blogger, who is writing under the nick - voronkov_kirill whose position is close to the positions staunch neoliberals:
- What is happening now with oil is called "short squeeze". And market mechanisms are not involved. Oil depreciates against the logic of the market, " says Cyril.
But wait a minute, I replied, there are two ways of pricing:
- Market price inherent in democratic countries with "free market"
- Administrative inherent in the totalitarian countries without the latter
Do I understand correctly that the countries that define the price of oil and the price of the ruble, are mostly totalitarian?
"No, not right. Well, absolute market, as well as absolute democracy does not exist. The market is "free" only for small players. Big players with serious financial or political-administrative levers, can influence "free market" and even control the price....
Here is everything you need to know about neoliberalism. And about so called "free market". Here Voltaire equality of free individuals. Here's to you and all the liberal government non-intervention in private Affairs. There is a “small players” and there are agents that can (I wonder by what right?) this element of control.
Unfortunately neoliberal thinking is not capable of a simple two-step, otherwise it inevitably would come to the conclusion that the absence of free competition in the economy will lead to the same state as in politics, where free competition of ideas and authorities only for small players, but not for TBTF -- like top government and industrial leaders. That is all about this now fashionable word "corruption"
In 1988 one stubborn Communist (then he is the same stubborn nationalist (Latvia-forever), and now no less staunch euro-emigrant ) promised to shoot me, because I argued that there were no socialism in the USSR and the economic system was not consistent with the fundamental principle of socialism is "from each according to his ability - to each according to his work"
Now here's the same thing with the market, with competition, with democracy. In reality like in case with the pregnancy market is iether free or not. If the corruption rules in the "real" market but illusions are force fed like in Guantanamo, sooner or later you will get full totalitarianism and with it total corruption. This is where slowly but inexorably the West moves, and with it anyone who tries to copy the Western model of the neoliberal economy. to this stable state called total corruption.
Yesterday Politico promoted a story about "Putin's Coup written by junior neocon Ben Judah. The lede:The war in Ukraine is no longer only about Ukraine. The conflict has transformed Russia. This increasingly is what European leaders and diplomats believe: that Vladimir Putin and his security establishment have used the fog of war in Ukraine to shroud the final establishment of his brittle imperialist dictatorship in Moscow.
Among those who believe that this is happening, and that Europe will be facing down a more menacing Russia for a long time to come, is Radek Sikorski, who was Poland’s foreign minister from 2007 until September.
Anything that starts off by calling the elected government of the Russian Federation an "imperialist dictatorship" is obviously rubbish.
But the hard right-wing Radek Sikorski, who ones had a U.S. passport and is married to the neocon Washington Post columnist Anne Appelbaum, always makes some funny jokes like identifying Obama's grandfather as a cannibal so I read on.
And I was right, there were some really funny lines in there:Russia has attempted to involve Poland in the invasion of Ukraine, just as if it were a post-modern re-run of the historic partitions of Poland. “He wanted us to become participants in this partition of Ukraine,” says Sikorski. “Putin wants Poland to commit troops to Ukraine. These were the signals they sent us. … We have known how they think for years. We have known this is what they think for years. This was one of the first things that Putin said to my prime minister, Donald Tusk, [soon to be President of the European Council] when he visited Moscow. He went on to say Ukraine is an artificial country and that Lwow is a Polish city and why don’t we just sort it out together. Luckily Tusk didn’t answer. He knew he was being recorded.”
So Russia was planning, in 2008, to divide Ukraine between Poland and itself? Why the hell should or would Russia ever take up such a burden? Why should it create a mess in Eastern Europe which would be against all its interests? Anyone who has intelligently watched Putin and Russian politics would immediately recognize that Sikorski's claim is obviously false. Putin does realpolitik, always and ever. He reacts when Russia gets attacked, by Georgia's artillery on Russian peacekeepers or by a U.S. plotted neonazi coup in Kiev, but he is certainly not one who will risk anything significant for some lunatic imperial phantasy.
Whoever came up with that funny joke must have had way too many drinks. And the reporter who believed it and the editor who published it must have way too few braincells.
Reuters though thought differently, or just for fun wanted to stir the caldron, and distributed the nonsense on its wire.
Following that wire, Russia characterized the claim as "a fable" and Sikorski was pressed to take it back. That did not go well either:In a news conference on Tuesday, Sikorski was vague about whether he made those exact remarks to Politico Magazine and told journalists to refer to another interview he gave to a Polish media website. He said there that he didn't hear Putin's words firsthand, but stressed that they were treated in 2008 as "surrealistic" or a joke.
Later in the day, he held a second news conference where he said his memory had failed him in the interview with Politico Magazine and that the bilateral meeting between Tusk and Putin didn't take place in Moscow, as he said earlier, but at the NATO summit in Bucharest in April 2008.
So Sikorski said:
- "Putin suggested to Tusk to divide Ukraine between themselves."
- "Putin suggested to Tusk to divide Ukraine between themselves, but it was a joke."
- "Putin suggested to Tusk to divide Ukraine between themselves, but I wasn't present at the conservation."
- "No such conservation took place and I certainly was not present when it happened."
Sikorski even got the place of Putin-Tusk meeting wrong. The Politico author and editors, Blake Hounshell in this case, obviously did not even do a basic fact-checking of their sources claims.
Sikorski is nuts. Everyone in Europe knows this and that is exactly the reason why he was recently fired as Foreign Minister of Poland and reassigned to play Speaker of Parliament where one had hoped that he would produce less nonsense. As that reassignment did not help it is now really time to send him off to the American Enterprise Institute or some other asylum for neoconned lunatics. His boss seems to agree:Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, who's in the same party as Sikorski, criticized him for dodging reporters' questions on the issue at the first conference. Political opponents want him fired, saying there is no room in politics for what they called irresponsibility.
Kopacz said she expected Sikorski to directly answer reporters' questions.
"I will not tolerate this kind of behavior. I will not tolerate this kind of standards that Speaker Sikorski tried to present at today's (news) conference," Kopacz said.
Note to reporters and editors: Publishing such nonsense like Sikorski's obviously rubbish claims is egg on your faces. Lots of it.Oui | Oct 21, 2014 3:38:59 PM | 1james | Oct 21, 2014 3:59:21 PM | 2
.. who once had a U.S. passport.
He held a British passport, worked as a "roving reporter" for National Reniew in Angola on the UNITA project with neocons like Condi Rice, Abramoff and Gingrich; witnessed the first Stinger missiles handed to mujihadeen in Tora Bora; worked for AEI and the Atlantic Initiative; pushed the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, was defense minister and FM in Poland and is married to Anne Applebaum.
○ National Review reporter Sikorski as witness to US Congress: The Mystique of Savimbi | Oct. 12, 1989 |
○ Radek Sikorski Returns to Ukraine's Headlines: Putin's Coup
this guy should get a gig working with the usa state dept.. oh wait - i guess he indirectly does in a weird sort of way thru his bozo propagandist wife annie applepants..great couple.. i take it they live in the usa, right?
Oui | Oct 21, 2014 4:00:58 PM | 3Nana2007 | Oct 21, 2014 4:09:06 PM | 4
We don't have Faux News, however the public news broadcast treats the Dutch with "neutral" observers on Ukraine and Putin's Russia with Ben Judah and Anne Applebaum.Anonymous | Oct 21, 2014 4:15:31 PM | 5
It's sad to think that the great experiment in democracy that is the US has devolved into 'making it up as we go along'' and a core belief in ignorance. The US at it's inception was bankrolled by Russian trade and diplomacy, so I guess it would be fitting if it be undermined by the same. With senility spreading among even the junior elite quicker than Ebola, the words 'We will bury you' are looking more prescient by the day.Hugo First | Oct 21, 2014 4:24:47 PM | 6
Here he is..
http://freepl.info/uploads/foto/2011/08/radek_sikorski_w_afganistanie.jpgsomebody | Oct 21, 2014 4:28:49 PM | 7
The initial claim goes out, is picked up on the wire, and after that all the retractions and controversy are quickly lost in the shuffle as more scurrilous claims are stuffed into the slobbering maw of gullible "news" consumers. This is how the game is played, and it is cynical and insults the intelligence of anyone able to recall what was said or done last week, but it reminds me of people who drive while their attention is focused on their ongoing cellphone conversation: they barely know what's going on around them, and forget about what they've driven past.Don Bacon | Oct 21, 2014 4:52:37 PM | 9
It is an old idea - last being floated in MarchReuters) - A prominent Russian politician has proposed dividing Ukraine along the lines of an infamous Nazi-Soviet pact and suggested that regions in Western Ukraine hold referendums on breaking away from Kiev.
In a letter sent to the governments of Poland, Romania and Hungary, Vladimir Zhirinovsky also suggested those countries hold referendums on incorporating the regions into their territory.
Zhirinovsky, whose nationalist Liberal Democratic party largely backs President Vladimir Putin in the Russian parliament, sent the letter as Russia annexed the Crimea region of southern Ukraine last week.
He is deputy speaker at the Duma and his party holds a minority in the parliament. But his ideas and language resonate with a large part of the Russian population and the Kremlin's increasingly pro-nationalist rhetoric.
His letter, seen by Reuters, suggested Poland, Hungary and Romania, who are now in the European Union, might wish to take back regions which he said were in the past their territories.
The regions were incorporated into Ukraine when it was part of the Soviet Union at the end of World War Two and featured in a secret annex of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact under which the Soviet and Nazi German foreign ministers carved up the area.
The politics of this are beyond my understanding. But Reuters considering it news in March - and straining the news to implicate Putin - presumably was supposed to embarrass Germany by referencing the Hitler Stalin pact, which actually was something completely different.
Sikorski spreading the rumour is crazy. I suspect a lot of people threaten to wash dirty linen just now when Europe is supposed to pay for Ukraine's gas and Poland's activities in Ukraine could be part of it.
I guess it is due to the negotiations process. Ukraine's position does not look good. Talking of the Polish partition does nothing to improve it.
There seems a lot of hard bargaining going on - the United States suddenly sanction Hungarian.
...Reuters considering it news in March...
"News" ain't what it used to be, if it ever was. Only a small part of Reuters is news, most of it is financials. Same with Bloomberg and Wall Street Journal, etc. (Reuters and Bloomberg are particularly helpful in promoting stock activity when the place the ticker symbol after the corporate name in "news" articles.)
wiki--Reuters Group plc was a British multinational media and financial information company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It merged with The Thomson Corporation in 2008, forming Thomson Reuters. Reuters Group was best known for the Reuters news agency, which was the original business of the company. By the time of its merger with Thomson the bulk of Reuters Group's revenues came from the provision of financial market data, with news reporting comprising less than 10% of its turnover.
Look at the Reuters news header to get an idea of Reuters' priorities:
So what was the financial benefit to Reuters with this bogus "news?" I don't know, but I bet they knew.
Michal | Oct 21, 2014 4:56:35 PM | 10Kopacz is not his boss. Actually the Speaker of Parliament is a higher rank than Prime Minister, or at least parallel in constitutional hierarchy. She might be considered his boss within the party but still she's not the one who decides there.
Anyway, being Polish, I'm happy that this utter idiot is not representing my country abroad anymore. I hope after this incident he will be flushed down the toilet. Pity that in politics shit often resurfaces.
Almand | Oct 21, 2014 4:57:00 PM | 11
Sikorski maybe a loose cannon, but isn't some partition of the Ukraine an inevitabilty? Eastern Ukraine has no reason to ever trust the coup government again, and reconciliation doesn't seem to be an option anymore. Neither the EU nor Russia wants the responsibility of propping up the rapidly failing state (to say nothing of the gas bill owed Russia).
Regardless, the idea that Russia would want a new border region full of hostile Ukrainians inside a hostile, NATO member Poland seems a touch... absurd. Then again, what's the need for logic when dredging up bad memories of WW2?
2014/10/19 | Sociología crítica
Danos tu opinión
Un amable lector de este blog ha realizado un resumen en inglés de nuestro artículo Las catedrales del kremlin y el capitalismo multipolar; es un resumen diferente al que nosotros hubiéramos hecho, pero de interés sin duda alguna. Ha sido publicado como apoyo a una pregunta en un coloquio con el economista ruso Mikhail Khazin organizado por The vineyard of the saker. Publicaremos aquí la respuesta.
Question: Does Russia represent an alternative to the current western economic/social model? Or is this view an illusion based only on the conflict between some traditional vs. post-modern values? / Arturo
For context to the question I will provide a translation / paraphrase / summary of some key points in the following article Las catedrales del kremlin y el capitalismo multipolar
The article contains and numbers many more points (36 in total) but I have translated/summarized only the first 14 (the rest is provided is a very raw translation --NNB)
- Moscow cannot defeat the American plans – i.e. the Anglo Zionist world elite – without contradicting the class interests of its own elites (Russian oligarchs): This is impossible because the system of sanctions and the blocking of access to their accounts and assets in the West generates such contradictions in the Russian power elites that, in practice, it prevents them from reacting adequately; it puts them on their knees before the American plans.
- Russia *could* resist those plans, since it possesses the strength, sense of identity, historical memory and material resources to do so. But in order to do so, its ruling elites would have to take measures that would affect their own class status within both the Russian system and the international system. And we can see that these are measures they are not willing to take. On the other hand, the Anglo Zionists suffer no such internal contradiction. Quite the opposite, in fact: Their own interest as the supporting base of the globalist hyperclass necessarily forces them to maintain the challenge to the end.
- By the term Anglo Zionists, in this analysis, we mean the dominant power group whose territorial and military base resides in the United States, and whose center originates in the historical and social links of the Anglo-American oligarchies, branching off to other historical central metropolis in Europe or other power centers in different parts of the world.
- The concept is made up of two elements that must be explained: the first, the “anglo” reference, has to do with the North American British connection [...] the second, the “zionist” reference, has to do with the interconnection among the economic and financial power groups that maintain various kinds of links with Israel. It is not so much a reference to ethnic origin, but rather to orientations as groups or lobbies of political and economic interests. A good part of this Zionist component consists of people who are neither Israelis nor Jews, but who feel identified with the pro-Israel lobby in the United States, Britain and other countries. Thus the term “zionist” referees here to an ideology, not to an ethnic origin.
- The Anglo elites on both sides of the Atlantic have evolved from being national elites to being the executive base of a world Hyperclass made up of individuals capable of exerting a determining influence in the most powerful nation, the United States.
- The result of the Anglo Zionist line of attack is that the contradiction and internal struggle is now occurring in Moscow between those who have already chosen to sell out and those who have not yet found the time to realize that a multipolar global capitalism is not viable.
- In this context, recovering Crimea was a mirage, an illusion.
- If we compare the implications of the Maydan coup in Kiev with the liberation of Crimea, we see that the strategic defeat implicit in losing Ukraine as an ally is of such magnitude that everything else pales by co s (all of them) in Kiev was so gigantic that its implications are frightening. It was either a failure or something even worse. In any case, the Crimea affair was merely a small episode in a confrontation that Russia is losing.
- Russia arrived very late at modern capitalism, and that is why its current elite will be unable to occupy a space among the globalist elite without paying the necessary toll, which is none other than renouncing its territorial power base – its country and its access to and control of its energy resources and raw materials.
- Stubbornly maintaining the dispute in trying to obtain a multi-polar capitalism, leads necessarily to a intra-capitalist confrontation, as it did in 1914-1918. And because of the nature of the current actors, nuclear powers … it brings the conflict to 2.0 war versions (color revolutions)
- All attempts by Russia to develop a hypothetical line of response based on similar strategies (i.e. mobilizing a social response based on discontent) have no future, because Russia does not represent an alternative social model, not even in the realm of Illusion of Hope. It can only elicit some empathy from those who reject the American domination, but here the class contradictions come into play again, because it is not enough to oppose Washington merely on political-military grounds, since the key to global power resides in the financial and military structures that enable global control and plunder: World Trade Organization, IMF, Free Trade agreements, World Bank, NATO… these are entities in relation to which Russia only shows its displeasure at not being invited to the table as an equal, not accepting that because it arrived late at modern capitalism, it must play a secondary role. On the other hand, Russia is ignoring the deep contempt, bordering on racism, that things Slavic generate among Anglo Zionist elites.
- In order to be able to fight the 2.0 versions of war that are engineered today, an alternative social model is needed. Alternative not only in regard to the postmodern vs. traditional sets of values, but fundamentally in regard to the social model that stems from the modes of production. In the postmodern vs. traditional conflict, Russia tends to align with the most reactionary values. And in regard to the social struggle, they don’t want to enter that fray because they renounced it long ago. They renounced the entire Soviet Union, which they destroyed from within.
- The contradictions and the dialectical nature of reality have their own logic, however. Thus, a coup in Kiev and the widespread appearance of Nazi symbols in the streets of Ukraine was all that it took to induce a spontaneous reaction in the Slavic world. The popular resistance in the Donbass took strong root thanks to the historic memory of the people’s of the old USSR and its war against fascism.
- If Russia were to abandon Novorossia to the oligarchs and their mafias, the world’s “left” – or whatever remains of it — would come to scorn post-Soviet Russia even more than it already does. In the months following the brave action in Crimea and the heroic resistance in the Donbass, many people around the world looked to Moscow in search of some sign that it would support the anti-fascist and anti-oligarchic resistance, even if only as an act of self-defense by Moscow against the globalist challenge. If it finally abandons Novorossia, the price in terms of loss of moral prestige will be absolute.
- A support of the left has not been sought, but that is a collateral consequence of the character of class struggle open that has been given in the Donbas, where Russia has been forced to provide some assistance that would prevent the genocide at the hands of the fascist Ukrainian.
- Cuando say left, we refer logically to the one who has expressed their support to the struggle of people in the Donbas, as it is very difficult to consider the "left" to those who have preferred to remain silent or to have directly been complicit in the assault, and the coup in Kiev.
- The degradation of the left as politically active social force is very intense, their structures are embroiled in the collapse, or in the confusion, when not literally corrupt. Then related to both socialist parties since 1914 and the communists, at least from the time of fracture of 1956. The social changes experienced in Europe with the systems of welfare state, based on the elevation of the standard of living of the working population and the obtaining of social peace by sharing the power with the trade unions are at the base of the post-industrial society and the resulting profound changes of values.
The suicide of the USSR in 1989-93 marked a brutal global change , in which the balance which was preserved during the cold war was broken. That led to the capitalist elite in the west, which we are calling the Anglo-Zionists, to the suspension of the social pact (forced abandonment of New Deal), that gave rise to the welfare state and the emergence stark reality of a global power of capitalists without systemic opposition . Today the whole neoliberal globalization system of capitalism is in danger by the depletion of the natural resources. And to sustain this mode of production, they need to speed up territorial domination in the form of control and access to resources of other countries. Now there no space in the global system for spaces, which are managed autonomously even to a certain level.
- The system of global domination, capitalism, ruling elites with a territorial basis in the area of Anglo-American, global parasitic Hyperclass and depletion of resources, as well as cannibalization of the other nations, in the midst of troika of crisis of climate change, peak of the energy and raw materials shortages. those three factors that challenge the current globalization framework ... And the crisis of Novorossia, been demonstrated both impotence and the lack of real political autonomy of Russian elite with the respect to the dominant power in neoliberal worlds order..
- The new citizen movements in the western world are not so much resistance movements as samples of the discontent of the middle classes in precarious position of marginalization and/or social trance. This protest led to a "Maidans" which are not permanent and does not question the basis of the system. The participants seems to believe that it is possible to restore the old good world of the welfare state.
- The western movements are brainwashed by messages emanating from the headquarters of Democratic party of North America, the propaganda anarcho-capitalist and the various networks of ideological interference, are managing to break the bonds of historical memory that unite the struggles of the past with the present, de-ideologize the struggles and conflicts and to deny the tension left and right, isolating the militants -- or simple citizens who feel identified with the values of the left - of the masses who are suffering in the first place casualisation. At the heart of this new "left" are leaders that are co-opted voices, pseudo-intellectuals who destroy the words and empty of content of key concepts in a way that the alienation of the masses demonstrate at the language itself, thus preventing putting a real name to social process and things, and to identify the social phenomena.
- Viva to Russia, which the only country which eve in a weak form decided to fight neoliberal world order and position itself as an anti-imperialist force... It is interesting to observe the current great moral confusion in political landscape of the societies in decay. Confusion which have been stimulated by Moscow actions. As the result some the far-right groups that are simultaneously anti-US that anti-Russian now support Moscow. Also some part of Russia far-right political groups got the sympathy and support of factions of the anti EU far right forces in France, the Nazis of the MSR in Spain, and from small groups of euro-asianists. This line of political affiliation will allow them to simply join the Russia failure [to find alternative to monopolar neoliberal capitalism] and might well discredit then more profoundly in the future.
- The euro-asianists forces technically speaking are reactionary forces, neoliberal forces which is comparable to the worst of the worst in the western world. Moreover, they do not have any way to solve the main contradictions that arise in the current neoliberal model in the terms of class and dominance of Anglo Zionist global elite.
- Euro-Asianism is just a suitable ideology for the construction of Russian national idea for those who seeks to achieve lease to life for Russia sovereignty on the world stage. It is the actual proof that Russia has come too late to globalised capitalism and fascism...
- Huttington and his war of civilizations cynically exploit this confrontation on Anglo Zionist elite and newcomers, redefining it along the idea of the clash of civilizations which avoid using the notion of class and thus is ideologically false. Alexander Duguin who promote similar ideas quite seriously just shows the degree of degeneration of the Russian intelligentsia, which oscillates between serving as comprador class to the global Anglo Zionist elite and the repetition (as a farce, and with 75 years of delay ) of fascist reactionary revolutions in Western Europe, which were phenomenon of the interwar period (rexistas in Belgium, Croix de feu in France, CruzFlechados in Hungary, Requetés and Falangistas in Spain).
- The globalist elite offered a solution formulated in class terms, as it could not be another way: in the best cases, they proposes the co-optation to a handful of members of the Russian elite as deserving members of the new global Hyperclass, but this path is opened only the very very rich, and the pre-condition is the delivery of the country to plunder, where the global elite certainly would have need of some compradors which will be more or less adequately compensated depending on their achievements and sacrifices in the name of global neoliberal domination.
- The part of the power elite of Russia, which managed to expel the western compradors of the Yeltsin era, and rein in the oligarchs then, had tried with some success to regain control of the territory of the country. The illusion of the members of this part of the power elite -- basically the security services, both civil and military, and various synergies of those with the military-industrial lobby -- is that it would be enough to neutralize the Russian fifth column of the Anglo Zionists to take back control of their territorial base of power. this idea is going to be shredded into pieces when it enter into contradiction with the reality of the class struggle and interests of the elite at the global level. Russia is, for its size, influence, and resources, so huge that a line of action based on the defense of its sovereignty strategic enters in collision with the global power of neoliberalism. And that why it attracts disproportional reaction of the Anglo Zionists
- Supporters of Anglo Zionists that are ready to consent to a German-Russian alliance or Russia-EU alliance that give the viability of a idea of mutually beneficial co-development of both Russia and Europe are forgetting that such an action would require European sovereignty. Which is was non-existent iether on the level of the EU, or on the level of member states. The penetration of the Atlantism in Europe is already systemic. In the old European states there are still ancient national traditions, which were based on the basis of cultural, industrial, economic, and political identity. And they still run strong. But in the current situation for such states there no space for the sovereignty as the dominant power bloc in the national elite as well as in EU elite are Atlantists. Where this situation takes the Russian elite and the Russian state without confrontation? A confrontation that they, on the other hand are not willing and are not able to pursue.
- The multi-polar capitalist world had its lifespan which come to an end (exploded) in 1914. In 2014, the globalization of the elites and the capital is of such magnitude that no serious resistance is possible on the basis of some capitalist model. In those conditions the idea of Russian elite ability to enforce change to multipolar version of the currently monopolar neoliberal world is doomed to be a failure.
- Zbigniew Brezinsky has raised things crudely and openly, unlike the ("fake") supporters of perestroika, and their current heirs in Russia. Brezinsky know how to think in terms of the class contradiction and knows perfectly well that the Russian oligarchy has directed its monetary flows abroad, moved families abroad, and moved their investments abroad. That means that Anglo Zionists can disrupt any claim of sovereignty over the territory and resources by simply pressing the local neoliberal elite, giving them to choose between their interests as a class and their illusionary desire for sovereignty. Because in a globalized world, with its brutal fight for the natural resources there is no possibility of maintaining both, except what can be achieved in terms of direct anti-imperialist struggle. There is no space for the national bourgeoisies in the XXI century. You can only have sovereignty if it is posed in terms of a rupture with the actually existing neoliberal order of global capitalism, which, in its core is Anglo Zionists globalization. This break does not have to be forced, but in terms of scientific analysis of the social processes is a logical consequence of following this path one way or the other. To claim sovereignty over their own resources and territory inevitably leads to confrontation, and logical needs a break up and confront the Anglo Zionist empire. If you really want to achieve the goal. And that fact imposes the logic of the relationships and balance of power in the world today.
- The claims of the BRIC countries -- to the extent that you do not question them -- is that they have an alternative model to the dominant neoliberal capitalism model (Ango Zionist globalization with the center in the USA) are doomed to be a failure. The efforts of the BRIC countries can generate a lot of noise and discomfort for the West, but they can not break the global neoliberal system. Those countries are rightfully fearful of their budget balances -- which are very fragile. It can be even said that they are on their way to implosion sooner or later, due to the unbalanced structure of their internal classes, including first of all their own elite.
- The claim that it is possible to achieve the multipolar capitalist world (which Russia defends) and which led to current Ukrainian crisis without confrontation is false. As soon as Russia wanted to return to the global chessboard. as an independent player, they instantly saw opponents attacking weak elements of their defense at the borders. Ukraine has been a defeat for Russia and the Crimea is not a adequate compensation for loss of Ukraine. Now Novorossia is being sacrificed precisely because the class contradictions that have emerged in Moscow and lack of desire of Russian elite to go the bitter end.
- The situation in the Donbas / Novorossia clearly shows the resignation of Moscow to the victory, and their desire to avoid the clash with neoliberal world order. The fact is that Royal Dutch Shell has already begun the fracking in the Donbas, the coup regime in Kiev are already internationally accepted without reservations, the truce imposed in Novorossia has brought to its knees the armed resistance to junta. All this leads way to deliver Novorossia to the hands of mafias sponsored by the local oligarchs with friends in Kiev and Moscow.
- Statement that the destiny of Russia was played in the Donbas is something more than a phrase, It is a claim based on a reality, as the defeat of Novorossia would be the proof that Moscow had not the will to struggle. The betrayal of the fighters and the hopes of Novorossia is the acceptance of the defeat and might lead in the future to the victory to the Moscow Maydan, the same alliance of compradors and nationalists using which as storm troopers the globalist elite achieved their goal in Ukraine. If Novorossia is defeated, they can expect being able to push a puppet into the Kremlin the same way. And not without reason. This summer, the heroic struggle of the militia of the Donbas was the key element that forced the changes of the script designed for Kiev as well as diminished chances of successful application of the same methods in Moscow. The Minsk Agreements and the truce imposed by them are putting Novorossia on its knees, allowing for its destruction, but this time at the hands of their allies. Sad spectacle for the Russian security services, which were effective enough to organize the Donbas resistance, but now are useless and powerless before the neofascist Kiev junta.
- The struggle of the Donbas does not correspond to the strategic interests of the Russian elite. They have been forced to intervene to prevent the horror of the mass murder of the population of the Donbas at the hands of the extreme right. But the dream of a Donbas free of oligarchs and with a sovereign state, committed to social justice for workers on this Slavic land are completely incompatible with the post-soviet status quo. Only to the extent that there is a significant faction of Russian elite aware of the contradictions of the global neoliberal game and who put their sense of patriotism first can lead them to face the challenge that they face. Only in this case there would be any possibility of resistance; I would say patriotic resistance, because we already know no one at the top is able to think in terms of class.
- While very unlikely - there can be a move from February to October in Novorossia. You would say impossible. But he insurrection of the Donbas in March, logically was "February". In order to achieve victory, to take full control over the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk needs creation of the Revolutionary Military Council and suspension of the upcoming elections. which looking to be a smokescreen for capitulation to junta. They need to declare that they are ready to resist to the end. This output would be desperate move, without a doubt, and would represent the equivalent of a new "October". The event which of it occurs would force Moscow to show their cards to their own population. And perhaps it can help to generate a pulse necessary for the organization of the fight with Anglo Zionists empire between the towers of the Kremlin. That would move the fight toward more patriotic and popular goals, But this presuppose a lot of assumptions and first of all that such a "Kremlin tower", which is capable of emitted such a pulse, exists. Only in this case we can talk about achieving a real sovereignty. As Vasily Záitsev in Stalingrad suggested: "Maybe we're doomed, but for the moment we are still the masters and lords of our land." In Novorossia there are plenty of fighters who would agree with Záitsev, but they certainly lack political direction and, now the lack the support of Kremlin.
- The Russian objective is achieving a multipolar capitalism with a Russia united under a nationalist ideology based on the manipulation of patriotic sentiment, Orthodoxy and various Slavic myths. This objective is being challenged by the reality of the conflict, which should be defined in terms of geopolitical goals. The reality is that the Russian elite would be allowed to control their population as they wish, provided they renounce its sovereignty over territory and resources, renounce their physical power base, i.e. homeland. This is the nature of the challenge. Putin is mistaken if he thinks that the Grand Patriarch has the answer in their holy books. There is not enough incense in the Kremlin cathedrals to mask that reality.”
Sep 27, 2014 | mid.ru
...There is growing evidence of the contradiction between the need for collective, cooperative efforts to provide adequate responses to challenges common to all, and the aspirations of a number of countries for domination and the revival of archaic bloc thinking based on military drill discipline and the erroneous logic of “friend or foe.”
The US-led Western alliance that portrays itself as a champion of democracy, rule of law and human rights within individual countries，acts from a completely opposite position in the international arena, rejecting the democratic principle of the sovereign equality of states enshrined in the UN Charter and tires to decide for everyone what is good or bad.
Washington has openly declared its right to the unilateral use of force anywhere to uphold its own interests. Military interference has become common, even despite the dismal outcome of the use of power that the US has carried out in recent years.
The sustainability of the international system has been severely shaken by NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, intervention in Iraq, the attack against Libya and the failure of the operation in Afghanistan. Thanks only to intensive diplomatic efforts, an aggression against Syria was averted in 2013. There is the involuntary impression that the goal of various “colour revolutions” and other goals to change unsuitable regimes is to provoke chaos and instability.
Today, Ukraine has fallen victim to such an arrogant policy. The situation there has revealed the remaining deep-rooted systemic flaws of the existing architecture in the Euro-Atlantic area. The West has embarked upon a course towards “the vertical structuring of humanity” tailored to its own hardly inoffensive standards. After they declared victory in the Cold War and the “end of history,” the US and the EU opted for expanding the geopolitical area under their control without taking into account the balance of legitimate interests of all the people of Europe. Our Western partners did not heed our numerous alerts on the unacceptability of the violation of the principles of the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, and time and again avoided serious cooperative work to establish a common space of equal and indivisible security and cooperation from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The Russian proposal to draft a European security treaty was rejected. We were told directly that only the members of the North Atlantic Alliance could have the legally binding guarantees of security, and NATO expansion to the East continued in spite of the promises to the contrary given previously. NATO’s change toward hostile rhetoric and to the drawdown of its cooperation with Russia even to the detriment of the West’s own interests, and the additional build-up of the military infrastructure at Russian borders made the inability of the alliance to change its genetic code embedded during the Cold War era obvious.
The US and the EU supported the coup in Ukraine and reverted to outright justification of any act by the self-proclaimed Kiev authorities that used suppression by force on the part of the Ukrainian people that had rejected the attempts to impose an anti-constitutional way of life to the entire country and wanted to defend its rights to a native language, culture and history. It was precisely the aggressive assault on these rights that compelled the population of Crimea to take destiny into its own hands and make a choice in favor of self-determination. This was an absolutely free choice no matter what has been invented by those who were, in the first place, responsible for the internal conflict in Ukraine.
The attempts to distort the truth and to hide the facts behind blanket accusations have been undertaken at all stages of the Ukrainian crisis. Nothing has been done to track down and prosecute those responsible for February’s bloody events at Maidan and the massive loss of human life in Odessa, Mariupol and other regions in Ukraine. The scale of appalling humanitarian disaster provoked by the acts of the Ukrainian army in southeastern Ukraine has been deliberately underscored. Recently, new horrible facts have been brought to light as mass graves were discovered in the outskirts of Donetsk. Despite UNSC Resolution 2166 a thorough and independent investigation of the circumstances into the loss of the Malaysian airliner over the territory of Ukraine has been protracted. The culprits of all these crimes must be identified and brought to justice. Otherwise it is unrealistic to expect a national reconciliation in Ukraine.
... ... ...
Let me recall the not too distant past. As a condition for establishing diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1933 the U.S. government demanded of Moscow the guarantees of non-interference in the domestic affairs of the US and obligations not to take any actions with a view to changing political or social order in America. At that time Washington feared a revolutionary virus and the above guarantees were put on record and were based on reciprocity. Perhaps, it makes sense to return to this item and reproduce that demand of the US government on a universal scale. Shouldn't the General Assembly adopt a declaration on the unacceptability of interference into the domestic affairs of sovereign states and non-recognition of a coup as a method for changing power? The time has come to exclude from international interaction the attempts of illegitimate pressure of some states on others. The meaningless and counterproductive nature of unilateral sanctions is obvious if we review the US blockade of Cuba.
The policy of ultimatums and philosophy of supremacy and domination do not meet the requirements of the 21st century and run counter to the objective process of development for a polycentric and democratic world order.
Russia is promoting a positive and unifying agenda. We always were and will be open to discussion of the most complex issues no matter how unsolvable they would seem in the beginning. We will be prepared to search for compromises and the balancing of interests and go as far as to exchange concessions provided only that the discussion is respectful and equal.
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New dividing lines in Europe should not be allowed, even more so given that under globalization these lines can turn into a watershed between the West and the rest of the world. It should be stated honestly that no one has a monopoly on truth and that no one can tailor global and regional processes to one’s own needs. There is no alternative today to the development of consensus regarding the rules of sustainable global governance under new historical circumstances - with full respect for cultural and civilizational diversity in the world and the multiplicity of the models of development. It will be a difficult and perhaps tiresome task to achieve such a consensus on every issue. Nevertheless the recognition of the fact that democracy in every state is the “worst form of government, except for all the others” also took time to break through, until Winston Churchill passed his verdict. The time has come to realize the inevitability of this axiom including in international affairs where today there is a huge deficit of democracy. Of course someone will have to break up centuries-old stereotypes and abandon the claims to eternal uniqueness. But there is no other way. Consolidated efforts can only be built on the principles of mutual respect and by taking into account the interests of each other as is the case, for example, under the framework of BRICS and the SCO, the G20 and the UN Security Council.
The theory of the advantages of cooperative action has been supported by practice: this includes progress in the settlement of the situation around the Iranian nuclear program and the successful conclusion of the chemical demilitarization of Syria. Also, regarding the issue of chemical weapons, we would like to obtain authentic information on the condition of the chemical arsenals in Libya. We understand that our NATO colleagues, after bombing this country in violation of a UNSC Resolution, would not like to “stir up”" the mayhem they created. However, the problem of uncontrolled Libyan chemical arsenals is too serious to turn a blind eye to. The UN Secretary General has an obligation to show his responsibility on this issue as well.
What is important today is to see the global priorities and avoid making them hostages to a unilateral agenda. There is an urgent need to refrain from double standards in the approaches to conflict settlement. Everybody largely agrees that it is a key issue to resolutely counter the terrorists who are attempting to control increasingly larger territories in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the Sahara-Sahel area. If this is the case then this task should not be sacrificed to ideological schemes or a desire to retaliate. Terrorists, no matter what their slogans, should remain outside the law.
Moreover, it goes without saying that the fight against terrorism should be based solidly on international law. The unanimous adoption of a number of UNSC Resolutions including those on the issue of foreign terrorist operatives became an important stage in this fight. And conversely, the attempts to act against the Charter of our Organization do not contribute to the success of cooperative efforts. The struggle against terrorists in Syria should be structured in cooperation with the Syrian government, which has clearly stated its willingness to join it. Damascus has already proven its ability to work with the international community by delivering on its obligations under the programme to dispose of its chemical weapons.
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Submitted by Jim Quinn via The Burning Platform blog,
The Walking Dead reflect the darkening mood of this intensifying Fourth Turning. I wrote one of my more pessimistic articles called Welcome to Terminus in April regarding the season four finale of the Walking Dead series. I essentially argued we are approaching the end of the line and the world is going to get real nasty.
In the six short months since I wrote that depressing article, we’ve seen men beheaded on Youtube videos by terrorists no one had ever heard of at the beginning of this year. Somehow a ragtag band of 30,000 Muslim terrorists, using American military equipment supplied to fight Assad in Syria and taken from the Iraqi Army when they turned tail and ran away, have been able to defeat 600,000 Iraqi and Kurd fighters with air support from the vaunted U.S. Air Force. Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan descend into never ending religious based warfare. We’ve even had passenger planes mysteriously disappear in Asia with no trace.
Crimea seceded from Ukraine and rejoined Russia, initiating a plan to punish Russia by the western powers. America supported and planned the overthrow of a democratically elected government in the Ukraine, with a predictable push back response by Russia, leading to a bloody civil war in the Eastern Ukraine. We’ve had a false flag shooting down of an airliner over the Ukraine by the Ukrainian government, blamed on Russia and Putin by Obama and his EU co-conspirators. The American corporate media mouthpieces have ignored the cover-up of missing controller transmissions, black box recordings, and physical evidence regarding the murder of hundreds of innocent people by western politicians. Israel and Hamas resumed their endless religious war in Gaza, with thousands of casualties and destruction.
UK fear mongering and financial threats barely averted the secession of Scotland from the UK. Cantalonia continues to push for a secession vote to leave Spain. Violent protests have broken out in Spain, Italy, France and even Sweden. Turmoil, protests and riots in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina and Mexico have been driven by anger at political corruption, high inflation, and general economic dysfunction. Saber rattling between China and Japan has increased and young people in Hong Kong have been protesting the lack of democratic elections being permitted by China. The world economy, undergoing central bank monetary stimulus withdraw, is headed back into recession as Germany, China and the U.S. join the rest of the world in economic decline. And now the Western Africa outbreak of ebola has gone worldwide, with predictions of an epidemic potentially causing worldwide economic chaos.
What’s happening in the real world makes the dystopian zombie world of Walking Dead seem almost quaint. The writers of this show brilliant use of symbolism and imagery captures the violent, chaotic, inhumane, darkening, brutal world we inhabit as the Fourth Turning crisis period we entered in 2008 deepens on a daily basis. There is a good reason why the first episode of their fifth season drew the biggest cable TV audience in history. The show is clearly tapping into the mood of the masses. Early in the latest episode you realize Terminus has become a processing center run by cannibals. The line between victim and criminal, killer and prey, good and evil, madness and sanity, and moral and immoral is blurred. Everything is relative in the post-pandemic world of the Walking Dead.
Seeing Wall Street cannibals walk away unscathed after devouring the worldwide economic system in 2008 with their fraudulent financial schemes, corrupt politicians enriched by throwing taxpayers under the bus, militarized police forces trampling the Fourth Amendment, the NSA spying on every American, a private central bank enriching their owners by funneling trillions into their bank vaults, a president trampling on the Constitution by issuing executive orders to bypass the other branches of government, and billions of welfare and tax fraud from the urban ghettos to the penthouse suites in NYC, has convinced a large swath of Americans that everything is relative and nothing matters in our warped dystopian world. Right and wrong no longer matter. Morality is an antiquated concept. Adhering to the Constitution is an outmoded notion. Our society celebrates and condones our dog eat dog economic paradigm. Or zombie eats anything world in the case of Walking Dead.
The Terminus complex is reminiscent of the concentration camp in Schindler’s List. It is complete with railroad cars to hold the prisoners, gates with barbed wire, armed guards, and extermination facilities to “process” the prisoners. Thick black smoke belches into the air. There is a room stacked full of booty, teddy bears, watches, clothes – everything except the gold fillings. The Nazi like precision and attention to detail is reflected in the almost business-like method in which the Terminus administrators go about gutting their prey. The bone chilling efficiency and antiseptic processing facility evoke memories of the holocaust gas chambers. The opening sequence when Rick, Daryl, Glenn and Bob are among a group of men lined up to be gutted like pigs over a trough in place to collect their spilled blood, might have been the most brutal scene ever put on non-premium cable TV.
The callous and dispassionate way in which the prisoners (cattle) are lined up in front of a stainless steel trough is disconcerting and bone chilling. The victims are hit with a baseball bat and then their throats are slit over the trough by men in protective suits. They have become nothing but cattle to be butchered and consumed by the Terminus cannibals. You see another part of the processing plant where human remains are hanging from hooks like sides of beef. Gareth, the leader of Terminus, supervises the operation like a CEO, berating the butchers for not meeting quotas and following standard operating procedures. Not much different than how our mega-corporations are run today.
The other fascinating similarity between the dystopian “nightmare of want” setting of Terminus and our modern day dystopian “empire of excess” is the use of false advertising and propaganda to lure “customers” into their web. Their version of billboard advertising has plywood with the hand written messages of “Sanctuary for All”, “Community for All”, and “Those Who Arrive Survive”. The Terminus cannibals would have fit in well on Madison Avenue with the highly paid spin artists, propagandists, and whores for the corporate oligarchs.
The signs along train tracks and radio transmissions from a call center like facility showed the calculated business-like efficiency of the cannibals in systematically and methodically luring victims to their slaughterhouse. It is the same techniques used by the apostles of Edward Bernays to consciously and intelligently manipulate the habits, opinions, tastes, ideas and actions of the masses, in order to control and influence their buying habits, voting decisions, and support of their rulers. The unseen men who constitute the “invisible government” use these techniques to keep the cattle docile, fed, and ignorant, as they are led to slaughter.
The government and lack thereof is always lurking in the murky background of how and why the United States has devolved into an infected world of the walking dead. This episode provided some clues about government labs producing viruses as weapons to be used against some unexplained enemy. The insinuation is that the government somehow lost control of the virus and the ensuing pandemic destroyed our modern world and left the survivors to battle the biters and each other for the remaining scraps. The Federal government caused the societal collapse and is nowhere to be found in rebuilding the nation.
It is unclear how the apocalypse went down, but you can assume it began with fear, which led to panic, chaos, economic collapse, violent upheaval, war, and total breakdown of governmental authority and control. It is ironic that today fear of a worldwide ebola pandemic is coinciding with an inevitable economic implosion, wars raging in te Middle East, violent protests raging around the globe, and trust in governmental authority plunging to all-time lows. The Walking Dead has wittingly or unwittingly captured the ambiance of our turbulent times.
When you are faced with desperate circumstances you can either do whatever you need to survive or you can submissively accept your fate and die. Gareth and his cannibalistic cohorts had been in the same situation as Rick and his posse, but they had somehow turned the tables on their captors. Gareth’s survival of the fittest creed was “either you’re the butcher or you’re the cattle”. Human beings react to intense pressure and life threatening situations in different ways. Some people snap and turn into monsters, like Gareth. Some people snap and lose their minds. Others, like Rick and Carol, summon an inner strength to do whatever it takes to survive while barely maintaining their humanity. Others turn into blind followers of a strong forceful leader, not questioning the morality, legality or humanity of what they are ordered to do. The line between right and wrong, necessary versus unnecessary, vengeance versus justice, and butcher versus cattle is blurred in a world without rules, government or accepted norms.
I believe the “butcher or cattle” analogy is sadly a valid meme for the world we currently inhabit. In the Walking Dead world, individuals must choose to be butcher or cattle. It’s a Darwinian world of kill or be killed. Like minded individuals with common values and goals form communities to protect themselves, provide for themselves, and attempt to bring a semblance of order in a chaotic world. The community of Westbury, led by the governor and the community of Terminus, led by Gareth, are founded upon a foundation of evil and ultimately destroyed. Rick’s community of liberty minded freedom fighters do whatever is necessary to survive, but retain their humanity, decency and desire to create a better world.
Our present day world may not be as brutish as the Walking Dead world, though the line between reality and fiction is often indistinguishable when you turn on the news, but the distinction between butchers and cattle is clear. The elected and non-elected rulers of the deep state are the butchers, sending young men off to die for oil companies and arms dealers, impoverishing the masses through inflation and their control of the currency, and enriching themselves through their complete control of the political, financial, judicial, and economic systems. This establishment, or invisible government as Bernays described, is committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. Its scope, financial resources, and global reach put it in a predator class all by itself.
The common people are the cattle being led to slaughter. We are kept docile with incessant propaganda from the mainstream media; marketing messages to consume from Madison Avenue; filtered, adjusted, manipulated economic data fed to us by government agencies; an endless supply of iGadgets and other electronic distractions; government education designed to keep us ignorant; 24/7 reality TV on six hundred stations to keep us entertained; corporate toxic processed food to keep us obese and tame; and an endless supply of Wall Street supplied debt to keep us caged in our pens with no hope of escape. The butchers of the deep state have maintained control for decades, but we’re entering a new era.
Fourth Turnings result in the tables being turned on the butchers. Some cattle are awakening from their stupor. They can see the bloody writing on the slaughterhouse wall. Anyone who isn’t sensing a dramatic mood change in this country is either a mindless zombie or a functionary of the deep state. The financial shenanigans of the ruling class are again being revealed as nothing but a Ponzi scheme built on a foundation of debt and propped up by delusions and ignorance. When the house of cards collapses in the near future, the tables will turn. When people have nothing left to lose, they will lose it. The butchers will become the cattle. There will be no sanctuary for these evil men. Their reign of terror will be swept away in a whirlwind of retribution, death and destruction. It might even make the Walking Dead look like a walk in the park.
Neoliberalism doesn’t bring people together, but divides them, by destroying the bonds of solidarity. People did feel solidarity with others throughout the United Kingdom in the past - but these bonds have been loosened as our economic system has changed and we‘ve been encouraged to become more individualistic.
A wise old ‘One Nation' Tory, Sir Ian Gilmour, a consistent critic of Thatcherism, put it beautifully in his book 'Inside Right':
“If people are not to be seduced by other attractions they must at least feel loyalty to the State. This loyalty will not be deep unless they gain from the State protection and other benefits…Economic liberalism because of its starkness and its failure to create a sense of community is likely to repel people from the rest of liberalism.”
Today, it’s clear that many Scots believe that a return to the politics of solidarity will best be achieved by voting ‘Yes’ and leaving the United Kingdom. Perhaps they’re right. Perhaps they’re wrong. But it's important to understand why so many people in Scotland feel this way. It’s a huge mistake to believe that everyone who is planning to vote ‘Yes’ on Thursday is an SNP supporter, or sees themselves as a Scottish nationalist.
The Institute for New Economic Thinking
In the wake of World War II, much of the western world, particularly the United States, adopted a new form of capitalism called “managerial welfare-state capitalism.”
The system by design constrained financial institutions with significant social welfare reforms and large oligopolistic corporations that financed investment primarily out of retained earnings. Private sector debt was small, but government debt left over from financing the War was large, providing safe assets for households, firms, and banks. The structure of this system was financially robust and unlikely to generate a deep recession. However, the constraints within the system didn’t hold.
The relative stability of the first few decades after WWII encouraged ever-greater risk-taking, and over time the financial system was transformed into our modern overly financialized economy. Today, the dominant financial players are “managed money” — lightly regulated “shadow banks” like pension funds, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, and university endowments—with huge pools of capital in search of the highest returns. In turn, innovations by financial engineers have encouraged the growth of private debt relative to income and the increased reliance on volatile short-term finance and massive uses of leverage.
What are the implications of this financialization on the modern global economy? According to Adair Lord Turner, a Senior Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking and a former head of the United Kingdom’s Financial Services Authority, it means that finance has become central to the daily operations of the economic system. More precisely, the private nonfinancial sectors of the economy have become more dependent on the smooth functioning of the financial sector in order to maintain the liquidity and solvency of their balance sheets and to improve and maintain their economic welfare. For example, households have increased their use of debt to fund education, healthcare, housing, transportation, and leisure. And at the same time, they have become more dependent on interest, dividends, and capital gains as a means to maintain and improve their standard of living.
Another major consequence of financialized economies is that they typically generate repeated financial bubbles and major debt overhangs, the aftermath of which tends to exacerbate inequality and retard economic growth. Booms turn to busts, distressed sellers sell their assets to the beneficiaries of the previous bubble, and income inequality expands.
In the view of Lord Turner, we have yet to come up with a sufficiently robust policy response to deal with the consequences of our new “money manager capitalism.” The upshot likely will be years more of economic stagnation and deteriorating living standards for many people around the world.
Many people believe that great crimes come from terrible ideas: Marxism, racism and Islamic fundamentalism gave us the Gulag, Auschwitz and 9/11. It was the singular achievement of Eichmann in Jerusalem, however, to remind us that the worst atrocities often arise from the simplest of vices. And few vices, in Arendt’s mind, were more vicious than careerism. ‘The East is a career,’ Disraeli wrote. And so was the Holocaust, according to Arendt. ‘What for Eichmann was a job, with its daily routine, its ups and downs, was for the Jews quite literally the end of the world.’ Genocide, she insisted, is work. If it is to be done, people must be hired and paid; if it is to be done well, they must be supervised and promoted.
Eichmann was a careerist of the first order. He had ‘no motives at all’, Arendt insisted, ‘except for an extraordinary diligence in looking out for his personal advancement’. He joined the Nazis because he saw in them an opportunity to ‘start from scratch and still make a career’, and ‘what he fervently believed in up to the end was success.’ Late in the war, as Nazi leaders brooded in Berlin over their impending fate and that of Germany, Eichmann was fretting over superiors’ refusing to invite him to lunch. Years later, he had no memory of the Wannsee Conference, but clearly remembered bowling with senior officials in Slovakia.
This aspect of Arendt’s treatment of Eichmann is often overlooked in favour of her account of the bureaucrat, the thoughtless follower of rules who could cite the letter of Kant’s categorical imperative without apprehending its spirit. The bureaucrat is a passive instrument, the careerist an architect of his own advance. The first loses himself in paper, the second hoists himself up a ladder. The first was how Eichmann saw himself; the second is how Arendt insisted he be seen.
Most modern theorists, from Montesquieu to the American Framers to Hayek, have considered ambition and careerism to be checks against, rather than conduits of, oppression and tyranny. Arendt’s account of totalitarianism, too, makes it difficult to see how a careerist could survive or prosper among Nazis and Stalinists. Totalitarianism, she argued, appeals to people who no longer care about their lives, much less their careers, and destroys individuals who do. It preys on the dissolution of class structures and established hierarchies – or dissolves those that remain – and replaces them with a shapeless mass movement and a bureaucracy that resembles an onion more than a pyramid.
The main reason for the contemporary evasion of Arendt’s critique of careerism, however, is that addressing it would force a confrontation with the dominant ethos of our time. In an era when capitalism is assumed to be not only efficient but also a source of freedom, the careerist seems like the agent of an easy-going tolerance and pluralism. Unlike the ideologue, whose great sin is to think too much and want too much from politics, the careerist is a genial caretaker of himself. He prefers the marketplace to the corridors of state power. He is realistic and pragmatic, not utopian or fanatic. That careerism may be as lethal as idealism, that ambition is an adjunct of barbarism, that some of the worst crimes are the result of ordinary vices rather than extraordinary ideas: these are the implications of Eichmann in Jerusalem that neo-cons and neoliberals alike find too troubling to acknowledge.
- Neoliberalism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- The Clash of Islam and Liberalism
- CorpWatch - What is Neoliberalism-
- Neoliberalism- origins, theory, definition.
- naked capitalism- Henry Kaufman- Fed Failed as Regulator
- Corporatism, neoliberalism, and the failed revolt of big business ...
- The Genocidal Global Politics and Neoliberalism
- A Primer on Neoliberalism — Global Issues
- Neoliberal regime has failed, need to change course
- Introduction: The life course of the neoliberal project and the global Crisis, by Bastiaan van Apeldoorn and Henk Overbeekpalgrave.com
- Huevos Rancheros- Has neoliberalism failed Mexico-
- naked capitalism -- Hoisted From Comments -- Has Neo-Liberalism Failed Mexico
Neoliberalism and Christianity
- RDPulpit The Prophets of Neoliberalism (A)theologies Religion Dispatches
- Christianity and Neo-Liberalism The Spritiual Crisis in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Beyond Paul M. Elliott 97809409
- LIBERALISM AND NEO-ORTHODOXY
- Radical Covenant Jews, Christians and the Politics of Neo-Liberalism
- Christian Judgment on Neo-liberalism
Islam and neoliberalism
- cgu.edu WELLSPRINGS OF HOLY TERROR IN AN ERA OF GLOBALIZATION: NEO-LIBERALISM VERSUS ISLAMIC IDEAS IN THE MIDDLE EAST by Lewis W. Snider
- Modern Liberalism & Islam An Uncanny Resemblance
- Islam's Marriage With Neo Liberalism State Transformation in …
- Poverty and Neoliberalism Persistence and Reproduction in the Global South (Third World in Global Politics) Ray Bush
- The Endless Crisis How Monopoly-Finance Capital Produces Stagnation and Upheaval from the USA to China by John Bellamy Foster, Robert W. W. McChesney
- A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey
- The Strange Non-death of Neo-liberalism by Colin Crouch
- The Making of Global Capitalism by Sam Gindin, Leo Panitch
- The Crisis of Neoliberalism Gérard Duménil, Dominique Lévy
- Neoliberalism in Crisis - Google Books
- Documents in Financial Crisis of 2008-2009 - Academia.edu
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