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Definitions of neoliberalism

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

Introduction

Neoliberalism is difficult to define. First of all neoliberal governments usually are afraid to identify themselves as such and claim that they are "democratic". Similarly neoliberal press treat this term almost as a dirty word. In other words it is censored. You will not find any mention of the term of neoliberalism in CNN and rarely in Guardian.

In some sense neoliberalism is similar to Marxism. It is a kind of reverse-engineered Marxism that replaces proletariat with foanancial oligarchy as the ruling class of the future. Neoliberalims simply replaced the slogan of "proletarians of all nations unite" with the "financial oligarchy of all countries unite". It was hatched by a small tightly knit group of intellectuals of Mont Perelin society.  Neoliberaism borrows such tremendous amount of concepts from Marxism

From the other point of view neoliberal can be viewed as the "latter day Trotskyites" ("Permanent neoliberal revolution" mantra -- continuous efforts for enlargement of the US led global neoliberal empire.).  Another way to define it is as 'socialism for the rich and feudalism for the poor". In this since neoliberalism can be called "Trostyim for rich" -- one of the distinctive ideas of Trotskyism the idea of "permanent revolution" until global victory of communism is now implemented by neoliberals with a series of wares and color revolution. The goal is  creation of the global neoliberal empire led by the USA. They really want to bring neoliberalism everywhere even if this mean to bring it on the tips of bayonets. Like Bolsheviks they do not care about legitimacy -- they rely on the power  of the state to enforce market from above. In this  sense they are opposite to libertarians.

Neoliberalism like Marxism consists of several eclectic parts, such as neoclassic economics (with which as  Mirowski pointed out it does always agree) and mixture of Nietzscheanism (often in the form of Ann Rand philosophy; with the replacement of concept of Ubermench with "creative class" concept)) with corporatism as the  philosophical part of the ideology.  The cult of creative class we can call this version of  Nietzscheanism ) with very fuzzy definition of creative class which for some reason includes Wall Street speculators; this creative folk would be hanged in Victorian Great Britain)

Like with Marxism there are different flavors of neoliberalism and different factions like "soft neoliberalism" (Clinton "Third Way") which is the modern Democratic Party doctrine, and hard neoliberalism (The USA Republican Party version), often hostile to each other.

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

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

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

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

See also

Origins

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Definitions stemming from the concept of  "casino capitalism"
  2. Definitions stemming from the concept of Washington consensus
  3. Definitions stemming from the idea that Neoliberalism is Trotskyism for the rich. This idea has two major variations:
    • Definitions stemming from Professor Wendy Brown's  concept of Neoliberal rationality  which developed the concept of Inverted Totalitarism of Sheldon Wolin

The first two are the most popular.

Definitions stemming from the concept of "casino capitalism"

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

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

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

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

Definitions stemming from the concept of Washington consensus

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

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

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

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

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

    The main points of neo-liberalism include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were two major variation of this definition:

See Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich


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

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

Foreword

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adilya Chakrabortty

Senior Economics Commentator, The Guardian

Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEOLIBERALISM: DEAD OR ALIVE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Oct 16, 2017] Friedrich Von Hayek

Highly recommended!
Oct 16, 2017 | www.amazon.com

From The Limits of Neoliberalism Authority, Sovereignty and the Logic of Competition (Theory, Culture & Society) William Davies 9

Friedrich Von Hayek believed that the intellectual, political and organizational forces of liberalism began a downward trajectory around 1870 (Hayek, 1944:21). In place of the decentralized structure of the Victorian marketplace and British classical economics, came trends towards bureaucratization, management and the protection of the social' realm, all accompanied by a growing authority for German institutionalist and historicist ideas. By the 1940s this had reached the point of emergency. Having witnessed a financial crisis usher in Fascism, Keynesianism and then a world war, Hayek viewed the choices of political modernity in starkly binary terms:

We have in effect undertaken to dispense with the forces which produced unforeseen results and to replace the impersonal and anonymous mechanism of the market by collective and "conscious" direction of all social forces to deliberately chosen goals. (1944:21)

Reversing this trend would mean restoring the political authority of'impersonal' and 'anonymous' mechanisms, and of 'individual' and 'unconscious' forces in public life, which lack any 'deliberately chosen goals'. When Hayek looked back to the high period of British liberalism, what he mourned was a society that had no explicitly collective or public purpose, and whose direction could not be predicted or determined. The central function of markets in this nostalgic vision was to coordinate social activity without intervention by political authorities or conscious' cooperation by actors themselves. And if there were other ways of coordinating individuals unconscious goals, impersonally and anonymously, these might be equally welcome as markets. The virtue of markets, for Hayek, was their capacity to replace egalitarian and idealist concepts of the common good that he believed could lead to tyranny.

Hayek's thought is widely recognized to have played a key role in inspiring and co-ordinating the intellectual and political movement which came to be known as 'neoliberalism' (Mirowski & Plehwe, 2009; Stedman-Jones, 2012; Bergin, 2013). This movement achieved a number of significant political and policy victories from the late 1970s onwards, resulting in a roughly coherent paradigm that spread around the world over the subsequent thirty years. Its major crisis, if that is what it actually was, began in 2007, when it emerged that Western investment banks had drastically under-calculated the risks attached to the US housing market, the fall-out from which was a macro-economic stagnation more enduring than any since the 1880s. While the neoliberal policy era was punctuated by unusually frequent financial crises (Harvey, 2005), what was most significant about the 2007-09 banking crisis - in addition to its scale - was the fact that it originated in Wall Street, bringing vast fiscal and social costs to a nation that had played a key role in propagating neoliberal policies. But the fact that this policy paradigm appears largely intact, several years after the dawning of the financial crisis, is now an object of scholarly interest in its own right (Crouch, 2011; Engelen et aL, 2011; Mirowski, 2013).

Running in parallel to this economic breakdown was a series of events that raised widespread moral concerns about the coherence of key public institutions and society more generally. Britain, for example, saw a succession of disturbances, apparently affected by forms of hedonistic self-interest: in 2009 Members of Parliament were discovered to be routinely lying about their expenses in order to inflate their pay; in 2011 journalists were discovered to be engaged in the criminal hacking of phones, possibly beknown to the police; in August 2011 disparate riots erupted across English cities, featuring seemingly hedonistic acts of destruction and the widespread looting of branded goods, with scarce collective or political grievance; and in 2012 it emerged that individuals working in major high street banks had conspired to alter the 'LIBOR' rate, which dictates the price at which banks lend to each other, and influences the rate at which banks will lend to customers, and questions were raised as to whether government officials had actively encouraged this. These unconnected events seem to suggest a normative and political crisis, whereby the very possibility of deliberate collective action is thrown into question. A form of institutionalized anti-institutionalism seemed to have become established. The routine nature of so much of this activity made it impossible to dismiss as mere 'corruption or criminality! Meanwhile, concerns about the effects of consumerism! inequality and loneliness upon health and mental health (which in turn bring major economic costs) have begun to raise elite concerns about the sustainability of the contemporary political-economic model (Davies, 2011a). 'Epidemics' of depression, anxiety, obesity and addictive behaviour register as an indictment on societies that have made calculated self-interest and competitiveness tacitly constitutional principles (Davies, 2012).

The inability to achieve a new political settlement or new economic paradigm is by some measures a testimony to the success of the neoliberal project. Hayek's complaint could now even be reversed: we have in effect undertaken to dispense with the forces which produced foreseen results and to replace the collective and 'conscious direction of all social forces towards deliberately chosen goals by the impersonal and anonymous mechanism of the market (or market-like behaviour). Having consciously opened ourselves up to spontaneous and uncertain processes, we are now unable to escape from them again. The powerlessness of political or moral authorities to shape or direct society differently demonstrates how far the neoliberal critique of economic planning has permeated. Whether Hayek would have still trusted 'unconscious social forces, when confronted with the libidinous, destructive rush of contemporary consumerism and financialization, is another question. The framing of neoliberal crises - including financial crises - in psychological and neurological terms (discussed in Chapter 5) can be seen partly as a last ditch effort to distinguish which 'unconscious' forces are to be trusted and which ones are not.

Defining neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is clearly not a unified doctrine to the extent that Keynesianism is. While Hayek is one of the obvious figureheads of the neoliberal 'thought collective (Mirowski & Plehwe, 2009) his work is at odds with many other neoliberal forms of policy and governance. The origins of the neoliberal movement can be traced to the contributions of Hayek and Ludwig Von Mises to the 'socialist calculation debate of the 1920s and 1930s (Mises, 1990; Hayek, 2009). The intellectual project of reinventing liberalism was scattered between London, New York, Chicago, Freiburg and Vienna, up until the 1970s (Peck, 2010). The application and adaptation of these ideas spread no less haphazardly, serving various masters as they w r ent. But what, I suggest, is the common thread in all of this - and what makes the term 'neoliberalism' a necessary one - is an attempt to replace political judgement with economic evaluation, including, but not exclusively, the evaluations offered by markets. Of course, both political and economic logics are plural and heterogeneous. But the central defining characteristic of all neoliberal critique is its hostility to the ambiguity of political discourse, and a commitment to the explicitness and transparency of quantitative, economic indicators, of which the market price system is the model. Neoliberalism is the pursuit of the disenchantment of politics by economics.

The language of politics, unlike the language of economics, has a self-consciously performative dimension. It is used with a public in mind, and an awareness that the members and perspectives contained in that public are plural and uncertain. The praxis and aesthetics of discourse are acknowledged in what we consider to be 'political' situations. These include legal process, in which text and speech resonate in public settings, and seek to do something as much as represent something. This doesn't mean that economics as a discipline is not performative, requires no public or has no praxis. On the contrary, a great deal of recent scholarship has demonstrated that economics is often powerfully performative (Callon, 1998; Mitchell, 2002; MacKen/.ie, 2006; MacKenzie et al., 2007) and employs political rhetorics (McCloskey, 1985). Quantification and measurement have their own affective and aesthetic qualities (Porter, 1995), but the example of market price indicates to an economic sensibility that ambiguity and performativity can be beneficially minimized or constrained. From a neoliberal perspective, price provides a logical and phenomenological ideal of how human relations can be mediated without the need for rhetorical, ritualized or deliberately performative modes of communication. Indeed, price may even suggest that peaceful human interaction is feasible without speech at all. The reduction of complex and uncertain situations to a single number, as achieved by a market, appears as a route out of the hermeneutic pluralism and associated dangers of politics. Whether generated by markets or by economics, a price is an example of what Poovey terms the 'modern fact', a simple 'preinterpretive' or 'noninterpretive' representation of a state of affairs (Poovey, 1998).

If today politics and public institutions appear to have disintegrated into merely calculated and strategic behaviour, one response would be to view this as a sideeffect of 'modernity' or 'advanced capitalism' or plain 'greed'. But perhaps a more fruitful one would be to examine this as a self-conscious project of rationalization on the part of intellectuals and policy elites. The disenchantment of politics by economics involves a deconstruction of the language of the 'common good' or the 'public', which is accused of a potentially dangerous mysticism. In the first instance, as manifest in the work of Mises and Hayek, this is an attack on socialism and the types of state expertise that enact it, but it is equally apparent in a critique of the liberal idea of justice, as in the work of Richard Posner and others. With some reservations, it is also manifest as a critique of executive political authority which is contrasted unfavourably with the economically rational authority of the manager. The targets of neoliberal critique are institutionally and ontologically various, which elicits different styles of critique. In each case, substantive claims about political authority and the public are critically dismantled and replaced with technical economic substitutes. These substitutes may need to be invented from scratch, hence the constructivist and often experimental dimensions of neoliberalism, a selection of which will be explored in detail in subsequent chapters.

As the more observant critics of neoliberalism have noted, it did not, therefore, seek or achieve a shrinking of the state, but a re-imagining and transformation of it (Peck, 2010; Mirowski, 2013). In the seventy years separating the golden age of Victorian liberalism and the intellectual birth of neoliberalism, the character of the state and of capitalism had changed markedly. The rise of American and German industrial capitalism had been achieved thanks to new economies of scale and organizational efficiencies associated with large corporations and hierarchical structures, including the birth of management (Chandler, 1977; Arrighi, 2009). Science and expertise were now formally channelled into business. Technical advancements in the fields of statistics and national accounts, followed by the birth of macroeconomics in the 1930s, meant that 'the economy' had appeared as a complex object of political management (Mitchell, 1998; Suzuki, 2003). And the on-going growth of a 'social' realm, measured and governed by sociology, social statistics, social policy and professions, meant that the American and European states of the 1930s had far more extensive capacities and responsibilities for audit and intervention than the British liberal state of the 1860s (Donzelot, 1991; Desrosieres, 1998).

The pragmatism of the neoliberal pioneers prevented them from proposing a romantic return to a halcyon age of classical liberalism, instead committing them to a reinvention of liberalism suitable for a more complex, regulated, Eordist capitalism. Hayek believed that 'the fundamental principle that in the ordering of our affairs we should make as much use as possible of the spontaneous forces of society, and resort as little as possible to coercion, is capable of an infinite variety of applications' (1944: 17). Victorian laissez-faire was only one empirical manifestation of the liberal idea. Restoring economic freedom would not be achieved simply through withdrawing the state from 'the market', but through active policy interventions, to remould institutions, state agencies and individuals, in ways that were compatible with a market ethos (however defined) and were amenable to economic measurement. The state is therefore a powerful instrument of neoliberalism, though also an object of its constant critique; this is one of many contradictions of neoliberalism, and one which has been raised to new heights since the banking crises of 2007-09.

Hayek's own interpretations of both liberalism and the political public sphere were highly idiosyncratic. Liberalism is associated primarily with the uncertainty of outcomes. Freedom, by this account, requires ignorance of the future, and the preservation of freedom requires a dogmatic agnosticism on the part of public institutions. 1 By contrast, political activity is interpreted as a project of determining outcomes and reducing uncertainty. At least in the modern era, politics is viewed as an instrument of planning and the pursuit of certainty, though this is concealed by the deceptive nature of political language. This pessimistic view directly inverts the (equally pessimistic) perspective of Hannah Arendt, for example, who saw liberal governance of the economic and 'social' realm as a poor, expertly managed substitute for the inherent uncertainty and vitality of political action (Arendt, 1958). Both positions celebrate, and arguably romanticize, uncertainty, but see its rationalist enemies in different places - the Hayekian neoliberal fears the politician, while the Arendtian political actor fears the economist.

Most analyses of neoliberalism have focused on its commitment to 'free markets, deregulation and trade. 1 shan't discuss the validity of these portrayals here, although some have undoubtedly exaggerated the similarities between 'classical' nineteenth-century liberalism and twentieth-century neoliberalism. The topic addressed here is a different one - the character of neoliberal authority, on what basis does the neoliberal state demand the right to be obeyed, if not on substantive political grounds? To a large extent, it is on the basis of particular economic claims and rationalities, constructed and propagated by economic experts. The state does not necessarily (or at least, not always) cede power to markets, but comes to justify its decisions, policies and rules in terms that are commensurable with the logic of markets. Neoliberalism might therefore be defined as the elevation of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms (Davies, 2013: 37). The authority of the neoliberal state is heavily dependent on the authority of economics (and economists) to dictate legitimate courses of action. Understanding that authority - and its present crisis - requires us to look at economics, economic policy experts and advisors as critical components of state institutions.

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

Jun 27, 2017 | off-guardian.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cult of evaluation

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

There is no alternative."

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

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

The neglect of justice

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

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

A caste above the Many

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

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

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

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

The security ideal

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

Salvation in commitment

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

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

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

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

rogerglewis says May 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let my try.

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

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

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

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

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

The main points of neoliberal ideology include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5.Competitive exchange rates;

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

7.Liberalization of inward foreign direct investment;

8.Privatization of state enterprises;

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

10.Legal security for property rights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Is liberalism to blame? by Branko Milanovic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They are not correct about mysterious elites controlling things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • ethnic nationalism (old-style), where the "ethnicity" is the defining feature of belonging to the "in-group"
  • cultural nationalism (new style), where the defining traits of belonging to the "in-group" is the language and culture, not ethnicity.

As for your statement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

== quote ==

The main points of neo-liberalism include:

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

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

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

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

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

== end of quote ==

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is not news that replacements for the Taliban and the Baath regimes need not be rights-based, formally egalitarian, representative, or otherwise substantively democratic in order to serve the purposes of global capitalism or the particular geopolitical interests of the United States. Nor is it news that the replacements of these regimes need not be administered by the Afghans or Iraqis themselves to satisfy American and global capitalist purposes and interests, though the residues of old-fashioned democracy inside the legitimation project of neoliberalism make even puppet or faux rule by an appointed governing council, or by officials elected in severely compromised election conditions, ideologically preferable to full-fledged directorship by the American occupation. What is striking, however, is the boldness of a raw market approach to political problem solving, the extent to which radical privatization schemes and a flourishing market economy built on foreign investment are offered not simply as the path to democracy but as the name and the measure of democracy in these nations, a naming and measuring first appearing in post-1989 Eastern Europe a decade earlier. Not only are democratic institutions largely irrelevant- and at times even impediments-to neoliberal governmentality, but the success of such governmentality does not depend on the question of whether it is locally administered or externally imposed.

Market rationality knows no culture or country, and administrators are, as the economists say, fungible. Indeed, at this juncture in the displacement of liberal democracy by neoliberal governmentality, the question is how much legitimacy neoliberal governance requires from a democratic vocabulary-how much does neoliberalism have to cloak itself in liberal democratic discourse and work with liberal democratic institutions? This is less a theoretical than a historical-empirical question about how deeply and extensively neoliberal rationality has taken hold as ideology, that is, how much and where neoliberal governance can legitimate itself in its own terms, without borrowing from other discourses. (Neoliberalism can become dominant as governmentality without being dominant as ideology-the former refers to governing practices and the latter to a popular order of belief that may or may not be fully in line with the former, and that may even be a site of resistance to it.)

Clearly, a rhetoric of democracy and the shell of liberal democratic institutions remain more important in the imperial heartland than in recently "liberated" or conquered societies with few if any democratic traditions of legitimacy. However, the fact that George W. Bush retains the support of the majority of the American people, despite his open flaunting of democratic principles amid a failing economy and despite, too, evidence that the public justification for invading Iraq relied on cooked intelligence, suggests that neoliberalism has taken deep hold in the homeland. Particularly striking is the number of pundits who have characterized this willful deceit of the people as necessary rather than criminal, as a means to a rational end, thereby reminding us that one of the more dangerous features of neoliberal evisceration of a non-market morality lies in undercutting the basis for judging government actions by any criteria other than expedience.13

Just as neoliberal governmentality reduces the tension historically borne by the state between democratic values and the needs of capital as it openly weds the state to capital and resignifies democracy as ubiquitous entrepreneurialism, so neoliberalism also smooths an old wrinkle in the fabric of liberal democratic foreign policy between domestic political values and international interests. During the cold war, political progressives could use American sanctimony about democracy to condemn international actions that propped up or installed authoritarian regimes and overthrew popularly elected leaders in the Third World. The divergence between strategic international interests and democratic ideology produced a potential legitimation problem for foreign policy, especially as applied to Southeast Asia and Central and Latin America. Neoliberalism, by redefining democracy as thoroughgoing market rationality in state and society, a redefinition abetted by the postcommunist "democratization" process in Eastern Europe, largely eliminates that problem.

Certainly human rights talk is ubiquitous in global democracy discourse, but not since Jimmy Carter's ill-fated efforts to make human rights a substantive dimension of foreign policy have they served as more than window dressing for neoliberal adventures in democracy. Mourning Liberal Democracy An assault on liberal democratic values and institutions has been plainly evident in recent events: civil liberties undermined by the USA Patriot Acts and the Total Information Awareness (later renamed Total Terror Awareness) scheme, Oakland police shooting wood and rubber bullets at peaceful antiwar protesters, a proposed Oregon law to punish all civil disobedience as terrorism (replete with twenty five-year jail terms), and McCarthyite deployments of patriotism to suppress ordinary dissent and its iconography. It is evident as well in the staging of aggressive imperial wars and ensuing occupations along with the continued dismantling of the welfare state and the progressive taxation schemes already diluted by the Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations. It has been more subtly apparent in "softer" events, such as the de-funding of public education that led eighty four Oregon school districts to sheer almost a month off the school year in spring 2003 and delivered provisional pink slips to thousands of California teachers at the end of the 2002–03 academic year.14 Or consider the debate about whether antiwar protests constituted unacceptable costs for a financially strapped cities-even many critics of current U.S. foreign policy expressed anger at peaceful civil disobedients over the expense and disruption they caused, implying that the value of public opinion and protest should be measured against its dollar cost.15

Together these phenomena suggest a transformation of American liberal democracy into a political and social form for which we do not yet have a name, a form organized by a combination of neoliberal governmentality and imperial world politics, shaped in the short run by global economic and security crises. They indicate a form in which an imperial agenda is able to take hold precisely because the domestic soil has been loosened for it by neoliberal rationality.

This form is not fascism or totalitarian as we have known them historically, nor are these labels likely to prove helpful in identifying or criticizing it.16 Rather, this is a political condition in which the substance of many of the significant features of constitutional and representative democracy have been gutted, jettisoned, or end-run, even as they continue to be promulgated ideologically, serving as a foil and shield for their undoing and for the doing of death elsewhere. These features include civil liberties equally distributed and protected; a press and other journalistic media minimally free from corporate ownership on one side and state control on the other; uncorrupted and unbought elections; quality public education oriented, inter alia, to producing the literacies relevant to informed and active citizenship; government openness, honesty, and accountability; a judiciary modestly insulated from political and commercial influence; separation of church and state; and a foreign policy guided at least in part by the rationale of protecting these domestic values. None of these constitutive elements of liberal democracy was ever fully realized in its short history-they have always been compromised by a variety of economic and social powers, from white supremacy to capitalism.

And liberal democracies in the First World have always required other peoples to pay-politically, socially, and economically-for what these societies have enjoyed; that is, there has always been a colonially and imperially inflected gap between what has been valued in the core and what has been required from the periphery. So it is important to be precise here. Ours is not the first time in which elections have been bought, manipulated, and even engineered by the courts, the first time the press has been slavish to state and corporate power, the first time the United States has launched an aggressive assault on a sovereign nation or threatened the entire world with its own weapons of mass destruction. What is unprecedented about this time is the extent to which basic principles and institutions of democracy are becoming nothing other than ideological shells concealing their opposite as well as the extent to which these principles and institutions even as values are being abandoned by large parts of the American population.

Elements in this transformation include the development of the most secretive government in fifty years (the gutting of the Freedom of Information Act was one of the quiet early accomplishments of the G. W. Bush administration, the "classified" status of its more than 1,000 contracts with Halliburton one of its more recent); the plumping of corporate wealth combined with the reduction of social spending for limiting the economic vulnerability of the poor and middle classes; a bought, consolidated, and muffled press that willingly cooperates in its servitude (emblematic in this regard is the Judith Miller (non)scandal, in which the star New York Times journalist wittingly reported Pentagon propaganda about Iraqi WMDs as journalistically discovered fact); and intensified policing in every corner of American life- airports, university admissions offices, mosques, libraries, workplaces- a policing undertaken both by official agents of the state and by an interpellated citizenry.

A potentially permanent "state of emergency" combined with an infinitely expandable rhetoric of patriotism overtly legitimates undercutting the Bill of Rights and legitimates as well abrogation of conventional democratic principles in setting foreign policy, principles that include respect for nation-state sovereignty and reasoned justifications for war. But behind these rhetorics there is another layer of discourse facilitating the dismantling of liberal democratic institutions and practices: a governmentality of neoliberalism that eviscerates nonmarket morality and thus erodes the root of democracy in principle at the same time that it raises the status of profit and expediency as the criteria for policy making.

There is much that is disturbing in the emergence of neoliberal governmentality and a great deal more work to do in theorizing its contribution to the organization and possibilities in current and future political life in the United States. In particular, as I suggested at the outset of this essay, filling in the contemporary political picture would require mapping the convergences and tensions between a (nonpartisan) neoliberal governmentality on the one hand and the specific agendas of Clintonian centrists and Reagan-Bush neoconservatives on the other. It would require exploring the continued efficacy of political rhetorics of morality and principle as neoliberalism voids the substance of and undercuts the need for extramarket morality. It would require discerning what distinguishes neoliberal governmentality from old-fashioned corporatism and old-fashioned political realism. It would require examining the contradictory political imperatives delivered by the market and set as well by the tensions between nationstate interests and globalized capitalism indifferent to states and sovereignty. And it would require examining the points at which U.S. imperial policies converge with and diverge from or even conflict with neoliberal governmentality.

By way of conclusion, however, I leave aside these questions to reflect briefly on the implications for the Left of neoliberalism's erosion of liberal democracy. While leftists of the past quarter century were rarely as antagonistic to liberal democracy as the Old Left, neither did we fully embrace it; at times we resented and railed against it, and certainly we harbored an aim to transform it into something else-social democracy or some form of radical democracy. So the Left is losing something it never loved, or at best was highly ambivalent about. We are also losing a site of criticism and political agitation-we criticized liberal democracy not only for its hypocrisy and ideological trickery but also for its institutional and rhetorical embedding of bourgeois, white, masculinist, and heterosexual superordination at the heart of humanism. Whatever loose identity we had as a Left took shape in terms of a differentiation from liberalism's willful obliviousness to social stratification and injury that were glossed and hence secured by its formal juridical categories of liberty and equality.

Still, liberalism, as Gayatri Spivak once wrote in a very different context, is also that which one "cannot not want" (given the other historical possibilities, given the current historical meaning of its deprivation). Even here, though, the desire is framed as roundabout and against itself, as Spivak's artful double negative indicates. It indicates a dependency we are not altogether happy about, an organization of desire we wish were otherwise. What might be the psychic/social/intellectual implications for leftists of losing this vexed object of attachment? What are the possible trajectories for a melancholic incorporation of that toward which one is openly ambivalent; or perhaps even hostile, resentful, rebellious?

Freud posits melancholy as occasioned by ambivalence, though the ambivalence may be more unconsciously sustained than I am suggesting is the case for the Left's relationship to liberal democracy. More precisely, Freud's focus in theorizing melancholy is love that does not know or want to avow its hostility, whereas the task before us is to consider hostility that does not know or want to avow its love or dependency. Still, Freud's thinking about melancholia remains useful here as a theory of loss amid ambivalent attachment and dependence and a theory of identity formation at the site of an ungrievable passion or attachment. It reminds us to consider how left melancholia about liberal democracy would not just be a problematic affect but would constitute a formation of the Left itself.

Incorporating the death of a loathed object to which one was nonetheless attached often takes the form of acting out the loathed qualities of the object. I once had an acquaintance whose muchdespised and abusive father died. While my friend overtly rejoiced at his passing, in the ensuing months she engaged in extraordinary outbursts of verbal and physical abuse toward friends and colleagues, even throwing things at them as she had described her father throwing household objects during her childhood. Another friend buried, after years of illness, a childish, hysterical, histrionic, and demanding mother, one who relentlessly produced herself as a victim amid her own aggressive demands. Relieved as my friend was to have done with this parent, what should emerge over the following year but exactly such tendencies in her own relationships? So this is one danger: that we would act out to keep alive those aspects of the political formation we are losing, that we would take up and perform liberal democracy's complacencies, cruelties, or duplicities, stage them in our own work and thinking. This behavior would issue in part from the need to preserve the left identity and project that took shape at the site of liberal democracy, and in part from ambivalence about liberal democracy itself. In response to the loss of an object both loved and loathed, in which only the loathing or contempt is avowed, melancholy sustains the loved object, and continues to provide a cover for the love-a continued means of disavowing it-by incorporating and performing the loathsomeness.

There are other ways ambivalently structured loss can take shape as melancholic, including the straightforward possibility of idealizing a lost object as it was never idealized when alive. Straightforward, perhaps, but not simple, for this affect also involves remorse for a past of not loving the object well enough and self-reproach for ever having wished for its death or replacement. As idealization fueled by guilt, this affect also entails heightened aggression toward challenges or challengers to the idealization. In this guilt, anxiety, and defensiveness over the loss of liberal democracy, we would feel compelled to defend basic principles of liberalism or simply defend liberalism as a whole in a liberal way, that is, we would give up being critical of liberalism and, in doing so, give up being left. Freud identifies this surrender of identity upon the death of an ambivalent object as the suicidal wish in melancholia,17 a wish abetted in our case by a more general disorientation about what the Left is or stands for today. Evidence for such a surrender in the present extends from our strikingly unnuanced defenses of free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties to the staging of antiwar protests as "patriotic" through the iconography of the American flag. Often explained as what the Left must do when public discourse moves rightward, such accounts presume a single political continuum, ranged from extreme left to extreme right, in which liberals and conservatives are nothing more than the moderate versions of the extremes (communists and fascists). Not only does the model of the continuum reduce the variety of political possibility in modernity to matters of degree rather than kind, it erases the distinctiveness of a left critique and vision. Just as today's neoliberals bear little in common with traditional conservatives, so the Left has traditionally stood for a set of values and possibilities qualitatively different from those of welfare state liberals. Times of alliance and spheres of overlap obviously exist, but a continuum does not capture the nature of these convergences and tactical linkages any better than it captures the differences between, for example, a liberal commitment to rights-based equality and a left commitment to emancipating the realm of production, or between a liberal enthusiasm for the welfare state and a left critique of its ideological and regulatory dimensions. So the idea that leftists must automatically defend liberal political values when they are on the ropes, while sensible from a liberal perspective, does not facilitate a left challenge to neoliberalism if the Left still wishes to advocate in the long run for something other than liberal democracy in a capitalist socioeconomic order.

Of course, there are aspects of liberal democracy that the Left has come to value and incorporate into its own vision of the good society-for example, an array of individual liberties that are largely unrelated to the freedom from domination promised by transforming the realm of production. But articulating this renewed left vision differs from defending civil liberties in liberal terms, a defense that itself erases a left project as it consigns it to something outside those terms. Similarly, patriotism and flag-waving are surely at odds with a left formulation of justice, even as love of America, represented through icons other than the flag or through narratives other than "supporting the troops," might well have a part in this formulation. Finally, not only does defending liberal democracy in liberal terms sacrifice a left vision, but this sacrifice discredits the Left by tacitly reducing it to nothing more than a permanent objection to the existing regime. It renders the Left a party of complaint rather than a party with an alternative political, social, and economic vision.

Still, if we are slipping from liberalism to fascism, and if radical democracy or socialism is nowhere on the political horizon, don't we have to defend liberal democratic institutions and values? Isn't this the lesson of Weimar? I have labored to suggest that this is not the right diagnosis of our predicament: it does not grasp what is at stake in neoliberal governmentality-which is not fascism-nor on what grounds it might be challenged. Indeed, the left defense of the welfare state in the 1980s, which seemed to stem from precisely such an analysis-"if we can't have socialism, at least we should preserve welfare state capitalism"-backfired from just such a misdiagnosis. On the one hand, rather than articulating an emancipatory vision that included the eradication rather than regulation of poverty, the Left appeared aligned with big government, big spending, and misplaced compassion for those construed as failing to give their lives proper entrepreneurial shape. On the other hand, the welfare state was dismantled on grounds that had almost nothing to do with the terms of liberal democracy and everything to do with neoliberal economic and political rationality. We are not simply in the throes of a right-wing or conservative positioning within liberal democracy but rather at the threshold of a different political formation, one that conducts and legitimates itself on different grounds from liberal democracy even as it does not immediately divest itself of the name. It is a formation that is developing a domestic imperium correlative with a global one, achieved through a secretive and remarkably agentic state; through corporatized media, schools, and prisons; and through a variety of technologies for intensified local administrative, regulatory, and police powers. It is a formation made possible by the production of citizens as individual entrepreneurial actors across all dimensions of their lives, by the reduction of civil society to a domain for exercising this entrepreneurship, and by the figuration of the state as a firm whose products are rational individual subjects, an expanding economy, national security, and global power.

This formation produces a twofold challenge for the Left. First, it compels us to consider the implications of losing liberal democracy and especially its implications for our own work by learning what the Left has depended on and demanded from liberal democracy, which aspects of it have formed the basis of our critiques of it, rebellions against it, and identity based on differentiation from it. We may also need to mourn liberal democracy, avowing our ambivalent attachment to it, our need for it, our mix of love and hostility toward it. The aim of this work is framed by the second challenge, that of devising intelligent left strategies for challenging the neoliberal political-economic formation now taking shape and an intelligent left countervision to this formation.

A half century ago, Marcuse argued that capitalism had eliminated a revolutionary subject (the proletariat) representing the negation of capitalism; consequently, he insisted, the Left had to derive and cultivate anticapitalist principles, possibilities, and agency from capitalism's constitutive outside. That is, the Left needed to tap the desires- not for wealth or goods but for beauty, love, mental and physical well-being, meaningful work, and peace-manifestly unmet within a capitalist order and to appeal to those desires as the basis for rejecting and replacing the order. No longer could economic contradictions of capitalism inherently fuel opposition to it; rather, opposition had to be founded in an alternative table of values. Today, the problem Marcuse diagnosed has expanded from capitalism to liberal democracy: oppositional consciousness cannot be generated from liberal democracy's false promises and hypocrisies. The space between liberal democratic ideals and lived realities has ceased to be exploitable, because liberal democracy itself is no longer the most salient discourse of political legitimacy and the good life. Put the other way around, the politically exploitable hollowness in formal promises of freedom and equality has largely vanished to the extent that both freedom and equality have been redefined by neoliberalism. Similarly, revealed connections between political and economic actors-not merely bought politicians but arrangements of mutual profiteering between corporate America and its political elite-do not incite outrage at malfeasance, corruption, or injustice but appear instead as a potentially rational set of linkages between state and economy.

Thus, from the "scandal" of Enron to the "scandal" of Vice President Cheney delivering Iraq to Halliburton to clean up and rebuild, there is no scandal. There is only market rationality, a rationality that can encompass even a modest amount of criminality but also treats close state-corporate ties as a potentially positive value-maximizing the aims of each-rather than as a conflict of interest. 18 Similarly, even as the Bush administration fails to come up with WMDs in Iraq and fails to be able to install order let alone democracy there, such deficiencies are irrelevant to the neoliberal criteria for success in that military episode. Indeed, even the scandal of Bush's installation as president by a politicized Supreme Court in 2000 was more or less ingested by the American people as business as usual, an ingestion that represents a shift from the expectation that the Supreme Court is independent of political influence to one that tacitly accepts its inclusion in the governmentality of neoliberalism. Similarly, John Poindexter, a key figure in the Iran-Contra affair and director of the proposed "Terrorism Information Awareness" program that would have put all Americans under surveillance, continued to have power and legitimacy at the Pentagon until the flap over the scheme to run a futures market on political violence in the Middle East. All three of these projects are instances of neoliberalism's indifference to democracy; only the last forced Poindexter into retirement.

These examples suggest that not only liberal democratic principles but democratic morality has been largely eviscerated-in neoliberal terms, each of these "scandals" is framed as a matter of miscalculation or political maneuvering rather than by right and wrong, truth or falsehood, institutional propriety or impropriety. Consequently, the Left cannot count on revealed deception, hypocrisies, interlocking directorates, featherbedding, or corruption to stir opposition to the existing regime. It cannot count on the expectation that moral principle undergirds political action or even on consistency as a value by which to judge state practices or aims. Much of the American public appeared indifferent to the fact that both the Afghan and Iraqi regimes targeted by Bush had previously been supported or even built by earlier U.S. foreign policy. It also appeared indifferent to the touting of the "liberation" of Afghan women as one of the great immediate achievements of the overthrow of the Taliban while the overthrow of the Baath regime set into motion an immediately more oppressive regime of gender in Iraq. The inconsistency does not matter much, because political reasons and reasoning that exceed or precede neoliberal criteria have ceased to matter much. This is serious political nihilism, which no mere defense of free speech and privacy, let alone securing the right to gay marriage or an increase in the minimum wage, will reverse. What remains for the Left, then, is to challenge emerging neoliberal governmentality in Euro-Atlantic states with an alternative vision of the good, one that rejects homo oeconomicus as the norm of the human and rejects this norm's correlative formations of economy, society, state, and (non)morality. In its barest form, this would be a vision in which justice would center not on maximizing individual wealth or rights but on developing and enhancing the capacity of citizens to share power and hence to collaboratively govern themselves. In such an order, rights and elections would be the background rather than token of democracy; or better, rights would function to safeguard the individual against radical democratic enthusiasms but would not themselves signal the presence or constitute the principle of democracy. Instead, a left vision of justice would focus on practices and institutions of popular power; a modestly egalitarian distribution of wealth and access to institutions; an incessant reckoning with all forms of power-social, economic, political, and even psychic; a long view of the fragility and finitude of nonhuman nature; and the importance of both meaningful activity and hospitable dwellings to human flourishing. However differently others might place the accent marks, none of these values can be derived from neoliberal rationality or meet neoliberal criteria for the good.

The drive to develop and promulgate such a counterrationality-a different figuration of human beings, citizenship, economic life, and the political-is critical both to the long labor of fashioning a more just future and to the immediate task of challenging the deadly policies of the imperial American state.

[Jan 08, 2017] Neoliberals are really Latter Date Trotskyites in most of their ideological postulates.

Jan 08, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Libezkova -> ilsm... January 07, 2017 at 12:43 PM , 2017 at 12:43 PM
ilsm,

"The MSM is building a case to do Putin like the one to do Assad."

I am not sure about that. I think this anti-Russian hysteria is mainly for internal consumption and designed to put a smoke screen of the problem of the US neoliberal society and increase the cohesion of population, which essentially rejected neoliberal elite during the recent elections.

The bout of McCarthyism that we observe now might also be an attempt to de-legitimize Trump presidency and to tie his hands. This Machiavellian trick with expulsion of diplomats that Nobel Peace Price winner played with Russians recently suggests the latter. Deep state that controls the US foreign policy feels the threat and reacts accordingly.

Too many people in Washington are "national security parasites" and are dependent of continuation of wars for the expansion of the US led global neoliberal empire.

Trump promised to drain the swamp, but he probably underestimated the level of resistance he will encounter. Just look at hissy fits that WaPo and NYT is still engaged it. They really behave like Putin agent is ascending into position of POTUS :-). The same is true of some commenters here.

They feel threatened by the rejection of their ideology and are ready to do purges in best Trotskyites tradition. As I mentioned before they are really "Latter Date Trotskyites" in most of their ideological postulates.

  1. Use of violence for the spread of the ideology. A totalitarian vision for a world-encompassing monolithic global state (US led neoliberal empire) governed by an ideologically charged "vanguard".
  2. Creation and maintenance of the illusion of "immanent threat" from powerful enemies for brainwashing the population (National Security State instead of "Dictatorship of proletariat").
  3. Purges of dissent via neo-McCarthyism tactics.
  4. The mantle of inevitability (famous TINA statement of Margaret Thatcher)
  5. The study of neoclassical economics as the key method of indoctrination of people with economists as a class of well paid priests of neoliberal ideology.
  6. War on, and brutal suppression of organized labor. While in Soviet Russia organized labor was emasculated and trade unions became part of government apparatus, under neoliberalism they are simply decimated. It "atomize" individual workers presenting them as goods on the "labor market" controlled by large corporations ( via the myth of human capital ). Neoliberals see the market as a semi-sacred element of human civilization. They want to create global labor market that favors transnational corporations. The idea of "employability" is characteristically neoliberal. It means that neoliberals see it as a moral duty of human beings, to arrange their lives to maximize their value on the labor market. Paying for plastic surgery to improve employability (almost entirely by women) is a typical neoliberal phenomenon -- one that would surprise Adam Smith.
  7. The pseudoscientific (or quasi-religious) myth of "free-market" (why not "fair"?). with neoclassical economy instead of "Marxist political economy" which provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and poverty endemic to the system. Set of powerful myths, which like in Marxism create a "secular religion". Such as on "Free Trade", "Invisible Hand Hypothesis", "Rational expectations" scam, "Shareholder value" scam, etc. Fake promises of prosperity, which are not unlike the rhetoric of the Communist Party of the USSR about "proletariat" as the ruling class to which all benefits belongs.
  8. Scapegoating and victimization of poor as new Untermensch. This is a part of Randism and is closely related to glorification of the "creative class".
  9. Rejection of the normal interpretation of the rule of the law and the idea of "neoliberal justice" (tough justice for Untermensch only).
  10. Cult of GDP. Like Marxism, neoliberalism reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance. It professes that GDP growth is the ultimate goal of any society. This is very similar to the USSR cult of gross national product.
Libezkova -> Libezkova... January 07, 2017 at 01:01 PM , 2017 at 01:01 PM
As Pope noted it is distinctly anti-Christian ideology, much like Trotskyism:

== quote ===
... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality.

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless.

As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a "disposable" culture which is now spreading.

It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society's underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the "exploited" but the outcast, the "leftovers".

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.

Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.

Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

ilsm -> Libezkova... , January 07, 2017 at 01:01 PM
Yes like Goring said at Nuremburg!

[Jan 07, 2017] Neoliberals are really Latter Date Trotskyites in most of their ideological postulates.

Jan 07, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Libezkova -> ilsm... January 07, 2017 at 12:43 PM , 2017 at 12:43 PM
ilsm,

"The MSM is building a case to do Putin like the one to do Assad."

I am not sure about that. I think this anti-Russian hysteria is mainly for internal consumption and designed to put a smoke screen of the problem of the US neoliberal society and increase the cohesion of population, which essentially rejected neoliberal elite during the recent elections.

The bout of McCarthyism that we observe now might also be an attempt to de-legitimize Trump presidency and to tie his hands. This Machiavellian trick with expulsion of diplomats that Nobel Peace Price winner played with Russians recently suggests the latter. Deep state that controls the US foreign policy feels the threat and reacts accordingly.

Too many people in Washington are "national security parasites" and are dependent of continuation of wars for the expansion of the US led global neoliberal empire.

Trump promised to drain the swamp, but he probably underestimated the level of resistance he will encounter.

Just look at hissy fits that WaPo and NYT is still engaged it. They really behave like Putin agent ascending into position of POTUS :-). The same is true of some commenters here.

They feel threatened by the rejection of their ideology and are ready to do purges in best Trotskyites tradition. As I mentioned before they are really "Latter Date Trotskyites" in most of their ideological postulates.

- Use of violence for the spread of the ideology. A totalitarian vision for a world-encompassing monolithic global state (US led neoliberal empire) governed by an ideologically charged "vanguard".

- Creation and maintenance of the illusion of "immanent threat" from powerful enemies for brainwashing the population (National Security State instead of "Dictatorship of proletariat").
- Purges of dissent via neo-McCarthyism tactics.

- The mantle of inevitability (famous TINA statement of Margaret Thatcher)

- The study of neoclassical economics as the key method of indoctrination of people with economists as a class of well paid priests of neoliberal ideology.

- War on, and brutal suppression of organized labor. While in Soviet Russia organized labor was emasculated and trade unions became part of government apparatus, under neoliberalism they are simply decimated. It "atomize" individual workers presenting them as goods on the "labor market" controlled by large corporations ( via the myth of human capital ). Economic fetishism. Neoliberals see the market as a semi-sacred element of human civilization. They want to create global labor market that favors transnational corporations. The idea of "employability" is characteristically neoliberal. It means that neoliberals see it as a moral duty of human beings, to arrange their lives to maximize their value on the labor market. Paying for plastic surgery to improve employability (almost entirely by women) is a typical neoliberal phenomenon -- one that would surprise Adam Smith.

- The pseudoscientific (or quasi-religious) myth of "free-market" (why not "fair"?). with neoclassical economy instead of "Marxist political economy" which provides a pseudo-scientific justification for the greed and poverty endemic to the system. Set of powerful myths, which like in Marxism create a "secular religion". Such as on "Free Trade", "Invisible Hand Hypothesis", "Rational expectations" scam, "Shareholder value" scam, etc. Fake promises of prosperity, which are not unlike the rhetoric of the Communist Party of the USSR about "proletariat" as the ruling class to which all benefits belongs.

- Scapegoating and victimization of poor as new Untermensch. This is a part of Randism and is closely related to glorification of the "creative class".

- Rejection of the normal interpretation of the rule of the law and the idea of "neoliberal justice" (tough justice for Untermensch only).

- Cult of GDP. Like Marxism, neoliberalism on the one hand this reduces individuals to statistics contained within aggregate economic performance. It professes that GDP growth is the ultimate goal of any society. This is very similar to the USSR cult of gross national product.

[Jan 07, 2017] Thatcherism represented a systematic, decisive rejection and reversal of the post-war consensus, whereby the major political parties largely agreed on the central themes of Keynesianism, the welfare state, nationalised industry, and close regulation of the economy

Notable quotes:
"... Not quite, they belong to different flavors of neoliberalism. As a politician Clinton was a "soft neoliberal", or "Third way" neoliberal. Not quite the same as Reagan who was closer to "hard neoliberalism", or Thatcherism -- "in your face" neoliberalism. They do not hide their principles and attitudes. ..."
"... Wikipedia: "Thatcherism represented a systematic, decisive rejection and reversal of the post-war consensus, whereby the major political parties largely agreed on the central themes of Keynesianism, the welfare state, nationalised industry, and close regulation of the economy" ..."
"... Clinton (like later Tony Blair) basically accepted the central postulates of neoliberalism such as globalization, deregulation, privatization, maintaining a flexible labor market by high unemployment, marginalizing the trade unions, but made his intentions hidden under the smoke screen ("I feel you pain"). Essentially he created the second major flavor of neoliberalism "soft neoliberalism", or neoliberal "wolf in sheep's clothing". ..."
Jan 07, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Libezkova -> kurt... , -1

"Krugman a neolib?"

that's true statement. He is. With penchant for mathiness and globalization. Although like any talented person sometimes he transcends this limitation and writes really good articles.

"Clinton a Reagan copy?"

Not quite, they belong to different flavors of neoliberalism. As a politician Clinton was a "soft neoliberal", or "Third way" neoliberal. Not quite the same as Reagan who was closer to "hard neoliberalism", or Thatcherism -- "in your face" neoliberalism. They do not hide their principles and attitudes.

Wikipedia: "Thatcherism represented a systematic, decisive rejection and reversal of the post-war consensus, whereby the major political parties largely agreed on the central themes of Keynesianism, the welfare state, nationalised industry, and close regulation of the economy"

Clinton (like later Tony Blair) basically accepted the central postulates of neoliberalism such as globalization, deregulation, privatization, maintaining a flexible labor market by high unemployment, marginalizing the trade unions, but made his intentions hidden under the smoke screen ("I feel you pain"). Essentially he created the second major flavor of neoliberalism "soft neoliberalism", or neoliberal "wolf in sheep's clothing".

That's the difference. Peter K. -> kurt... , -1

Krugman is center-left and doesn't like the left.

Haven't you been paying attention?

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/09/the-facts-have-a-well-known-center-left-bias/

The Facts Have A Well-Known Center-Left Bias
by Krugman
MAY 9, 2016 8:01 AM

Yesterday I tweeted a response to Donald Trump's claim that America is the highest-taxed nation in the world. Actually, he's been busted on that claim repeatedly, which makes it even more shameful that TV interviewers just let it slide. But I'm also interested in the responses I've been getting, which I think tell you something about the broader situation – maybe call it the politics of epistemology.

As you might guess, I'm getting a lot of denial, with quite a few people "explaining" that the international comparisons don't include state and local government. Um, guys, maybe you shouldn't make confident pronouncements about stuff you've never looked at.

And I do wonder about right-wingers weighing in here. After all, isn't it a (false) right-wing trope that the economic troubles of European nations are caused by their excessive welfare states? Doesn't that suggest that they have bigger government and higher taxes than we do? Oh, never mind.

But I'm also hearing from Berniebros, insisting that anything I say must be wrong, because I criticized their hero. And this suggests to me that we may need a clarification of the doctrine that facts have a well-known liberal bias. More specifically, they seem to have a center-left bias: conservatives are big on empirical denial, but so is some of the U.S. left.

This has become especially obvious in the waning days of the Democratic primary: you can watch data journalists like the two Nates (Cohn and Silver) growing increasingly exasperated with Sanders supporters who keep insisting that Hillary is stealing the nomination with superdelegates, when it's actually the Sanders campaign talking about getting supers to overturn the pledged delegate count and the popular vote.

Of course, campaigns can't be held responsible for everything their supporters say, although it's a bit worse when some of those supporters are actual campaign surrogates. Still, we can ask whether Sanders himself is inclined to dismiss inconvenient facts. Well, as you know, I think the answer is yes, on issues ranging from economic projections to the sources of Clinton primary victories.

I was therefore primed to notice when Sanders declared that Democrats need their own version of Fox News. What does he mean, exactly? Should the proposed network engage in similar factual distortions and outright falsehoods, except this time in the service of progressive goals?

By the way, it wouldn't work. Fox caters to an audience of angry old white men; the angry young white guys who would want a left-wing version of this message are fewer in number, have less purchasing power, and anyway don't get their news from TV. But that's a side point.

The main point, instead, is that what we're seeing is that the sort of people who really care about getting facts right – who see facing up to inconvenient truths as an important value – are largely on the center-left. Care with evidence appears to matter if you are, say, the 11th most liberal senator; this is in contrast not just with the right, but also with some of the left.

The good news is that this general election will be a contest between the center-left and the ignorant right, so political values and intellectual values will be in perfect accord.

[Jan 04, 2017] Privatization as defining feature of neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... "Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector .Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development. ..."
"... neoliberal is a corporatist scam to make you think they are liberal because they do not want to defund planned parenthood. ..."
Jan 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
pgl :, January 03, 2017 at 12:47 PM
The term neoliberal is often to smear certain liberals who actually try to do economic analysis but what does this term mean? One definition is found here:

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/neoliberalism.asp

Two snippets:

"Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector .Neoliberal policies aim for a laissez-faire approach to economic development.

I'll not speak for others but both of these ideas are things I would oppose. So who are the neoliberals per this link? Thatcher and Reagan. Hayek and Milton Friedman. That does not sound like what I believe. As far as the financial deregulation we saw almost a generation ago. I said back then that this was a mistake.

No – if this is what a neoliberal is, I'm not in this camp at all. Of course some people around here toss out the term to avoid a real discussion of the issues.

sanjait -> pgl... , January 03, 2017 at 04:47 PM
I think some people use it, obtusely, as if it were a relative term without real meaning.

If you aren't as liberal as the True Liberals (tm), or ever expressed disagreement with Bernie Sanders specifically, then you are a "neoliberal." Because, just because.

ilsm -> pgl... , -1
Get on.

neoliberal is a corporatist scam to make you think they are liberal because they do not want to defund planned parenthood.

DNC is corrupt and lies a lot too.

[Jan 04, 2017] Neoliberals versus socialists

Notable quotes:
"... Sanders responded with an attack on what he called "casino capitalism," an economic system that largely rewards the very rich and leaves the poor and middle class behind. He said the United States should be more like Scandinavian countries, which provide larger safety nets for their populations. ..."
"... "When you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States," Sanders said. "You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we're not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have -- we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth. ..."
"... "Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people." ..."
"... Clinton fired back with a defense of capitalism as a concept. First she redefined it - capitalism, she said, is about entrepreneurs being able to start small businesses - and then she said America must save it from itself. "We are not Denmark," she told Sanders. "I love Denmark." ..."
"... Scarred by the Great Recession and 25 years of middle-class wage stagnation, a majority of Americans now see the economy as stacked against people like them. They're still angry at Wall Street after the financial crisis, and, particularly on issues such as family leave, many of them look fondly upon policies like Denmark's. ..."
"... These trends have continued under the recovery overseen by a Democratic president, Barack Obama. As they have, Democratic politicians have elevated inequality and middle-class stagnation to the top of their economic agendas. There's a real debate on the role of the free market in addressing those issues. It comes down to the question of whether capitalism needs to be fixed up, or overhauled completely. The difference between fixing and overhauling is the main policy difference between Clinton and Sanders, as the debate showed. ..."
Jan 04, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com

Peter K. : January 04, 2017 at 01:43 PM , 2017 at 01:43 PM

Progressive neoliberals versus socialists.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/13/why-bernie-sanders-loves-denmark-but-hillary-clinton-doesnt/?utm_term=.94c6445f06fe

Why Bernie Sanders loves Denmark but Hillary Clinton doesn't

By Jim Tankersley October 13, 2015

Raise your hand if you had "Hillary Clinton defends capitalism, and/or criticizes Denmark" in your office pool for the first on-stage debate fight of the Democratic primaries. That's right - you didn't. But Clinton's extolling of the free-market economic system, and her critique of Democratic socialism, was her first open attack on the man closest to her in the polls, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. It showed an important fault line in this primary campaign.

The debate opened with the moderator, CNN's Anderson Cooper, smacking each of the five candidates on stage with her or his biggest perceived vulnerability in this race. For Sanders, it was his long and proud identification as a socialist, a term that, Cooper said, half of Americans find disqualifying in a candidate for president. "How can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?" Cooper asked.

Sanders responded with an attack on what he called "casino capitalism," an economic system that largely rewards the very rich and leaves the poor and middle class behind. He said the United States should be more like Scandinavian countries, which provide larger safety nets for their populations.

"When you look around the world, you see every other major country providing health care to all people as a right, except the United States," Sanders said. "You see every other major country saying to moms that, when you have a baby, we're not gonna separate you from your newborn baby, because we are going to have -- we are gonna have medical and family paid leave, like every other country on Earth.

"Those are some of the principles that I believe in, and I think we should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people."

Clinton fired back with a defense of capitalism as a concept. First she redefined it - capitalism, she said, is about entrepreneurs being able to start small businesses - and then she said America must save it from itself. "We are not Denmark," she told Sanders. "I love Denmark."

"We would be making a grave mistake to turn our backs on what built the greatest middle class in the history of the world," she said.

That this is a real debate in a major political party in the United States reflects several changes in the economy, and one big shift among Democratic voters.

Scarred by the Great Recession and 25 years of middle-class wage stagnation, a majority of Americans now see the economy as stacked against people like them. They're still angry at Wall Street after the financial crisis, and, particularly on issues such as family leave, many of them look fondly upon policies like Denmark's.

These trends have continued under the recovery overseen by a Democratic president, Barack Obama. As they have, Democratic politicians have elevated inequality and middle-class stagnation to the top of their economic agendas. There's a real debate on the role of the free market in addressing those issues. It comes down to the question of whether capitalism needs to be fixed up, or overhauled completely. The difference between fixing and overhauling is the main policy difference between Clinton and Sanders, as the debate showed.

[Dec 28, 2016] Neoliberalism consists of several eclectic parts such as neoclassic economics, mixture of Nietzscheanism (often in the form of Ann Rand philosophy; with the replacement of concept of Ubermench with creative class concept)) with corporatism.

Notable quotes:
"... But there are other flavors too. For example Trump introduced another flavor which I called "bastard neoliberalism". Which is the neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization and without "Permanent revolution" mantra -- efforts for enlargement of the US led global neoliberal empire. Somewhat similar to Eduard Bernstein "revisionism" in Marxism. Or Putinism - which is also a flavor of neoliberalism with added "strong state" part and "resource nationalism" bent, which upset so much the US neoliberal establishment, as it complicates looting of the country by transnational corporations. ..."
"... Neoliberalism also can be viewed as a modern mutation of corporatism, favoring multinationals (under disguise of "free trade"), privatization of state assets, minimal government intervention in business (with financial oligarchy being like Soviet nomenklatura above the law), reduced public expenditures on social services, and decimation of New Deal, strong anti trade unionism stance and attempt to atomize work force (perma temps as preferred mode of employment giving employers "maximum flexibility") , neocolonialism and militarism in foreign relations (might makes right). ..."
"... The word "elite" in the context of neoliberalism has the same meaning as the Russian word nomenklatura. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomenklatura, -- the political establishment holding or controlling both public and private power centers such as media, finance, academia, culture, trade, industry, state and international institutions. ..."
Dec 28, 2016 | economistsview.typepad.com
sanjait -> Peter K.... December 28, 2016 at 05:02 PM , 2016 at 05:02 PM
At this point, when I hear people use the words "neoliberal," "elites" and "the media" in unspecified or highly generalized terms to make broad characterizations ... I know I'm dealing with an unserious person.

sanjait -> sanjait... , December 28, 2016 at 05:05 PM
It's a lot like when someone says "structural reform" without specification in an economic discussion: An almost perfect indicator of vacuity.
likbez -> sanjait... , -1
Let's define the terms.

Neoliberals are those who adhere to the doctrine of Neoliberalism (the "prohibited" word you should not ever see in the US MSM ;-)

In this sense the term is very similar to Marxists (with the replacement of the slogan of "proletarians of all nations unite" with the "financial oligarchy of all countries unite"). Or more correctly they are the "latter day Trotskyites".

Neoliberalism consists of several eclectic parts such as neoclassic economics, mixture of Nietzscheanism (often in the form of Ann Rand philosophy; with the replacement of concept of Ubermench with "creative class" concept)) with corporatism. Like with Marxism there are different flavors of neoliberalism and different factions like "soft neoliberalism" (Clinton third way) which is the modern Democratic Party doctrine, and hard neoliberalism (Republican party version), often hostile to each other.

But there are other flavors too. For example Trump introduced another flavor which I called "bastard neoliberalism". Which is the neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization and without "Permanent revolution" mantra -- efforts for enlargement of the US led global neoliberal empire. Somewhat similar to Eduard Bernstein "revisionism" in Marxism. Or Putinism - which is also a flavor of neoliberalism with added "strong state" part and "resource nationalism" bent, which upset so much the US neoliberal establishment, as it complicates looting of the country by transnational corporations.

Neoliberalism also can be viewed as a modern mutation of corporatism, favoring multinationals (under disguise of "free trade"), privatization of state assets, minimal government intervention in business (with financial oligarchy being like Soviet nomenklatura above the law), reduced public expenditures on social services, and decimation of New Deal, strong anti trade unionism stance and attempt to atomize work force (perma temps as preferred mode of employment giving employers "maximum flexibility") , neocolonialism and militarism in foreign relations (might makes right).

Like for any corporatist thinkers the real goals are often hidden under thick smoke screen of propaganda.

The word "elite" in the context of neoliberalism has the same meaning as the Russian word nomenklatura. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nomenklatura, -- the political establishment holding or controlling both public and private power centers such as media, finance, academia, culture, trade, industry, state and international institutions.

[Sep 13, 2015] What is Neoliberalism by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia

CorpWatch

"Neo-liberalism" is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer.

"Liberalism" can refer to political, economic, or even religious ideas. In the U.S. political liberalism has been a strategy to prevent social conflict. It is presented to poor and working people as progressive compared to conservative or Rightwing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" -- meaning the political type -- have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

"Neo" means we are talking about a new kind of liberalism. So what was the old kind? The liberal school of economics became famous in Europe when Adam Smith, an Scottish economist, published a book in 1776 called THE WEALTH OF NATIONS. He and others advocated the abolition of government intervention in economic matters. No restrictions on manufacturing, no barriers to commerce, no tariffs, he said; free trade was the best way for a nation's economy to develop. Such ideas were "liberal" in the sense of no controls. This application of individualism encouraged "free" enterprise," "free" competition -- which came to mean, free for the capitalists to make huge profits as they wished.

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

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

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

The main points of neo-liberalism include:

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

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

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

Elizabeth Martinez is a longtime civil rights activist and author of several books, including "500 Years of Chicano History in Photographs."

13101310Arnoldo Garcia is a member of the Oakland-based Comite Emiliano Zapata, affiliated to the National Commission for Democracy in Mexico.

13101310Both writers attended the Intercontinental Encounter for Humanity and against Neoliberalism, held July 27 - August 3,1996, in La Realidad, Chiapas.

What is neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is a very important, yet often misunderstood concept. To give a short, oversimplified definition: Neoliberalism is a small-state economic ideology based on promoting "rational self-interest" through policies such as privatisation, deregulation, globalisation and tax cuts.

People often boggle at the use of the word "neoliberal" as if the utterer were some kind of crazed tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist raving about insane lizard-man conspiracies, rather than someone attempting to concisely define the global economic orthodoxy of the last three decades or so.

One of the main problems we encounter when discussing neoliberalism is the haziness of the definition. Neoliberalism is certainly a form of free-market neoclassical economic theory, but it quite difficult to pin down further than that, especially since neoliberal governments and economists carefully avoid referring to themselves as neoliberals and the mainstream media seem to avoid using the word at all costs (think about the last time you saw a BBC or CNN news reporter use the word "neoliberal" to describe the IMF or a particularly right-wing government policy).

The economic model that the word "neoliberalism" was coined to describe was developed by Chicago school economists in the 1960s and 1970s based upon Austrian neoclassical economic theories, but heavily influenced by Ayn Rand's barmy pseudo-philosophy of Übermenschen and greed-worship.

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

The first of the democratically elected neoliberals were Margaret Thatcher in the UK and Ronald Reagan in the US. They both set about introducing ideologically driven neoliberal reforms, such as the complete withdrawal of capital controls by Tory Chancellor Geoffrey Howe and the deregulation of the US financial markets that led to vast corruption scandals like Enron and the global financial sector insolvency crisis of 2007-08.

By 1989 the ideology of neoliberalism was enshrined as the economic orthodoxy of the world as undemocratic Washington based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the US Treasury Department signed up to a ten point economic plan which was riddled with neoliberal ideology such as trade liberalisation, privatisation, financial sector deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy. This agreement between anti-democratic organisations is misleadingly referred to as "The Washington Consensus".

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

Neoliberal economic policies have created economic disaster after economic disaster, virtually wherever they have been tried out. Some of the most high profile examples include:


South Africa: When the racist Apartheid system was finally overthrown in 1994, the new ANC government embraced neoliberal economic theory and set about privatising virtually everything, cutting taxes for the wealthy, destroying capital controls and deregulating their financial sector. After 18 years of neoliberal government, more black South Africans are living in extreme poverty, more people are unemployed and South Africa is an even more unequal society than it was under the racist Apartheid regime. Between 1994 and 2006 the number of South Africans living on less than $1 a day doubled from 2 million to 4 million, by 2002, eight years after the end of Apartheid 2002 the unemployment rate for black South Africans had risen to 48%.*
Russia: After the fall of communism, neoliberal economists flooded into Russia to create their free-market utopia, however all they managed to do was massively increase levels of absolute poverty, reduce productivity and create a few dozen absurdly wealthy oligarchs who siphoned their $trillions out of Russia to "invest" in vanity projects such as Chelsea FC. Within less than a decade of being one of the world's two great super-powers, the neoliberal revolution resulted in Russia defaulting on their debts in 1998.

Argentina: Praised as the poster-boys of neoliberalism by the IMF in the 1990s for the speed and scale of their neoliberal reforms, the Argentine economy collapsed into chaos between 1999-2002, only recovering after Argentina defaulted on their debts and prioritised repayment of their IMF loans, which allowed them to tear up the IMF book of neoliberal dogma and begin implementing an investment based growth strategy which boosted the Argentine economy out of their prolonged recession. The late Argentine President Néstor Kirchner famously stated that the IMF had "transformed itself from being a lender for development to a creditor demanding privileges".

The Eurozone: The right-wing love to drivel on about how the EU is a "leftie" organisation, but the unelected technocrats that run the EU (the European commission and the European Central Bank) are fully signed up to the neoliberal economic orthodoxy, where economic interests are separated from democratic control. Take the economic crisis in Greece: The EC and the ECB lined up with the neoliberal pushing IMF to force hard line neoliberal reforms onto the Greek economy in return for vast multi-billion "bailouts" that flowed directly out of Greece to "bail out" their reckless creditors (mainly German and French banks). When the neoliberalisation reforms resulted in further economic contraction, rising unemployment and worsening economic conditions the ECB, EC, IMF troika simply removed the democratic Greek government and appointed their own stooge, an economic coup trick they also carried out in Italy. Spain and Ireland are other cracking examples of neoliberal failure in the Eurozone. These two nations were more fiscally responsible than Germany, France or the UK in terms of government borrowing before the neoliberal economic meltdown, however their deregulated financial sectors inflated absurd property bubbles, leaving the Irish and Spanish economies in ruins once the bubbles burst around 2007-08.

The United Kingdom: Here is a short article summarising how three decades of neoliberal policy have undone many of the gains made during the mixed-economy era.
Despite this litany of economic failures, neoliberalism remains the global economic orthodoxy. Just like any good pseudo-scientific or religious orthodoxy the supporters of neoliberal theory always manage to come up with a load of post-hoc rationalisations for the failure of their theories and the solutions they present for the crises their own theories induced are always based upon the implementation of even more fundamentalist neoliberal policies.

One of the most transparent of these neoliberal justification narratives is the one that I describe as the Great Neoliberal Lie: The fallacious and utterly misleading argument that the global economic crisis (credit crunch) was caused by excessive state spending, rather than by the reckless gambling of the deregulated, neoliberalised financial sector.

Just as with other pseudo-scientific theories and fundamentalist ideologies, the excuse that "we just weren't fundamentalist enough last time" is always there. The neoliberal pushers of the establishment know that pure free-market economies are as much of an absurd fairytale as 100% pure communist economies, however they keep pushing for further privatisations, tax cuts for the rich, wage repression for the ordinary, and reckless financial sector deregulations precicely because they are the direct beneficiaries of these policies. Take the constantly widening wealth gap in the UK throughout three decades of neoliberal policy. The minority of beneficiaries from this ever widening wealth gap are the business classes, financial sector workers, the mainstream media elite and the political classes. It is no wonder at all that these people think neoliberalism is a successful ideology. Within their bubbles of wealth and privilege it has been. To everyone else it has been an absolute disaster.

Returning to a point I raised earlier in the article; one of the main problems with the concept of "neoliberalism" is the nebulousness of the definition. It is like a form of libertarianism, however it completely neglects the fundamental libertarian idea of non-aggression. In fact, it is so closely related to that other (highly aggressive) US born political ideology of Neo-Conservatism that many people get the two concepts muddled up. A true libertarian would never approve of vast taxpayer funded military budgets, the waging of imperialist wars of aggression nor the wanton destruction of the environment in pursuit of profit.

Another concept that is closely related to neoliberalism is the ideology of minarchism (small stateism), however the neoliberal brigade seem perfectly happy to ignore the small-state ideology when it suits their personal interests. Take the vast banker bailouts (the biggest state subsidies in human history) that were needed to save the neoliberalised global financial sector from the consequences of their own reckless gambling, the exponential growth of the parasitic corporate outsourcing sector (corporations that make virtually 100% of their turnover from the state) and the ludicrous housing subsidies (such as "Help to Buy and Housing Benefits) that have fueled the reinflation of yet another property Ponzi bubble.

The Godfather of neoliberalism was Milton Friedman. He made the case that illegal drugs should be legalised in order to create a free-market drug trade, which is one of the very few things I agreed with him about. However this is politically inconvenient (because the illegal drug market is a vital source of financial sector liquidity) so unlike so many of his neoliberal ideas that have consistently failed, yet remain incredibly popular with the wealthy elite, Friedman's libertarian drug legalisation proposals have never even been tried out.

The fact that neoliberals are so often prepared to ignore the fundamental principles of libertarianism (the non-aggression principle, drug legalisation, individual freedoms, the right to peaceful protest ...) and abuse the fundamental principles of small state minarchism (vast taxpayer funded bailouts for their financial sector friends, £billions in taxpayer funded outsourcing contracts, alcohol price fixing schemes) demonstrate that neoliberalism is actually more like Ayn Rand's barmy (greed is the only virtue, all other "virtues" are aberrations) pseudo-philosophical ideology of objectivism than a set of formal economic theories.

The result of neoliberal economic theories has been proven time and again. Countries that embrace the neoliberal pseudo-economic ideology end up with "crony capitalism", where the poor and ordinary suffer "austerity", wage repression, revocation of labour rights and the right to protest, whilst a tiny cabal of corporate interests and establishment insiders enrich themselves via anti-competitive practices, outright criminality and corruption and vast socialism-for-the-rich schemes.

Neoliberal fanatics in powerful positions have demonstrated time and again that they will willingly ditch their right-wing libertarian and minarchist "principles" if those principles happen to conflict with their own personal self-interest. Neoliberalism is less of a formal set of economic theories than an error strewn obfuscation narrative to promote the economic interests, and justify the personal greed of the wealthy, self-serving establishment elite.

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De Neice Kenehan 2 years ago

The Democratic a Party has had a Neoliberal economic policy since Carter. The word liberal in Neoliberalism refers to the liberalization or easing of labour and trade laws meant to protect the population from the tyranny of unrestrained capitalism. Much of this deregulation ends up benefiting the parasitic elites and bureaucracy, rather than the poor. You can clearly see the effects as the rich grow richer and the poor poorer.

Neoliberalism attempted to do away with narrow interest politics that were seen to damage the Democratic Party by adopting a " centrist " vision which is internally consistent with the laissez-faire capitalist model that the Republican Party espouses.

To prevent social conflict, Democratic policy has been marketed to poor and working people as "progressive" and as "less evil " than conservative or Rightwing policy. But it is the same policy , and Conservatives who bluster that they hate "liberals" actually have no real problem whatsoever with neoliberalism.

Here's why---The main points of neo-liberalism include:

1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating "free" enterprise or private enterprise from bonds imposed by the government no matter how much social damage this causes, eg approval of large monopolistic mergers and acquisitions like Comcast; Clintonian Wall Street banking consolidations , crossownerships , schemes and scams.

With the rapid globalization of the capitalist free market economy, we are seeing neo-liberalism on a global scale, for example , greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA and TPP.

2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, eg recent cuts in food stamps and unemployment insurance (Of course, they don't oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.) See the Farm Bill passed by Conservative Republicans and Neoliberal Democrats and signed by a neoliberal president; also Obama's plan to chain Social Security benefits .

3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job, eg barely monitored fracking on public lands, opposition to labeling of GMOs, withholding information about toxic chemicals from public and not monitoring radiation in Japanese imports following the Fukushima meltdown.

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

5. Replacing "THE PUBLIC GOOD" or "COMMUNITY" with "individual responsibility."

There are some criticisms of neoliberalism. One of the most common is that it is too concerned with raising incomes (eg focus on minimum wage ) and less with overall income equality, that is, that most of the increase in income reported as a result of neoliberalism around the world goes into the hands of a small elite. Many "traditional liberals" worry that the increasing gap between the lower class and the mega-rich is undermining democracy as we know it.

This reflects the prediction of James Madison, the 'Father of the Constitution', that "We are free today substantially but the day will come when our Republic will be an impossibility. It will be an impossibility because wealth will be concentrated in the hands of a few." He then goes on to say that we must then rely on the "best elements in society" to readjust the laws of the country to the changed conditions.

The other major criticism of domestic neoliberals is their support for free trade. Many people on all sides of the political spectrum (in every country) worry about the effects of free trade on everything from wages to sovereignty.

In Mexico wages declined 40 to 50% in the first year of President Clinton's NAFTA while the cost of living rose by 80%. Over 20,000 small and medium businesses have failed and more than 1,000 state-owned enterprises have been privatized in Mexico. As one scholar said, "Neoliberalism means the neo-colonization of Latin America."

(Various sources)

- DeNeice Kenehan

Neoliberalism origins, theory, definition.

The definition of neoliberalism presented here is more abstract than usual - but it also suggests that neoliberalism has been underestimated. A widely quoted example of those 'usual definitions' is What is "Neo-Liberalism"? by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo García:
Neo-liberalism is a set of economic policies that have become widespread during the last 25 years or so. Although the word is rarely heard in the United States, you can clearly see the effects of neo-liberalism here as the rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer....Around the world, neo-liberalism has been imposed by powerful financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter- American Development Bank....the capitalist crisis over the last 25 years, with its shrinking profit rates, inspired the corporate elite to revive economic liberalism. That's what makes it 'neo' or new.

This sense of the word 'neoliberalism' is widely used in Latin America. However, neoliberalism is more a phenomenon of the rich western market democracies, than of poor regions. That is why I emphasise the historical development of liberalism, in those western market democracies. The IMF and the World Bank are not the right places to look, to see the essence of neoliberalism. And the WTO ideology - free trade and 'competitive advantage' - is 200 years old. There is nothing 'neo' in their liberalism.

Seattle and Genoa?

The image of 'neoliberalism' has been heavily influenced by the protests against it: people think of the violent protests at Seattle and Genoa, and the associated social movements. If you only thought about that, then neoliberalism would be an ideology of the riot police, and that's not accurate.

It's true that the Genoa G8 summit was intended as a show of force. The organisers knew that violent demonstrations were probable in an Italian city, but chose to confront them. Democratically elected leaders "should not run from demonstrators", said Tony Blair. (However, when it was Britain's turn to organise the G8 summit, the hypocrite choose the isolated Gleneagles hotel in Scotland). 20 000 police and soldiers were deployed at the Genoa G8 summit - NATO used 42 500 troops to occupy Kosovo. This show of force was out of all proportion to the political strength of anti-market forces, but it emphasised the legitimacy of the market-democratic states.

It is possible for 'the state' to suppress 'the market', but also to promote it. In fact, the free market emerged in Europe under the protection of the state, and the market needs the state, more than the other way around. The market needs internal regulation, in order to function: the state, in the form of the legal system, ensures contracts are enforced. In the form of the police, it prevents theft and fraud. It establishes uniform systems of weights and measures, and a uniform currency. Without these things there would be no free market, no market forces, and no resulting market society. Bill Gates disputes the US Government's authority over his business - but if there was no government at all, the poor would soon steal his wealth. The attack on the World Trade Center provided some images of this dependency - the reopening of the New York Stock Exchange by police and firefighters, for instance. (In turn, at least in the United States, the market is integrated in the national identity: the NYSE reopening was seen as an act of national defiance).

The free market is itself a form of social organisation: it is neither spontaneous nor endemic to humans. If no-one ever promoted or enforced it, there would be no free market on this planet. For thousands of years, there was none. The modern free market came into existence primarily because liberalism demanded its existence. This demand was a a political demand, and it was enforced through the state.

The general functionalist starting premise is only modified to the extent that the "system" is comprehended as capitalist, in a specific way "form-determined". The state and the political system function as a form of an 'ideal all-around capitalist', who must uphold not just the society as such, but the 'capitalist element'. The different forms of state interventionism are explained both as an expression of functional needs of the accumulation and reproduction process of capital. The general requirements of capital accumulation such as basic infrastructure, functioning law systems and legitimization mechanisms are tasks that cannot be carried out by individual capitalists due to the competition relations, but instead systemically require a "fictive all-around-capitalist". This "capitalist referee" must guarantee the fulfilment of these tasks in the interest of maintaining the system of capitalist society..
Business and the State: Mapping the Theoretical Landscape
Volker Schneider and Marc Tenbuecken, 2002.

If everyone on this planet was a liberal, an enthusiastic supporter of the free market, then that would be the end of the matter. But of course some people oppose the market, and its effects - especially the resulting inequality. The market is a political and social regime, and like any other regime, it must be enforced against opposition. That is true even of democracies: democrats overthrow dictators, and dictators overthrow democracies. If either side wants to avoid their own overthrow, they must use force. Democrats do use democratic force, and do fight democratic wars, as they know in Iraq.

The relationship between supporters and opponents of the free market, is similar to that between democrats and anti-democrats. They are enemies, inherently. On the very existence of the market, no compromise is possible. The free market either exists, or it does not exist. It can disappear by consent - which is absurdly unlikely - or without consent. Any attempt to end the free market is, by definition, an attempt to overthrow a fundamental social structure. Certainly, in the long-established western market democracies, it would mean a collapse of the existing social structures. The effect would be dramatic - comparable to occupation by a foreign power.

So it is not surprising that force is used in the face of a threat, and it is not surprising that it is the force of the state. That is after all, a typical task of the state - the preservation of the regime itself, the preservation of the nature of the state. Anarchist propaganda speaks of "the State", as if all states were interchangeable, but they are not. A market democracy is not interchangeable with a Bolshevik regime, simply because they both have a government, an army, and a police force. A market democracy will use force, state force, against an attempt to overthrow either democracy or the market. That is what the riot police did: defend the state, and defend the market - without contradiction between them.

In historical perspective 'Genoa' was an absurd over-reaction. The western market democracies are the most stable and successful societies in history. The principle of the free market is accepted by well over 90% of their population, probably closer to 99% in western Europe. The tensions can be explained by the underlying sense of threat, but they are not specifically related to neoliberalism, and they certainly do not explain it. For that, a long-term and ideological perspective is necessary.

... ... ...

A general characteristic of neoliberalism is the desire to intensify and expand the market, by increasing the number, frequency, repeatability, and formalisation of transactions. The ultimate (unreachable) goal of neoliberalism is a universe where every action of every being is a market transaction, conducted in competition with every other being and influencing every other transaction, with transactions occurring in an infinitely short time, and repeated at an infinitely fast rate. It is no surprise that extreme forms of neoliberalism, and especially cyberliberalism, overlap with semi-religious beliefs in the interconnectedness of the cosmos.

Some specific aspects of neoliberalism are:

Neoliberalism is not simply an economic structure, it is a philosophy. This is most visible in attitudes to society, the individual and employment. Neo-liberals tend to see the world in term of market metaphors. Referring to nations as companies is typically neoliberal, rather than liberal. In such a view Deutschland GmbH competes with Great Britain Ltd, BV Nederland, and USA Inc. However, when this is a view of nation states, it is as much a form of neo-nationalism as neoliberalism. It also looks back to the pre-liberal economic theory - mercantilism - which saw the countries of Europe as competing units. The mercantilists treated those kingdoms as large-scale versions of a private household, rather than as firms. Nevertheless, their view of world trade as a competition between nation-sized units, would be acceptable to modern neoliberals.

Competition for inward investment, on the other hand, was generally unknown until the late 19th century. This competition is often seen by activists as the core doctrine of neoliberalism, especially since the neo-mercantilist policies are easy to understand and very unpopular: wage cuts, less money for public services, less tax on the rich. The neo-mercantilist nation, in other words, behaves like a caricaturally mean and nasty capitalist. It is not relevant either for these policies, or for opposition to them, whether they have any effect at all. Perhaps investment decisions are not made on this basis, perhaps there is no real mobility of capital, perhaps no investor is interested in Argentina, for instance. But so long as the Argentine government believes that it should pursue certain polices to attract investors, then it will do so. So long as it believes that the 'SA Argentina' is a business firm, then it will run Argentina accordingly.

The market metaphor is not only applied among nations, but among cities and regions as well. In neoliberal regional policy, cities are selling themselves in a national and global marketplace of cities. They are considered equivalent to an entrepreneur selling a product, but the product is the city (or region) as a location for entrepreneurs. The successful 'sale' of the product is the decision of an entrepreneur to locate there, not simply the sale of land or factories. This view of cities as sub-firms within the fictive 'national firm' parallels the creation of sub-markets within real firms. The difference is, that those sub-markets really exist - neoliberal city governments, on the other hand, act primarily on a belief in a metaphor. Again, there is no hard evidence that the global marketplace of cities exists: for most economic sectors complete mobility of plant and labour is an illusion. Most firms can not simply move from city to city, across continents and ignoring language and cultural barriers, in pursuit of locational advantage. Here too, the neoliberalism is a philosophy, an attitude - rather than an economic reality. It has influenced European politics - the fear of this neoliberalism dominated the French campaign against the European Constitution. There is certainly a neoliberal lobby within the EU, represented by the Lisbon Council, although it sees the world in terms of competing trade blocks rather than competing cities or regions. However, it is not clear how a continent could be run as a business firm - even its inhabitants wanted that. (More on neoliberal economic geography below).

A good example of the underlying attitudes is the basic policy document of the city of Düsseldorf - the Leitbild, equivalent to a 'mission statement' in English. It was adopted in 1997, and is no longer online at the city website, but parts are quoted at St@ttbuch Düsseldorf...

Düsseldorf bekennt sich zum Prinzip des Wettbewerbs. Der Erfolg von Städten entscheidet sich im Wettbewerb nach innen und aussen. Düsseldorf will besser sein.
Wettbewerb ist treibende Kraft unseres gesellschaftlichen Systems. Im zusammenwachsenden Europa gilt dies in hohem Masse auch für die Beziehungen zwischen den Regionen, die als Wirtschaftsstandort, als Lebensraum für die Bürgerinnen und Bürger und als Kulturstandort miteinander konkurrieren. Sich hierzu bekennen heisst, den Wettbewerb aufnehmen und aktiv gestalten zu wollen.
Im Wettbewerb besteht nur, wer gut ist. Düsseldorf will Wettbewerb. Im Interesse der vielen Millionen Menschen des Lebens- und Wirtschaftsraums: Düsseldorf will besser sein.
...
Düsseldorf is committed to the principle of competition. The success of cities is decided by competition, internal and external. Düsseldorf wants to be better. Competition is the driving force of our social system. In a Europe which is becoming more integrated, this applies increasingly to the relations between regions. They compete with each other as investment location, as residential choice for the citizens, and in cultural activity. Our commitment means that we will actively and structurally enter into this competition. In a competitive world, only the good can survive. Düsseldorf wants to compete! In the name of the millions of people in our economic and residential region: Düsseldorf wants to be the best!

The neoliberal urban vision was adopted, without debate, by many city governments in the 1990's. At some point, a belief in 'competition by population structure' was incorporated - the idea that a successful city is inhabited only by successful people. This belief, nonsensical or not, has had an effect in a negative sense: some cities now pursue active policies aimed at relocating low-income households outside the city. In the Netherlands, a new law allows large cities to legally ban poor people, from certain areas, or from the entire city..

As you would expect from a complete philosophy, neoliberalism has answers to stereotypical philosophical questions such as "Why are we here" and "What should I do?". We are here for the market, and you should compete. Neo-liberals tend to believe that humans exist for the market, and not the other way around: certainly in the sense that it is good to participate in the market, and that those who do not participate have failed in some way. In personal ethics, the general neoliberal vision is that every human being is an entrepreneur managing their own life, and should act as such. Moral philosophers call this is a virtue ethic, where human beings compare their actions to the way an ideal type would act - in this case the ideal entrepreneur. Individuals who choose their friends, hobbies, sports, and partners, to maximise their status with future employers, are ethically neoliberal. This attitude - not unusual among ambitious students - is unknown in any pre-existing moral philosophy, and is absent from early liberalism. Such social actions are not necessarily monetarised, but they represent an extension of the market principle into non-economic area of life - again typical for neoliberalism.

The idea of employability is characteristically neoliberal. It means that neoliberals see it as a moral duty of human beings, to arrange their lives to maximise their advantage on the labour market. Paying for plastic surgery to improve employability (almost entirely by women) is a typical neoliberal phenomenon - one of those which would surprise Adam Smith.

Eileen Bradbury, a psychologist who advises surgeons at the Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle, Cheshire, said she was particularly worried that Jenna wanted the operation so that she could be successful. "That is a very disturbing belief for a 15-year-old girl to have, and also a false one," she said. "I have seen women coming for surgery who work in television and they say they have to have it done or they won't get the work. I usually go along with that because it is probably true".
Guardian: Parents defend breast implants for girl, 15.

In practice many 'workfare neoliberals' also believe that there is a separate category of people, who can not participate fully in the market. Workfare ideologies condemn this underclass to a service function for those who are fully market-compatible. Note however, that by recognising a non-market underclass, neoliberals undermine their own claims about the universal applicability of market principles.

The general ethical precept of neoliberalism can be summarised approximately as:

If everyone lives by such entrepreneurial precepts, then a world will come into existence in which not just goods and services, but all human and social life, is the product of conformity to market forces. More than traditional market liberals, neoliberals therefore have a quasi-heroic attitude to the entrepreneur, and to engagement in the market. A 1998 speech by German entrepreneur Jost Stollmann is typical: his neoliberal ideas played a prominent role in the national elections in Germany in that year. Stollmann includes his personal moral philosophy, such as it is...

Ich möchte die Lust und Bewunderung unternehmerischen Erfolgs in den Augen der jungen Menschen sehen. Ich möchte den Stolz und den Zuspruch der Eltern spüren, wenn sich Sohn oder Tochter tatenvoll in das Abenteuer Selbständigkeit stürzen.
....so gut sein, wie wir nur können - getreu der bewährten Formel, die ich während meiner Zeit in Amerika verstehen gelernt habe: 'BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE'
Jost Stollmann

The idea that everyone should be an entrepreneur is distinctly neoliberal. Early liberals never expected the majority of the population to own property, let alone run a business. (The participation of the poor in the market was limited to accepting any work they were offered). The practices on the flexibilised labour market would seem strange to the early liberals. For instance, individuals set up a one-person employment agency with one person on the books, themselves - partly for tax reasons, but also to meet the ideal of the entrepreneur. Policy to increase the number of entrepreneurs is typically neoliberal, although ironically it must be implemented by the State. A classic market-liberal would not say that a free market is less of a free market, because only 10% of the population are entrepreneurs. For neoliberals it is not sufficient that there is a market: there must be nothing which is not market.

the neoliberalism joke
Marxist: "The workers have nothing to sell but their labour power"
Neoliberal: "I offer courses on How to Sell Your Labour Power Like A Shark"

There is therefore no distinction between a market economy and a market society in neoliberalism. With the attitudes and ethics set out above, there is only market: market society, market culture, market values, market persons marketing themselves to other market persons. In a sense neoliberalism has returned to the position of early liberalism - which also combined culture, values and ethics with economics. But neoliberalism brings a far more intensive 'market' - replacing not only traditional social forms, but also the concept of private life. At the same time this 'market' is increasingly remote from the necessity of production, which was so real for the early liberals - when there were still regular famines in Europe. In fact it is so remote from the existing cultural perception of a 'market', that it would perhaps be better to use some other word.

Finally, neoliberalism has become associated with specific cultures (especially US culture) and a specific language (English). This is not surprising: Anglo-American liberalism had the most influence on neoliberalism. Neoliberalism as ideology is not tied to any culture or language. It is true that a single global language would facilitate free trade - but that could be Esperanto, as well as English. In practice, the promotion of the English language, neoliberal policies, and pro-American foreign policy, usually go together: this was especially true in Central and Eastern Europe.

Globalisation and neoliberalism

Often the terms 'globalisation' and 'neoliberalism' are used as if they were interchangeable. That is only correct in a limited sense, for the neo-mercantilist aspects of the neoliberal ideology. I will try to clarify the perceived and actual relationship between the two - especially for the South American use of the term 'neoliberalism'.

The neoliberal ideology sees the nation primarily as a business firm, as explained above. The nation-firm is selling itself as an investment location, rather than simply selling export goods. If no-one in government believes in this ideology, it will have no consequences. If however, a neoliberal government is in power, it will pursue policies designed to make the nation more attractive as an investment location. These policies are generally pro-business, and are perceived as such by the opponents of the policies.

But remember that the ideology is neo-mercantilist: the policies are national policies, directed ultimately at the welfare of the nation and not of the market. Paradoxically, they are a form of protectionism: if there is a global market of investment locations, then it is 'unfair competition' for governments to artificially increase the attractiveness of their own country. Such governments are, strictly speaking, not good market liberals. Hard-line classic market liberals would shrug their shoulders at the election of an anti-business government. "Business will go elsewhere, the country will become poor, that's the way the global market works, leave the market alone", they would say. They would not waste their time trying to get a pro-business government elected there. In reality few liberals are so consistent, neoliberals certainly are not. But their rhetoric of 'national competitiveness' is a form of economic nationalism: it is a modern version of the old nationalist insistence, that the whole nation should work together. It revitalises jingoism, chauvinism, flag-waving and foreigner-bashing: Tony Blair is probably the best example.

Don't tell me that a country with our history and heritage, that today boasts six of the top ten businesses in the whole of Europe, with London the top business city in Europe, that is a world leader in technology and communication and the businesses of the future, that under us has overtaken France and Italy to become the fourth largest economy in the world, that has the language of the new economy, more brilliant artists, actors and directors than any comparable country in the world, some of the best scientists and inventors in the world, the best armed forces in the world, the best teachers and doctors and nurses, the best people any nation could wish for. Don't tell me with all that going for us that we do not have the spirit to meet all the challenges before us.
Blair conference speech, 26 September 2000

Now, a neoliberal government will almost certainly appeal to 'globalisation' as a justification and legitimisation of its policies - Tony Blair certainly does. By globalisation they mean, more or less, that the global market of investment locations now exists, and that it is an inevitable historical development. The opponents of the neoliberal government will, in turn, oppose this 'globalisation'. However, that does not mean that the global market of nations actually exists. The existence of neoliberal governments, pursuing neoliberal policies justified by an appeal to globalisation, does not mean that a new global order has superseded the order of nation states. The very fact, that it is still primarily the nation state which is being 'marketed' in this way, shows that the nation has not disappeared.

Before considering the reality of the global order, it is also necessary to consider the beliefs of the opponents of such a neoliberal government. Again paradoxically, many of them accept without question the neoliberal claim that there is a long-term historical process of 'globalisation', transforming the nation into a business firm on a global market of nation-firms. Worse, if the nation is a business then it is often clearly weak - everyone can see that Argentina is economically worse off than the United States. A neoliberal government will therefore try to convert a nation such as Argentina into a 'strong player', which means worsening the living conditions of much of the population. Now here is the next paradox: the response of the opponents is also an economic nationalism, this time with the emphasis on protectionism. The opposition perception of globalisation differs in one respect: for them it is a historical but not spontaneous development. For them it is a policy imposed by a non-national global elite, directed against the individual nations.

In their view, the international financial institutions are equivalent to an imperial power, which has de facto colonised countries such as Argentina. In caricatural form: they believe that a new and powerful empire has come into existence, the Empire of IMF-ia, at an indeterminate location. The neoliberal government, in this view, is a traitorous elite acting as a colonial Viceroy for the IMF-ian Empire. The opposition wants to replace it with a government which will 'liberate' the nation from the global market, from its colonial status. That 'liberation' is generally understood as: withdrawal of the nation-firm from the global market of nation-firms, protectionism, economic nationalism, and self-sufficiency instead of trade. Here too there is a paradox: the oppositional movements are not anti-business: they generally see national business as a victim of global business. (Local business in South America is in the comfortable position, that both neoliberals and anti-neoliberals want to help it, for different reasons).

The 'IMF-ia model' is partly correct: the global financial institutions are indeed a bastion of neoliberal ideology, and they can bully some poor countries into adopting neoliberal policies. But they can't do that to the rich western powers, in fact they would not exist without the support of these powers. They are not a force outside nations, they are not an imperial power. The global financial institutions are, in the simplest terms, an instrument of US policy - and if there is a quasi-imperial power, it is the United States.

The point is, once again, that the truth of beliefs about globalisation is itself irrelevant. If the government and people all believe that a country is being attacked by fire-breathing dragons, then the government might distribute asbestos suits to the population, and the opposition might complain that there were not enough of them. Ideologies and politics can operate on a completely fictive basis. Millions of Europeans died to 'resolve' theological issues such as the Virgin Birth of Mary, Mother of God.

So the perceptions have themselves generated a political reality: on the basis of a belief in 'globalisation' some governments pursue neoliberal policies, which are neo-mercantilist in their logic and aims. In such circumstances opposition to globalisation and neoliberalism coincides, rather than neoliberalism being identical or synonymous with globalisation. Both sides share a common fallacy: that trade and sovereignty are opposites, a zero-sum pair. The neoliberals believe that national success - "in today's global market" - requires the abandonment of national economic autonomy and sovereignty. Their opponents believe that national welfare requires minimisation of trade and external links: they believe that trade and invasion are equivalent, although no-one will say that outright. Once again, the equivalences and perceptions on both sides are false. Most of the Gross Global Product is tied to individual nation states for technical, climatic, logistical, and cultural reasons. For most investment decisions, there is no global market of locations. And sovereignty is not necessarily inverse to trade volume and trade regime. A powerful country such as the United States can have a high trade volume relative to GNP. Many colonies - by definition not sovereign - had a low trade volume relative to GNP, because the bulk of 'GNP' consisted of peasant agriculture. But even a fallacious belief can apparently support not just one, but two competing forms of economic nationalism.

So what is the reality behind the perceived globalisation? One reality is that nation states still dominate global social and economic structures. However these nation states themselves form a specific arrangement of a specific type of state. Globalisation claims appear logical if you see nation states as isolated islands, but that is not the historical reality. The very existence of a world of nation states, indicates some form of global order of nation states. What these nation states do - trade or no trade, capital flows or no capital flows - is irrelevant to that issue. What is already global can not logically be globalised: therefore there is no globalisation, in the widely used sense. There is no transition underway, or recently completed, to a fundamentally different global structure. Because the existing order of nation states is already global, intensification of global flows, or global trade, or global communication does not undermine it, or fundamentally alter it. If some part of the world were to break with this global order - for instance a future autarkic caliphate - that would be a radical change. When nations trade with each other, that simply indicates that the global order of nations is functioning as expected.

The false premise in the globalisation thesis is in fact the standard nationalist claim, that each nation is a separate and particular entity. In reality nations collectively are a global and universalist structure: the functional equivalent of a nationalist world state. The world functions as if a nationalist world government had seized power in the 19th century, led by Mazzini and Garibaldi and friends. Most existing states were indeed established by nationalist groups. Nationalists co-operate to maintain one (nationalist) world order and exclude others. The nation state is not a particularity, existing by itself in isolation, but part of a global design. Supporters of the globalisation thesis claim, that a world of isolated nation states existed in the recent past - before 1989, or more approximately before 1950. They claim that these isolated nation states are now being eroded in a global process: it includes the formation of the neoliberals claimed 'market of nations'.

Economic globalization represents a major transformation in the territorial organization of economic activity and politico-economic power....The sovereignty of the modern state was concentrated in mutually exclusive territories and the concentration of sovereignty in nations...economic globalization has contributed to a denationalizing of national territory...
Saskia Sassen. Losing Control: Sovereignty in an Age of globalization (1996).

But is the global order of nation states disappearing, anywhere? In reality, there is no collapse of the nation state to be seen. Nation states have not suffered anything comparable to the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian or Ottoman empires. All that remains of those empires are oversized palaces in Vienna and Istanbul. The rest of their institutions have completely disappeared: there is not a square metre of Habsburg or Ottoman territory left in Europe. There is no longer an Austro-Hungarian imperial army, or police, or courts, or parliament. The nation states succeeded the multi-ethnic empires, seized all their territory, and remodelled all society on that territory. The replacement was total. Where is the equivalent 'collapse' of the nation state? There are few places on earth without the institutions of a nation state - perhaps Somalia, but that is not the result of globalisation. If the world was truly 'globalised' then it would be full of disused national parliament buildings - and not a national army in sight. The world is not like that, and will not be like that in the immediate future.

In other words, 'globalisation' remains a belief rather than a reality. It is an instrumental belief with great political influence and effect. It is appealed to by both neo-mercantilist neoliberals and their economic-nationalist opponents. Nationalists have a tradition of appealing to external threats to enforce national unity. The nation must unite and work together, they said - to defeat the Hun, or the Bolshevik threat, or the Yellow Peril, or the enemy within the gates, or Osama bin Ladin. The instrumental use of 'globalisation' is in the same dishonourable category.

Summarising neoliberalism

To conclude, here are summaries of neoliberalism in two forms. First a list of key points in neoliberalism:

A final summary definition of neoliberalism as a philosophy is this:

Neoliberalism is a philosophy in which the existence and operation of a market are valued in themselves, separately from any previous relationship with the production of goods and services, and without any attempt to justify them in terms of their effect on the production of goods and services; and where the operation of a market or market-like structure is seen as an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action, and substituting for all previously existing ethical beliefs.

Neoliberalism political and social science

Britanica is definitely a higher class source then Wikipedia ;-)
Britannica.com
Neoliberalism, ideology and policy model that emphasizes the value of free market competition. Although there is considerable debate as to the defining features of neoliberal thought and practice, it is most commonly associated with laissez-faire economics. In particular, neoliberalism is often characterized in terms of its belief in sustained economic growth as the means to achieve human progress, its confidence in free markets as the most-efficient allocation of resources, its emphasis on minimal state intervention in economic and social affairs, and its commitment to the freedom of trade and capital.

Although the terms are similar, neoliberalism is distinct from modern liberalism. Both have their ideological roots in the classical liberalism of the 19th century, which championed economic laissez-faire and the freedom (or liberty) of individuals against the excessive power of government. That variant of liberalism is often associated with the economist Adam Smith, who argued in The Wealth of Nations (1776) that markets are governed by an "invisible hand" and thus should be subject to minimal government interference. But liberalism evolved over time into a number of different (and often competing) traditions. Modern liberalism developed from the social-liberal tradition, which focused on impediments to individual freedom-including poverty and inequality, disease, discrimination, and ignorance-that had been created or exacerbated by unfettered capitalism and could be ameliorated only through direct state intervention. Such measures began in the late 19th century with workers' compensation schemes, the public funding of schools and hospitals, and regulations on working hours and conditions and eventually, by the mid-20th century, encompassed the broad range of social services and benefits characteristic of the so-called welfare state.

By the 1970s, however, economic stagnation and increasing public debt prompted some economists to advocate a return to classical liberalism, which in its revived form came to be known as neoliberalism. The intellectual foundations of that revival were primarily the work of the Austrian-born British economist Friedrich von Hayek, who argued that interventionist measures aimed at the redistribution of wealth lead inevitably to totalitarianism, and of the American economist Milton Friedman, who rejected government fiscal policy as a means of influencing the business cycle (see also monetarism). Their views were enthusiastically embraced by the major conservative political parties in Britain and the United States, which achieved power with the lengthy administrations of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1979–90) and U.S. Pres. Ronald Reagan (1981–89).

Neoliberal ideology and policies became increasingly influential, as illustrated by the British Labour Party's official abandonment of its commitment to the "common ownership of the means of production" in 1995 and by the cautiously pragmatic policies of the Labour Party and the U.S. Democratic Party from the 1990s. As national economies became more interdependent in the new era of economic globalization, neoliberals also promoted free-trade policies and the free movement of international capital. The clearest sign of the new importance of neoliberalism, however, was the emergence of libertarianism as a political force, as evidenced by the increasing prominence of the Libertarian Party in the United States and by the creation of assorted think tanks in various countries, which sought to promote the libertarian ideal of markets and sharply limited governments.

Beginning in 2007, the financial crisis and Great Recession in the United States. and western Europe led some economists and political leaders to reject the neoliberals' insistence on maximally free markets and to call instead for greater government regulation of the financial and banking industries.