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History of neoliberalism

News Neoliberalism Recommended Links Globalization of Financial Flows Neoliberalism Bookshelf Philip Pilkington: The Origins of Neoliberalism, Part I Honoring the Death of a Stateless Bastard
Frederick Von Hayek Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money" Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism      
Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners" The Iron Law of Oligarchy   The Deep State Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism
The Great Transformation Techno-fundamentalism Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Globalization of Corporatism Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo Greenspan humor Etc

See also

The Origins of Neoliberalism

David Harvey

Neoliberalism as a break from Keysianism


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[Jan 25, 2020] The evolution of a Linux sysadmin Enable Sysadmin by Nathan Lager

Jan 23, 2020 | www.redhat.com
A tale of how a sysadmin went from hobbyist and Level 1 tech to the big time at Red Hat.

We've all got a story, right? I don't know if anyone would read mine, but, to the right audience, it might sound familiar, or at least relatable. My life is sort of fractured between two things I'm passionate about. One is the off-road industry, and the other is open source software. Some time ago, I was involved in a YouTube "challenge" where a bunch of us off-road enthusiasts were asked to share our story, and I told the tale of how I got involved in "Jeeping" and why we do what we do in that space. Here, I am about to tell the other side of my story, where I'm a computer guy with a bunch of nerd cred. So hang on while I tell you the story of a broke high-school kid who stumbled into a career. Career Advice

I was a kid in the '80s; before computers were everywhere you looked. My dad, though, he was his generation's version of a geek -- a telephone guy, son of a handyman who worked his way through the Depression, making whatever he could out of whatever he had. As a kid, my dad involved me in all sorts of projects involving building things or wiring, and we even built an electrified wooden toy helicopter together. I learned from him that you could build your own happiness. I always joke with people that I learned my alphabet on a Texas Instruments computer connected to our living room TV. My first game system was an Atari computer with a 5.25" floppy drive.

In the early '90s, my dad brought home a state-of-the-art 486 desktop computer. Our first modern computer! He gave me his old Atari to put in my bedroom and tinker on, and that's what I did. The 486, though, that thing had a modern operating system on it, and I was nothing short of enthralled. A friend introduced me to some local dial-up bulletin board systems.

That, I'd have to say, is what started it all. I learned so much from this community of like-minded folks; all dialed into this little BBS. Eventually, I became very curious about how the BBS itself worked and started tinkering with BBS software. I found the space to be expensive, though; you needed hardware I couldn't afford.

Then came the Internet. As I mentioned, my dad was a telephone guy. He was, at the time, an engineer at a local telephone company. One of the partner companies under the same umbrella as his telco was starting up an internet service provider! He was able to get in early, and I was one of the first kids in my grade to get access to the Internet.

The Internet was a very different place at the time. You'd dial in, so it was much slower, and, because of the speed and the technologies involved, it was very much a text world. It was certainly not the entertainment source it is today, but to me, it was still just amazing!

I had a friend who was just as intrigued by technology as I was. He and I were both interested in the world outside of the end-user experience of these neat little computer things. We read everything we could get our hands-on. We read about websites and servers and how all of these things worked together. We read about some of the darker sides of technology, the Hackers Handbook, and how phone phreaking worked. I even learned a bit about how to pick locks! Lucky for me, and my parents, I've always been guided by a pretty fierce sense of morality, or my life could have turned out much differently.

Our reading and learning eventually led us to Linux. The word "free" associated with Linux caught our attention. I didn't have a job, I was in high school, so free was good. Little did I know that picking up that first Linux distro (Red Hat 5.0, I still have the CDs) would steer me into the career I've worked at for my entire adult life. My friend, by the way, he runs the Engineering team at that ISP I mentioned now. I guess our curiosity worked out pretty well for him too!

During the summer between my sophomore and junior years in High School, I picked up and started tinkering with those Red Hat 5.0 install discs. I installed, and reinstalled, and reinstalled, and reinstalled that OS on my little 486 until I finally got it right. I even got dual-booting working, so I could keep my Windows environment and play with Linux. After I graduated, my parents bought me a new PC to use for my school work in college, so I was able to turn my little 486 into a dedicated Linux machine. By now, we'd moved from dial-up internet service to dedicated cable. 500mbps baby! I ran a website off of my little 486. I lost track of the number of times I had to wipe and reinstall that system because some malicious actor broke into my poor little machine and flattened it on me, but I persisted, learning something else each time.

While I was in college, I worked in level 1 tech support for the ISP I mentioned above. I didn't love it. I had no control over the services I was supporting, and let's face it, level 1 tech support is a frustrating IT job. I spent five years doing that, trying and failing to get into the system administration group at the ISP. Eventually, I moved up into a network support role, which was much better than level 1, but not where I wanted to be. I was OK at networking, and I certainly could have made a career out of it, but it wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to run servers. I wanted to run Linux.

So, after seven years at the ISP, I left and started a job as a network administrator at a small web host. We were a team of about ten people, though that varied during the time I was there. "Network administrator" was a very loose title there. I was responsible for everything that had a CPU in it. I even had to replace the filter in the building's AC unit. I was responsible for network gear, some WAN links, Cisco routers, switches, and of course, Windows, Linux, and BSD servers. This was much more in line with what I wanted to do. However, I didn't love how they were doing it, not just from a technology aspect, but from a business perspective. They did some things that I thought were questionable. Still, though, I was gaining experience, in so many ways. I implemented more and more Linux systems to replace windows and BSD systems there, architected improvements, and generally did the best job I knew how to do.

After about three and a half years there, I left that web host for what I thought would be my last move. I started as a system administrator at a small liberal arts college near home. By this point, I'm married, and my wife and I are planning on a family. Higher education has some benefits that many people might not know about. It's a great atmosphere, and they put a lot of emphasis on bettering yourself, not just putting in your hours. The only real downside is that the pay is lower than in the private sector. Still, this was an increase over what I was making, and I didn't know it at the time, but I was walking into a team that helped set me up for the future in ways I couldn't have imagined.

See, I believe that IT is made up of two types of people: folks who see IT as a lucrative career, and folks who are passionate about IT and get paid to do it. This place was about 50% passionate people. I had never worked so closely with people so excited to do what they do. I felt like I was at home, I was learning new things every day, and talking with some of the most brilliant IT people I'd ever met. What's more, they all wanted to share what they knew.

Well, over time, that slowly changed. Those brilliant people took other jobs, some changes in management forced some others out, and eventually, I found that I was one of the few left who was still passionate about what had been so important to the mission at the college. More cloud adoption meant less need for a do-it-yourselfer like me. My "I'm going to retire here" plans started to crumble. I eventually moved into a new role they created for high-performance computing, which had promise. We started deploying the college's first HPC cluster. Then I got a message one Sunday afternoon from a contact I'd made within Red Hat.

I'd met Marc (Unclemarc to those who know him) through the Red Hat Accelerators, a customer advocacy group that Red Hat runs, and of which I'd become a member in late 2018. We hung out at Summit in Boston in early 2019, and apparently, he liked what he saw in me. He let me know that the team he's on would likely have an opening soon, and he thought I'd make a great addition. Now, for me, the prospect of a job at Red Hat sounded almost too good to be true. I'd been a fan of Red Hat since well, remember when I said I bought that first Linux distro install disc in 1997 or so? It was Red Hat Linux. I'd based a career on a Linux distro I'd bought out of an interest in a better way of doing something, when I was a kid in high school, looking for a cheaper alternative. Now here I am, a few months into Technical Account Management at Red Hat. I guess you could say I'm pleased with where this path has taken me.

Wondering where your sysadmin career could take you? Take a skills assessment to find the next step on the path for you. Topics: Sysadmin culture Career Nathan Lager Nate is a Technical Account Manager with Red Hat and an experienced sysadmin with 20 years in the industry. He first encountered Linux (Red Hat 5.0) as a teenager, after deciding that software licensing was too expensive for a kid with no income, in the late 90's. Since then he's run More about me

Related Content

Posted: January 14, 2020

Author: Susan Lauber

[Dec 03, 2019] The America of the moon-landing is not the America of today. Graduates of business schools have taken over once great engineering companies

Dec 03, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

absalom_hicks , 30 minutes ago link

The America of the moon-landing is not the America of today. Graduates of business schools have taken over once great engineering companies. The business students are of a lower intellect and baser motivation -- the worst possible combination.

The desire for science and engineering has weakened in America but greed for money and wealth is greatly increased. The business types produce mostly intellectual garbage and compensate for it with volume. No competent intellect can read it (or wants to do so) and so it remains unchecked, inflates even more and clogs everything.

You can live for a long time on the great inheritance your fathers have bequeathed you but you cannot live on it forever. Yet this is what we are trying to in more ways than one.

schroedingersrat , 6 minutes ago link

The business students are of a lower intellect and baser motivation

Most of them are losers that simply inherited their wealth & power. America is now run by rich dimwits that would flip burgers in a meritocracy.

[Dec 02, 2019] Perhaps it's time to remember Yuri Gagarin's role in creating the USA hardware and software engineering boom from 1960 to 2000

Dec 02, 2019 | www.asiatimes.com

The shock in the US was that the Russians were not only competitive, but had embarrassed US science and engineering by being first. In 1958, President Eisenhower signed into law the National Defense Education Act, and this enabled talented students to flow into science and engineering. The shock waves were felt throughout the entire educational system, from top to bottom. Mathematics was more important than football.

[Dec 01, 2019] Academic Conformism is the road to 1984. - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Highly recommended!
Dec 01, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Academic Conformism is the road to "1984."

Symptoms-of-groupthink-janis-72-l

The world is filled with conformism and groupthink. Most people do not wish to think for themselves. Thinking for oneself is dangerous, requires effort and often leads to rejection by the herd of one's peers.

The profession of arms, the intelligence business, the civil service bureaucracy, the wondrous world of groups like the League of Women Voters, Rotary Club as well as the empire of the thinktanks are all rotten with this sickness, an illness which leads inevitably to stereotyped and unrealistic thinking, thinking that does not reflect reality.

The worst locus of this mentally crippling phenomenon is the world of the academics. I have served on a number of boards that awarded Ph.D and post doctoral grants. I was on the Fulbright Fellowship federal board. I was on the HF Guggenheim program and executive boards for a long time. Those are two examples of my exposure to the individual and collective academic minds.

As a class of people I find them unimpressive. The credentialing exercise in acquiring a doctorate is basically a nepotistic process of sucking up to elders and a crutch for ego support as well as an entrance ticket for various hierarchies, among them the world of the academy. The process of degree acquisition itself requires sponsorship by esteemed academics who recommend candidates who do not stray very far from the corpus of known work in whichever narrow field is involved. The endorsements from RESPECTED academics are often decisive in the award of grants.

This process is continued throughout a career in academic research. PEER REVIEW is the sine qua non for acceptance of a "paper," invitation to career making conferences, or to the Holy of Holies, TENURE.

This life experience forms and creates CONFORMISTS, people who instinctively boot-lick their fellows in a search for the "Good Doggy" moments that make up their lives. These people are for sale. Their price may not be money, but they are still for sale. They want to be accepted as members of their group. Dissent leads to expulsion or effective rejection from the group.

This mentality renders doubtful any assertion that a large group of academics supports any stated conclusion. As a species academics will say or do anything to be included in their caste.

This makes them inherently dangerous. They will support any party or parties, of any political inclination if that group has the money, and the potential or actual power to maintain the academics as a tribe. pl


doug , 01 December 2019 at 01:01 PM

Sir,

That is the nature of tribes and humans are very tribal. At least most of them. Fortunately, there are outliers. I was recently reading "Political Tribes" which was written by a couple who are both law professors that examines this.

Take global warming (aka the rebranded climate change). Good luck getting grants to do any skeptical research. This highly complex subject which posits human impact is a perfect example of tribal bias.

My success in the private sector comes from consistent questioning what I wanted to be true to prevent suboptimal design decisions.

I also instinctively dislike groups that have some idealized view of "What is to be done?"

As Groucho said: "I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member"

J , 01 December 2019 at 01:22 PM
Reminds one of the Borg, doesn't it?

The 'isms' had it, be it Nazism, Fascism, Communism, Totalitarianism, Elitism all demand conformity and adherence to group think. If one does not co-tow to whichever 'ism' is at play, those outside their group think are persecuted, ostracized, jailed, and executed all because they defy their conformity demands, and defy allegiance to them.

One world, one religion, one government, one Borg. all lead down the same road to -- Orwell's 1984.

Factotum , 01 December 2019 at 03:18 PM
David Halberstam: The Best and the Brightest. (Reminder how the heck we got into Vietnam, when the best and the brightest were serving as presidential advisors.)

Also good Halberstam re-read: The Powers that Be - when the conservative media controlled the levers of power; not the uber-liberal one we experience today.

[Nov 08, 2019] Hayek as a corporate prostitute

Nov 08, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

After washing out at LSE, Hayek never held a permanent appointment that was not paid for by corporate sponsors. Even his conservative colleagues at the University of Chicago – the global epicentre of libertarian dissent in the 1950s – regarded Hayek as a reactionary mouthpiece, a "stock rightwing man" with a "stock rightwing sponsor", as one put it. As late as 1972, a friend could visit Hayek, now in Salzburg, only to find an elderly man prostrate with self-pity, believing his life's work was in vain. No one cared what he had written!

[Nov 08, 2019] The monumental impact of C Opensource.com

Nov 08, 2019 | opensource.com

The monumental impact of C The season finale of Command Line Heroes offers a lesson in how a small community of open source enthusiasts can change the world. 01 Oct 2019 Matthew Broberg (Red Hat) Feed 29 up 3 comments x Subscribe now

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https://opensource.com/eloqua-embedded-email-capture-block.html?offer_id=70160000000QzXNAA0 Command Line Heroes podcast explores C's origin story in a way that showcases the longevity and power of its design. It's a perfect synthesis of all the languages discussed throughout the podcast's third season and this series of articles . original_c_programming_book.jpg

C is such a fundamental language that many of us forget how much it has changed. Technically a "high-level language," in the sense that it requires a compiler to be runnable, it's as close to assembly language as people like to get these days (outside of specialized, low-memory environments). It's also considered to be the language that made nearly all languages that came after it possible.

The path to C began with failure

While the myth persists that all great inventions come from highly competitive garage dwellers, C's story is more fit for the Renaissance period.

In the 1960s, Bell Labs in suburban New Jersey was one of the most innovative places of its time. Jon Gertner, author of The idea factory , describes the culture of the time marked by optimism and the excitement to solve tough problems. Instead of monetization pressures with tight timelines, Bell Labs offered seemingly endless funding for wild ideas. It had a research and development ethos that aligns well with today's open leadership principles . The results were significant and prove that brilliance can come without the promise of VC funding or an IPO.

Programming and development

The challenge back then was terminal sharing: finding a way for lots of people to access the (very limited number of) available computers. Before there was a scalable answer for that, and long before we had a shell like Bash , there was the Multics project. It was a hypothetical operating system where hundreds or even thousands of developers could share time on the same system. This was a dream of John McCarty, creator of Lisp and the term artificial intelligence (AI), as I recently explored .

Joy Lisi Ranken, author of A people's history of computing in the United States , describes what happened next. There was a lot of public interest in driving forward with Multics' vision of more universally available timesharing. Academics, scientists, educators, and some in the broader public were looking forward to this computer-powered future. Many advocated for computing as a public utility, akin to electricity, and the push toward timesharing was a global movement.

Up to that point, high-end mainframes topped out at 40-50 terminals per system. The change of scale was ambitious and eventually failed, as Warren Toomey writes in IEEE Spectrum :

"Over five years, AT&T invested millions in the Multics project, purchasing a GE-645 mainframe computer and dedicating to the effort many of the top researchers at the company's renowned Bell Telephone Laboratories -- including Thompson and Ritchie, Joseph F. Ossanna, Stuart Feldman, M. Douglas McIlroy, and the late Robert Morris. But the new system was too ambitious, and it fell troublingly behind schedule. In the end, AT&T's corporate leaders decided to pull the plug."

Bell Labs pulled out of the Multics program in 1969. Multics wasn't going to happen.

The fellowship of the C

Funding wrapped up, and the powerful GE645 mainframe was assigned to other tasks inside Bell Labs. But that didn't discourage everyone.

Among the last holdouts from the Multics project were four men who felt passionately tied to the project: Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Doug McIlroy, and J.F. Ossanna. These four diehards continued to muse and scribble ideas on paper. Thompson and Ritchie developed a game called Space Travel for the PDP-7 minicomputer. While they were working on that, Thompson started implementing all those crazy hand-written ideas about filesystems they'd developed among the wreckage of Multics.

pdp7-minicomputer-oslo-2005.jpeg A PDP-7 minicomputer was not top of line technology at the time, but the team implemented foundational technologies that change the future of programming languages and operating systems alike.

That's worth emphasizing: Some of the original filesystem specifications were written by hand and then programmed on what was effectively a toy compared to the systems they were using to build Multics. Wikipedia's Ken Thompson page dives deeper into what came next:

"While writing Multics, Thompson created the Bon programming language. He also created a video game called Space Travel . Later, Bell Labs withdrew from the MULTICS project. In order to go on playing the game, Thompson found an old PDP-7 machine and rewrote Space Travel on it. Eventually, the tools developed by Thompson became the Unix operating system : Working on a PDP-7, a team of Bell Labs researchers led by Thompson and Ritchie, and including Rudd Canaday, developed a hierarchical file system , the concepts of computer processes and device files , a command-line interpreter , pipes for easy inter-process communication, and some small utility programs. In 1970, Brian Kernighan suggested the name 'Unix,' in a pun on the name 'Multics.' After initial work on Unix, Thompson decided that Unix needed a system programming language and created B , a precursor to Ritchie's C ."

As Walter Toomey documented in the IEEE Spectrum article mentioned above, Unix showed promise in a way the Multics project never materialized. After winning over the team and doing a lot more programming, the pathway to Unix was paved.

Getting from B to C in Unix

Thompson quickly created a Unix language he called B. B inherited much from its predecessor BCPL, but it wasn't enough of a breakaway from older languages. B didn't know data types, for starters. It's considered a typeless language, which meant its "Hello World" program looked like this:

main( ) {
extrn a, b, c;
putchar(a); putchar(b); putchar(c); putchar('!*n');
}

a 'hell';
b 'o, w';
c 'orld';

Even if you're not a programmer, it's clear that carving up strings four characters at a time would be limiting. It's also worth noting that this text is considered the original "Hello World" from Brian Kernighan's 1972 book, A tutorial introduction to the language B (although that claim is not definitive).

640px-unix_history-simple.svg_.png

Typelessness aside, B's assembly-language counterparts were still yielding programs faster than was possible using the B compiler's threaded-code technique. So, from 1971 to 1973, Ritchie modified B. He added a "character type" and built a new compiler so that it didn't have to use threaded code anymore. After two years of work, B had become C.

The right abstraction at the right time

C's use of types and ease of compiling down to efficient assembly code made it the perfect language for the rise of minicomputers, which speak in bytecode. B was eventually overtaken by C. Once C became the language of Unix, it became the de facto standard across the budding computer industry. Unix was the sharing platform of the pre-internet days. The more people wrote C, the better it got, and the more it was adopted. It eventually became an open standard itself. According to the Brief history of C programming language :

"For many years, the de facto standard for C was the version supplied with the Unix operating system. In the summer of 1983 a committee was established to create an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard that would define the C language. The standardization process took six years (much longer than anyone reasonably expected)."

How influential is C today? A quick review reveals:

Decades after they started as scrappy outsiders, Thompson and Ritchie are praised as titans of the programming world. They shared 1983's Turing Award, and in 1998, received the National Medal of Science for their work on the C language and Unix.

c-programming-language-national-medal.jpeg

But Doug McIlroy and J.F. Ossanna deserve their share of praise, too. All four of them are true Command Line Heroes.

Wrapping up the season

Command Line Heroes has completed an entire season of insights into the programming languages that affect how we code today. It's been a joy to learn about these languages and share them with you. I hope you've enjoyed it as well!

[Nov 01, 2019] Monthly Review Absolute Capitalism

Nov 01, 2019 | monthlyreview.org

The French poet Charles Baudelaire wrote in 1864 that "the cleverest ruse of the Devil is to persuade you he does not exist!" 1 I will argue here that this is directly applicable to today's neoliberals, whose devil's ruse is to pretend they do not exist. Although neoliberalism is widely recognized as the central political-ideological project of twenty-first-century capitalism, it is a term that is seldom uttered by those in power. In 2005, the New York Times went so far as to make neoliberalism's nonexistence official by running an article entitled "Neoliberalism? It Doesn't Exist." 2

Behind this particular devil's ruse lies a deeply disturbing, even hellish, reality. Neoliberalism can be defined as an integrated ruling-class political-ideological project, associated with the rise of monopoly-finance capital, the principal strategic aim of which is to embed the state in capitalist market relations. Hence, the state's traditional role in safeguarding social reproduction -- if largely on capitalist-class terms -- is now reduced solely to one of promoting capitalist reproduction. The goal is nothing less than the creation of an absolute capitalism. All of this serves to heighten the extreme human and ecological destructiveness that characterizes our time.

The Origins of Neoliberalism

The notion of neoliberalism is nearly a century old, although its main political influence is much more recent. It first arose as an ideology in the early 1920s in the face of the collapse of liberalism nearly everywhere in Europe, and in response to the rise of German and Austrian social democracy, particularly developments in Red Vienna. 3 It had its first notable appearance in Austrian economist and sociologist Ludwig von Mises's three works: Nation, State, and Economy (1919), Socialism (1922), and Liberalism (1927). 4 Mises's ideas were immediately recognized as representing a sharp departure from classical liberalism, leading the prominent Austro-Marxist Max Adler to coin the term neoliberalism in 1921. Mises's Socialism was subjected to a sharp critique by another gifted Austro-Marxist, Helene Bauer, in 1923 and to a more extended critique entitled "Neoliberalism" by the German Marxist Alfred Meusel, writing for Rudolf Hilferding's Die Gesellschaft in 1924. 5

For Meusel and Bauer, the neoliberal doctrine presented by Mises was far removed from classical liberalism and constituted a new doctrine devised for the era of "mobile capital" or finance capital, of which Mises was a "faithful servant." 6 It was expressly aimed at justifying the concentration of capital, the subordination of the state to the market, and an openly capitalist system of social control. Mises's neoliberalism, Meusel wrote, was characterized by the "merciless radicalism with which he attempts to derive the totality of social manifestations from a single principle" of competition. Everything opposed to the complete ascendance of the competitive principle was characterized by Mises as "destructionism," which he equated with socialism. For Mises, Charles Dickens, William Morris, George Bernard Shaw, H. G. Wells, Émile Zola, Anatole France, and Leo Tolstoy were all "without perhaps being aware of it recruiting agents for Socialism paving the way for destructionism," while actual Marxists were nothing more than destructionists, pure and simple. 7

In Liberalism , Mises explicitly distinguished between "the older liberalism and neoliberalism" on the basis of the former's commitment, at some level, to equality, as opposed to the complete rejection of equality (other than equality of opportunity) by the latter. 8 The question of democracy was resolved by Mises in favor of "a consumers' democracy." Where democracy is concerned, he wrote, "free competition does all that is needed. The lord of production is the consumer." 9

Mises was to exert an enormous influence on his younger follower Friedrich von Hayek, who was originally drawn to Mises's Socialism and who attended Mises's private seminars in Vienna. They shared a hatred of the Austro-Marxists' Red Vienna of the 1920s. In the early 1930s, Hayek left Vienna for the London School of Economics at the invitation of Lionel Robbins, an early British neoliberal economist. Mises took on the role of economic consultant to the Austrofascist Chancellor/dictator Engelbert Dollfuss prior to the Nazi takeover. In his work Liberalism , Mises declared: "It cannot be denied that Fascism and similar movements [on the right] aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history." 10 He later emigrated to Switzerland and then to the United States with the support of the Rockefeller Foundation, taking up a teaching post at New York University.

The Great Transformation Reversed

The most important critique of neoliberalism in the early post-Second World War years was to be Karl Polanyi's attack on the myth of the self-regulating market in The Great Transformation , published in 1944, at a time when the allied victory was already certain and the nature of the postwar order in the West was becoming clear. Polanyi's critique grew out of his earlier defense of Red Vienna in the 1920s, where he had identified to a considerable extent with Austro-Marxists like Adler and Otto Bauer, strongly opposing the views of Mises, Hayek, and others on the right. The neoliberal project, Polanyi explained in The Great Transformation , was to embed social relations in the economy, whereas prior to capitalism the economy had been "embedded in social relations." 11 Polanyi's book, however, appeared in a context in which it was assumed that the neoliberal perspective was all but doomed, with the "great transformation" standing for the triumph of state regulation of the economy, at a time when John Maynard Keynes was recognized as the dominant figure in state-economic policy, in what came to be known as the Age of Keynes.

Nevertheless, Polanyi's deeper concerns regarding attempts to rejuvenate market liberalism were, in part, justified. The Walter Lippmann Colloquium held in France in 1938, just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, with Mises and Hayek both present, had constituted the first step at creating a capitalist international among major intellectual figures. At the time, the term neoliberalism was explicitly adopted by some participants, but was to be later abandoned, no doubt with the memory of the strong critiques that arose in the 1920s. 12 Still, the neoliberal project was taken up again after the war. In 1947, a mere three years after the publication of Polanyi's The Great Transformation , the Mont Pèlerin Society was established. It was to become the institutional basis, along with the University of Chicago Department of Economics, for the reemergence of neoliberal views. A key participant in the inaugural conference, in addition to Mises, Hayek, Robbins, Milton Friedman, and George Stigler, was Karl Polanyi's younger brother, Michael Polanyi, the noted chemist, philosopher of science, and virulent Cold Warrior. 13

Keynesianism dominated the entire period of what is now sometimes called the Golden Age of capitalism in the first quarter-century after the Second World War. But in the mid–1970s, with the appearance of a major economic crisis and the beginnings of economic stagnation first manifested as stagflation, Keynesianism disappeared within the economic orthodoxy. It was to be replaced by neoliberalism, first in the guise of monetarism and supply-side economics, and then in the form of a generalized restructuring of capitalism worldwide and the creation of a market-determined state and society. 14

The critical figure who best captured the essence of neoliberalism almost the moment that it rose to dominance, analyzing it extensively in his 1979 lectures at the Collège de France on The Birth of Biopolitics , was Michel Foucault. 15 As Foucault brilliantly explained, the role of the state is no longer to protect property, as in Adam Smith, or even to be an executive for the common interests of the capitalist class, as in Karl Marx. Rather, its role under neoliberalism became one of the active expansion of the market principle, or the logic of capitalist competition, to all aspects of life, engulfing the state itself. As Foucault wrote,

Instead of accepting a free market defined by the state and kept as it were under state supervision -- which was, in a way, the initial formula of liberalism, [neoliberals] turn the formula around and adopt the free market as [the] organizing and regulating principle of the state. In other words: a state under the supervision of the market rather than a market supervised by the state.

And what is important and decisive in current neo-liberalism can, I think, be situated here. For we should not be under any illusion that today's neo-liberalism is, as is too often said, the resurgence or recurrence of old forms of liberal economics which were formulated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and are now being reactivated by capitalism for a variety of reasons to do with its impotence and crises as well as with some more or less local and determinate political objectives. In actual fact, something much more important is at stake in modern neo-liberalism. What is at issue is whether a market economy can in fact serve as the principle, form, and model for a state which, because of its defects, is mistrusted by everyone on both the right and the left, for one reason or another. 16

In a nutshell, Foucault declared: "The problem of neo-liberalism is how the overall exercise of political power can be modeled on the principles of the market economy." Its single-minded goal is "privatized social policy." 17

In the neoliberal era, the state was not to intervene to counter the effects of the system, but was simply to promote through its interventions the spread of the rule-based system of the market into all recesses of society. It was thus the guarantor of a self-regulating and expansive market, from which neither the society nor the state itself were immune. 18 Monopoly and oligopoly were no longer considered violations of the principle of competition, but mere manifestations of competition itself. 19 Perhaps most important in distinguishing classical liberalism and neoliberalism, according to Foucault, was the emphasis of the former on a fictional equal exchange or quid pro quo . For neoliberalism, in contrast, free competition, reinterpreted to embrace monopoly power and vast inequalities, was the governing principle, not exchange. 20

The overriding of the state's social-reproductive role in favor of neoliberal financialization was most apparent, Foucault argued, in the demise of social insurance, along with all forms of social welfare. In the neoliberal system, "it is up to the individual [to protect himself against risks] through all the reserves he has at his disposal," making the individual prey to big business without any protection from the state. The result of this shift was the further growth of privatized financial assets monopolized by a very few. 21

Neoliberalism, conceived in this way, is the systematic attempt to resolve the base-superstructure problem, perceived as an obstacle to capital, through the introduction of "a general regulation of society by the market" to be carried out by a state -- itself subordinated to the market principle. This new capitalist "singularity" is to be extended to all aspects of society, as an all-inclusive principle from which no exit is possible. 22 Even economic crises are to be taken as mere indicators of the need to extend the logic of the market further.

As Craig Allan Medlen, building on Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy's Monopoly Capital , explains in Free Cash, Capital Accumulation and Inequality , today's neoliberal order involves a systematic shift in the "boundary line" between state economic activities and the private sector. This boundary line has now shifted decisively against the state, leaving little room for the state's own consumption and investment, outside of the military sector, and with the state increasingly subsidizing the market and capital through its fiscal and monetary operations. 23

When neoliberalism reemerged in the late 1970s, it was thus as an opportunistic virus in a period of economic sickness. 24 The crisis of Keynesianism was related to deepening problems of surplus capital absorption or overaccumulation in the developing monopoly-capitalist economy. Neoliberal restructuring arose in these circumstances first in the forms of monetarism and supply-side economics, and then evolved into its current form with the financialization of the system, itself a response to economic stagnation. With the growth of excess capacity and stagnant investment, money capital increasingly flowed into the financial sector, which invented new financial instruments with which to absorb it. 25 Financial bubbles propelled the economy forward. None of this, however, removed the underlying stagnation tendency. In the decade since the Great Recession, as distinguished from all previous post-Second World War decades, the capacity-utilization rate in manufacturing in the United States has never surpassed 80 percent -- a level chronically insufficient to ignite net investment. 26

All of this reflects the transition from twentieth-century monopoly capital to twenty-first-century monopoly-finance capital. 27 This is evident in an explosion of credit and debt, institutionalized within the system despite periodic financial crises, leading to a whole new financial architecture for amassing wealth. The seizure of excess profits on a world scale through the new imperialism of the global labor arbitrage was made possible by digital systems of financial and technological control, and the opening of the world market after 1989. All of this has culminated in a globalized process of financialization and value capture, directed by the financial headquarters of multinational corporations at the apex of the capitalist world economy. 28

The diminishing role of the state both as an instrument of popular sovereignty and of social protection has led to a crisis of liberal democracy. The greatest inequality in history plus the undermining of the economic and social conditions of the vast majority of the population has given rise to massive, but still largely inarticulate, discontent. 29 Capital's response to this destabilizing situation has been to try to mobilize the largely reactionary lower-middle class against both the upper-middle class and the working class (especially through racist attacks on immigrants), while making the state outside the market the enemy -- a strategy that David Harvey has recently referred to as a developing "alliance" between neoliberalism and neofascism. 30

Absolute Capitalism and Social-System Failure

In Foucault's interpretation, neoliberalism is as remote from laissez-faire as it is from Keynesianism. As Hayek argued in The Constitution of Liberty , the neoliberal state is an interventionist, not laissez-faire, state precisely because it becomes the embodiment of a rule-governed, market-dictated economic order and is concerned with perpetuating and extending that order to the whole of society. If the neoliberal state is noninterventionist in relation to the economic sphere, it is all the more interventionist in its application of commodity principles to all other aspects of life, such as education, insurance, communications, health care, and the environment. 31

In this ideal, restructured neoliberal order, the state is the embodiment of the market and is supreme only insofar as it represents the law of value, which in Hayek's terms is virtually synonymous with the "rule of law." 32 The hegemonic class-property relations are encoded in the juridical structure and the state itself is reduced to these formal economic codes embodied in the legal system. 33 What Hayek means by "the rule of law," according to Foucault, is the imposition of "formal economic legislation" that "is quite simply the opposite of a plan. It is the opposite of planning." The object is to establish "rules of the game" that prevent any deviation from the logic of commodity exchange or capitalist competition, while extending these relations further into society, with the state as the ultimate guarantor of market supremacy. 34 Foucault contends that this principle was most explicitly enunciated by Michael Polanyi, who wrote in The Logic of Liberty : "The main function of the existing spontaneous order of jurisdiction is to govern the spontaneous order of economic life. [The] system of law develops and enforces the rules under which the competitive system of production and distribution operates." 35

Hence, the supremacy of the dominant social relations of production or hegemonic class-property forms is encoded in the rule of a commodified legal structure. The new Leviathan, which has discarded any precapitalist trappings, is no longer a force above or external to the realm of commodity exchange -- that is, a superstructure -- but is subordinated to the logic of the market, which it is its role to enforce. 36 This, Foucault suggests, is Max Weber's rational-legal order, which turns out to be simply the imposition of formal economic relations circumscribing the state. At the same time, the state is given the role of enforcing this new privatized order through its monopoly of the legitimate use of force. 37

Hence, Abraham Bosse's famous frontispiece for Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan , depicting the giant sovereign composed of individuals who have transferred their sovereignty to the monarch, would today take the form of a giant rational-legal individual in a two-piece suit composed internally of corporations, replacing the multitude. 38 The crownless sovereign power would now be portrayed as holding not a scepter in one hand and a sword in the other, but the fourteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution (originally meant to ensure the rights of former slaves but transformed into the basis of corporate personhood) in one hand and a cruise missile in the other. The neoliberal Leviathan is a state that increasingly has a single function and follows a single market logic -- and in those terms alone it is absolute and represents an absolutist capitalism.

Naturally, absolute capitalism is not without contradictions, of which five stand out: economic, imperial, political, social-reproductive, and environmental. Together, they point to a general system failure. The economic-crisis tendencies are best viewed from the standpoint of Marx's wider critique of the laws of motion of capital. Economically, neoliberalism is a historical-structural product of an age of mobile monopoly-finance capital that now operates globally through commodity chains, controlled by the financial headquarters of the multinational corporations in the core of the world economy, which dominate international capital flows. 39 The inherent instability of the new absolute capitalism was marked by the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–9. 40 Overaccumulation and stagnation remain the central economic contradictions of the system, leading to corporate mergers and financialization (the shift toward the amassing of financial assets by speculative means) as the main countervailing factors. All of this, however, simply exacerbates the top-heavy character of twenty-first-century capitalism intensifying its already-existing long-term tendencies toward disequilibrium and crisis. 41

Neoliberal globalization refers specifically to the system of global labor arbitrage and commodity chains, coupled with the growth of worldwide monopolies. The fulcrum of this form of imperialism is the systematic exploitation of the fact that the difference in wages between the global North and South is greater than the difference in their productivities. This creates a situation whereby the low unit labor costs in emerging economies in the global South become the basis of today's supply chains and the new system of value capture. 42 These international economic conditions mark the advent of a new imperialism that is generating increasing global inequality, instability, and world struggle, made worse in our age by declining U.S. hegemony, which points to the prospect of widening and unlimited war.

As indicated above, the neoliberal regime represents a new synergy of state and market, with the increasing subordination of the social-reproduction activities of the state to capitalist reproduction. Whole sections of the state, such as central banking, and the main mechanisms of monetary policy, are outside effective governmental control and under the sway of financial capital. Under these circumstances, the state is increasingly viewed by the population today as an alien entity. This raises contradictions with respect to the three key social classes below the super-rich and the rich: the upper-middle class, the lower-middle class, and the working class.

In a broad sketch focusing on advanced capitalist society, the upper-middle class can be seen as consisting predominantly of a professional-technical stratum deeply suspicious of any attacks on government, since its position is dependent not simply on its economic class but also on the general system of political rights. It is therefore wedded to the liberal-democratic state. In contrast, when taken by itself, the lower-middle class, made up mainly of small business owners, middle management, and corporate-based white-collar salaried and sales workers (particularly the white, less-educated, rural, and fundamentalist-religious sectors), is generally antistate, procapital, and nationalist. It sees the state as chiefly benefitting its two main enemies: the upper-middle class and the working class -- the former perceived as benefitting directly from the state, the latter increasingly designated in racial terms. 43 The lower-middle class includes what C. Wright Mills called "the rearguarders" of the capitalist system, mobilized by the wealthy in times of crisis when a defense of capitalist interests is considered essential, but represents in itself an extremely volatile element of society. 44 The working class, essentially the bottom 60 percent of income earners in the United States, is the most oppressed and most diverse population (and thus the most divided), but nonetheless the enemy of capital. 45

The biggest threat to capital today, as in the past, is the working class. This is true both in the advanced capitalist countries themselves and even more so in the periphery, where the working class overlaps with the dispossessed peasantry. The working class is most powerful when able to combine with other subaltern classes as part of a hegemonic bloc led by workers (this is the real meaning of the Occupy Wall Street movement's "we are the 99%").

The 1 percent thus find themselves potentially without a political base, which remains necessary to continue the neoliberal, absolute-capitalist project. Thus, from Donald Trump to Jair Bolsonaro, we see the emergence of a tenuous working relationship between neoliberalism and neofascism, meant to bring the rear guard of the system into play. Here, the goal is to enlist the white, rural, religious, nationalistic lower-middle class as a political-ideological army on behalf of capital. But this is fraught with dangers associated with right-wing populism and ultimately threatens the demise of the liberal-democratic state. 46

The major gender, race, community, and class contradictions of capitalist society today reflect crises that extend beyond the narrow confines of workplace exploitation to the wider structures in which the lives of working people are embedded, including the major sites of social reproduction: family, community, education, health systems, communications, transportation, and the environment. The destruction of these sites of social reproduction, along with deteriorating working conditions, has brought back what Frederick Engels called "social murder," manifested in the declining life expectancy in recent years in the mature capitalist economies. 47 It is in these wider social domains that such issues as the feminization of poverty, racial capitalism, homelessness, urban-community decay, gentrification, financial expropriation, and ecological decline manifest themselves, creating the wider terrains of class, race, social-reproductive, and environmental struggle, which today are merging to a remarkable degree in response to neoliberal absolute capitalism. 48

The conflict between absolute capitalism and the environment is the most serious contradiction characterizing the system in this (or any)phase, raising the question of a "death spiral" in the human relation to the earth in the course of the present century. 49 The age of ecological reform, in the 1970s, was soon displaced by a new age of environmental excess. In absolute capitalism, absolute, abstract value dominates. In a system that focuses above all on financial wealth, exchange value is removed from any direct connection to use value. The inevitable result is a fundamental and rapidly growing rift between capitalist commodity society and the planet.

Exterminism or Revolution

As we have seen, Mises employed the notion of destructionism to characterize the role of socialism. So important was this in his perspective that he devoted the entire fifty-page-long Part 5 of his book Socialism to this topic. "Socialism," he wrote, "does not build; it destroys. For destruction is the essence of it." It simply carries out the "consumption of capital" with no replacement or increase. Destructionism was best characterized, in his view, as a society that in the present consumed to the utmost extent, with no concern for the future of humanity -- a future which he saw as residing in the accumulation of capital. 50

Ironically, today's monopoly-finance capital is typified by the very kinds of absolute destructionism that Mises so deplored. Although technological change (particularly via the military) continues to advance, capital accumulation (investment) is stagnant at the center of the system, except where spurred on temporarily by tax cuts on corporations and privatization of state activities. Meanwhile, income and wealth inequality is rising to stratospheric levels; workers worldwide are experiencing a decline in material conditions (economic, social, and ecological); and the entire planet as a place of human habitation is in jeopardy. All this is the result of a system geared toward the most egregious forms of exploitation, expropriation, waste, and predation on a world scale. Science now tells us that the capitalist juggernaut, if present trends continue , will soon undermine industrial civilization and threaten human survival itself -- with many of the worst effects occurring during the lifetime of today's younger generations.

A useful reference point, with which to gain a historical and theoretical perspective on the present planetary emergency, is Marx and Engels's analysis of conditions in colonial Ireland from the 1850s to the 1870s. 51 Here, the operative term was extermination . As Marx wrote in 1859, English (and Anglo-Irish) capitalists after 1846 -- marking the Great Irish Famine and the Repeal of the Corn Laws -- were involved in "a fiendish war of extermination against the cotters," or the mass of Irish peasant subsistence farmers "ground to the dust" and dependent on the cultivation of potatoes as a subsistence crop. Irish soil nutrients were being exported with Irish grain, without return, to feed English industry. 52 The decades immediately following the Great Famine were thus referred to by Engels as the Period of Extermination . 53 The term extermination as used here by Marx and Engels, along with many of their contemporaries, had two related meanings at the time: expulsion and annihilation . 54 Extermination thus summed up the terrible conditions then facing the Irish.

At the root of the Irish problem in the mid–nineteenth century was a "more severe form of the metabolic rift" associated with the colonial system. 55 With the gradual expulsion and annihilation after 1846 of the poor peasant farmers, who had been responsible for fertilizing the soil, the entire fragile ecological balance underlying the production of crops and the replacement of nutrients in Ireland was destabilized. This encouraged further rounds of clearances, expulsion of the peasantry, consolidation of farms, and the replacement of tillage with pasture geared to English meat consumption. The Irish peasants were thus faced, as Marx put it in 1867, with a choice between "ruin or revolution." 56

Today, analogous conditions are arising on a planetary scale, with subsistence farmers everywhere finding their conditions undermined by the force of global imperialism. Moreover, ecological destruction is no longer mainly confined to the soil, but has been extended to the entire Earth System, including the climate, endangering the population of the earth in general and further devastating those already existing in the most fragile conditions. In the 1980s, Marxist historian E. P. Thompson famously penned "Notes on Exterminism, the Last Stage of Civilisation" examining planetary nuclear and environmental threats. 57 It is no secret that human lives in the hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, are threatened this century by material destruction -- ecological, economic, and military/imperial. Innumerable numbers of species are now on the brink of extinction. Industrial civilization itself faces collapse with a 4°C increase in global average temperature, which even the World Bank says is imminent with the continuation of today's business as usual. 58 Hence, the old socialist slogan famously associated with Rosa Luxemburg, Socialism or Barbarism! , is no longer adequate and must be replaced either by Socialism or Exterminism! , or with Marx's Ruin or Revolution!

The neoliberal drive to absolute capitalism is accelerating the world toward exterminism or destructionism on a planetary scale. In perpetrating this demolition, capital and the state are united as never before in the post-Second World War world. But humanity still has a choice: a long ecological revolution from below aimed at safeguarding the earth and creating a world of substantive equality, ecological sustainability, and satisfaction of communal needs -- an ecosocialism for the twenty-first century.

[Oct 31, 2019] Globalists The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism Quinn Slobodian 9780674979529 Amazon.com Books

Notable quotes:
"... The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state. ..."
"... The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system. ..."
"... The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well. ..."
"... He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe. ..."
"... But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000. ..."
"... I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars. ..."
"... It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press. ..."
"... However, most importantly it follows the thinking and the thoughts behind the building of a global empire of capitalism with free trade, capital and rights. All the way to the new "human right" to trade. It narrows down what neoliberal thought really consist of and indirectly make a differentiation to the neoclassical economic tradition. ..."
"... Slobodan does a really masterful exposition of the roots of neoliberalism and neoliberals like Von Mises and Hayek by going all the way back to the 'Geneva School'. It is amazing to see the dedication and devotion of these water carriers for the owners of capital spend their entire life times devising subtle and sleight of hand schemes and methods to basically subvert society to serve the owners of capital. Fantastic work Slobodan. I await your next work. ..."
Oct 31, 2019 | www.amazon.com

Chosen by Pankaj Mishra as one of the Best Books of the Summer

Neoliberals hate the state. Or do they? In the first intellectual history of neoliberal globalism, Quinn Slobodian follows a group of thinkers from the ashes of the Habsburg Empire to the creation of the World Trade Organization to show that neoliberalism emerged less to shrink government and abolish regulations than to redeploy them at a global level.

Slobodian begins in Austria in the 1920s. Empires were dissolving and nationalism, socialism, and democratic self-determination threatened the stability of the global capitalist system. In response, Austrian intellectuals called for a new way of organizing the world. But they and their successors in academia and government, from such famous economists as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to influential but lesser-known figures such as Wilhelm Röpke and Michael Heilperin, did not propose a regime of laissez-faire. Rather they used states and global institutions―the League of Nations, the European Court of Justice, the World Trade Organization, and international investment law―to insulate the markets against sovereign states, political change, and turbulent democratic demands for greater equality and social justice.

Far from discarding the regulatory state, neoliberals wanted to harness it to their grand project of protecting capitalism on a global scale. It was a project, Slobodian shows, that changed the world, but that was also undermined time and again by the inequality, relentless change, and social injustice that accompanied it. >


Mark bennett , May 14, 2018

One half of a decent book

This is a rather interesting look at the political and economic ideas of a circle of important economists, including Hayek and von Mises, over the course of the last century. He shows rather convincingly that conventional narratives concerning their idea are wrong. That they didn't believe in a weak state, didn't believe in the laissez-faire capitalism or believe in the power of the market. That they saw mass democracy as a threat to vested economic interests.

The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state.

The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system.

The author shows how, over a period extending from the 1920s to the 1990s, these ideas evolved from marginal academic ideas to being dominant ideas internationally. Ideas that are reflected today in the structure of the European Union, the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the policies of most national governments. These ideas, which the author calls "neoliberalism", have today become almost assumptions beyond challenge. And even more strangely, the dominating ideas of the political left in most of the west.

The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well.

In reading it, I started to wonder about the differences between modern neoliberalism and the liberal political movement during the industrial revolution. I really began to wonder about the actual motives of "reform" liberals in that era. Were they genuinely interested in reforms during that era or were all the reforms just cynical politics designed to enhance business power at the expense of other vested interests. Was, in particular, the liberal interest in political reform and franchise expansion a genuine move toward political democracy or simply a temporary ploy to increase their political power. If one assumes that the true principles of classic liberalism were always free trade, free migration of labor and removing the power to governments to impact business, perhaps its collapse around the time of the first world war is easier to understand.

He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe.

To me at least, the analysis of the author was rather original. In particular, he did an excellent job of showing how the ideas of Hayek and von Mises have been distorted and misunderstood in the mainstream. He was able to show what their ideas were and how they relate to contemporary problems of government and democracy.

But there are some strong negatives in the book. The author offers up a complete virtue signaling chapter to prove how the neoliberals are racists. He brings up things, like the John Birch Society, that have nothing to do with the book. He unleashes a whole lot of venom directed at American conservatives and republicans mostly set against a 1960s backdrop.

He does all this in a bad purpose: to claim that the Kennedy Administration was somehow a continuation of the new deal rather than a step toward neoliberalism.

His blindness and modern political partisanship extended backward into history does substantial damage to his argument in the book. He also spends an inordinate amount of time on the political issues of South Africa which also adds nothing to the argument of the book. His whole chapter on racism is an elaborate strawman all held together by Ropke. He also spends a large amount of time grinding some sort of Ax with regard to the National Review and William F. Buckley.

He keeps resorting to the simple formula of finding something racist said or written by Ropke....and then inferring that anyone who quoted or had anything to do with Ropke shared his ideas and was also a racist. The whole point of the exercise seems to be to avoid any analysis of how the democratic party (and the political left) drifted over the decades from the politics of the New Deal to neoliberal Clintonism.

Then after that, he diverts further off the path by spending many pages on the greatness of the "global south", the G77 and the New International Economic Order (NIEO) promoted by the UN in the 1970s.

And whatever many faults of neoliberalism, Quinn Slobodian ends up standing for a worse set of ideas: International Price controls, economic "reparations", nationalization, international trade subsidies and a five-year plan for the world (socialist style economic planning at a global level). In attaching himself to these particular ideas, he kills his own book. The premise of the book and his argument was very strong at first. But by around p. 220, its become a throwback political tract in favor of the garbage economic and political ideas of the so-called third world circa 1974 complete with 70's style extensive quotations from "Senegalese jurists"

Once the political agenda comes out, he just can't help himself. He opens the conclusion to the book taking another cheap shot for no clear reason at William F. Buckley. He spends alot of time on the Seattle anti-WTO protests from the 1990s. But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000.

I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars. Though it could have been far better if he had written his history of neoliberalism in the context of the counter-narrative of Keynesian economics and its decline.

It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press.

Jesper Doepping , November 14, 2018
A concise definition of neoliberalism and its historical influence

Anybody interested in global trade, business, human rights or democracy today should read this book.

The book follow the Austrians from the beginning in the Habsburgischer empire to the beginning rebellion against the WTO. However, most importantly it follows the thinking and the thoughts behind the building of a global empire of capitalism with free trade, capital and rights. All the way to the new "human right" to trade. It narrows down what neoliberal thought really consist of and indirectly make a differentiation to the neoclassical economic tradition.

What I found most interesting is the turn from economics to law - and the conceptual distinctions between the genes, tradition, reason, which are translated into a quest for a rational and reason based protection of dominium (the rule of property) against the overreach of imperium (the rule of states/people). This distinction speaks directly to the issues that EU is currently facing.

Edoardo Angeloni , January 1, 2019
A very interesting book about the modern society.

The author explicates how with Hayek and von Mises the economics of the central Europe has had a development, such that we can consider it a true entry in the modernity.

The structures which the neo-liberalism introduced were truly important for allowing the social progress. So some politicians have had the way for following particular models, which also today are considered with interest by many experts. The result is that the globalization has given to the several countries the same possibility . This competence has a strong value, because the author has a clear style and an efficient vision of the reality.

<img src="https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/S/amazon-avatars-global/default._CR0,0,1024,1024_SX48_.png"/> PaulArt , November 30, 2018
Neoliberalism - Present at Creation

This is a fantastic God send for those who are interested in the neoliberal disease that has caught this globe in the last 3 decades. It is different from other books like 'A Brief History of Neoliberalism' by David Harvey.

The difference is that Slobodan does a really masterful exposition of the roots of neoliberalism and neoliberals like Von Mises and Hayek by going all the way back to the 'Geneva School'. It is amazing to see the dedication and devotion of these water carriers for the owners of capital spend their entire life times devising subtle and sleight of hand schemes and methods to basically subvert society to serve the owners of capital. Fantastic work Slobodan. I await your next work.

[Oct 23, 2019] Internet Archive Releases 2,500 MS-DOS Games

Oct 23, 2019 | games.slashdot.org

(cnet.com) 58 BeauHD on Monday October 14, 2019 @10:10PM from the nostalgia-blast dept. The latest update from Internet Archive brings thousands of MS-DOS games from the '90s like 3D Bomber, Zool and Alien Rampage. CNET reports: On Sunday, Internet Archive released 2,500 MS-DOS games that includes action, strategy and adventure titles. Some of the games are Vor Terra, Spooky Kooky Monster Maker, Princess Maker 2 and I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream. "This will be our biggest update yet, ranging from tiny recent independent productions to long-forgotten big-name releases from decades ago," Internet Archive software curator Jason Scott wrote on the site's blog .

One game that might trigger a few memories is the 1992 action-adventure horror game Alone in the Dark , published by Infogrames. In the game, you can play private investigator Edward Carnby or family member Emily Hartwood, who's investigating the suspicious death of Jeremy Hartwood in his Louisiana mansion called Derceto, which is now supposedly haunted. Fighting against rats, zombies and giant worms, you have to solve a number of puzzles to escape. Another retro game included by Internet Archive is a 1994 title played on PCs and Amiga computers called Mr. Blobby (a remake of the SNES game Super Troll Islands). Players can choose from three different characters -- Mr. Blobby, Mrs. Blobby and Baby Blobby. The goal of the game is to color in the computer screen by walking over it. Levels include climbing ladders, avoiding spikes and bouncing on springs.

[Oct 22, 2019] Wired Remembers the Glory Days of Flash

Oct 22, 2019 | tech.slashdot.org

(wired.co.uk) 95

They write that its early popularity in the mid-1990s came in part because "Microsoft needed software capable of showing video on their website, MSN.com, then the default homepage of every Internet Explorer user." But Flash allowed anyone to become an animator. (One Disney artist tells them that Flash could do in three days what would take a professional animator 7 months -- and cost $10,000.)

Their article opens in 2008, a golden age when Flash was installed on 98% of desktops -- then looks back on its impact: The online world Flash entered was largely static. Blinking GIFs delivered the majority of online movement. Constructed in early HTML and CSS, websites lifted clumsily from the metaphors of magazine design: boxy and grid-like, they sported borders and sidebars and little clickable numbers to flick through their pages (the horror).

Flash changed all that. It transformed the look of the web ...

Some of these websites were, to put it succinctly, absolute trash. Flash was applied enthusiastically and inappropriately. The gratuitous animation of restaurant websites was particularly grievous -- kitsch abominations, these could feature thumping bass music and teleporting ingredients . Ishkur's 'guide to electronic music' is a notable example from the era you can still view -- a chaos of pop arty lines and bubbles and audio samples, it looks like the mind map of a naughty child...

In contrast to the web's modern, business-like aesthetic, there is something bizarre, almost sentimental, about billion-dollar multinationals producing websites in line with Flash's worst excess: long loading times, gaudy cartoonish graphics, intrusive sound and incomprehensible purpose... "Back in 2007, you could be making Flash games and actually be making a living," remembers Newgrounds founder Tom Fulp, when asked about Flash's golden age. "That was a really fun time, because that's kind of what everyone's dream is: to make the games you want and be able to make a living off it."
Wired summarizes Steve Jobs' "brutally candid" diatribe against Flash in 2010. "Flash drained batteries. It ran slow. It was a security nightmare. He asserted that an era had come to an end... '[T]he mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards -- all areas where Flash falls short.'" Wired also argues that "It was economically viable for him to rubbish Flash -- he wanted to encourage people to create native games for iOS."

But they also write that today, "The post-Flash internet looks different. The software's downfall precipitated the rise of a new aesthetic...one moulded by the specifications of the smartphone and the growth of social media," favoring hits of information rather than striving for more immersive, movie-emulating thrills.

And they add that though Newgrounds long-ago moved away from Flash, the site's founder is now working on a Flash emulator to keep all that early classic content playable in a browser.

[Oct 13, 2019] https://www.quora.com/If-Donald-Knuth-were-25-years-old-today-which-programming-language-would-he-choose

Notable quotes:
"... He mostly writes in C today. ..."
Oct 13, 2019 | www.quora.com

Eugene Miya , A friend/colleague. Sometimes driver. Other shared experiences. Updated Mar 22 2017 · Author has 11.2k answers and 7.9m answer views

He mostly writes in C today.

I can assure you he at least knows about Python. Guido's office at Dropbox is 1 -- 2 blocks by a backdoor gate from Don's house.

I would tend to doubt that he would use R (I've used S before as one of my stat packages). Don would probably write something for himself.

Don is not big on functional languages, so I would doubt either Haskell (sorry Paul) or LISP (but McCarthy lived just around the corner from Don; I used to drive him to meetings; actually, I've driven all 3 of us to meetings, and he got his wife an electric version of my car based on riding in my car (score one for friend's choices)). He does use emacs and he does write MLISP macros, but he believes in being closer to the hardware which is why he sticks with MMIX (and MIX) in his books.

Don't discount him learning the machine language of a given architecture.

I'm having dinner with Don and Jill and a dozen other mutual friends in 3 weeks or so (our quarterly dinner). I can ask him then, if I remember (either a calendar entry or at job). I try not to bother him with things like this. Don is well connected to the hacker community

Don's name was brought up at an undergrad architecture seminar today, but Don was not in the audience (an amazing audience; I took a photo for the collection of architects and other computer scientists in the audience (Hennessey and Patterson were talking)). I came close to biking by his house on my way back home.

We do have a mutual friend (actually, I introduced Don to my biology friend at Don's request) who arrives next week, and Don is my wine drinking proxy. So there is a chance I may see him sooner.

Steven de Rooij , Theoretical computer scientist Answered Mar 9, 2017 · Author has 4.6k answers and 7.7m answer views

Nice question :-)

Don Knuth would want to use something that’s low level, because details matter . So no Haskell; LISP is borderline. Perhaps if the Lisp machine ever had become a thing.

He’d want something with well-defined and simple semantics, so definitely no R. Python also contains quite a few strange ad hoc rules, especially in its OO and lambda features. Yes Python is easy to learn and it looks pretty, but Don doesn’t care about superficialities like that. He’d want a language whose version number is converging to a mathematical constant, which is also not in favor of R or Python.

What remains is C. Out of the five languages listed, my guess is Don would pick that one. But actually, his own old choice of Pascal suits him even better. I don’t think any languages have been invented since was written that score higher on the Knuthometer than Knuth’s own original pick.

And yes, I feel that this is actually a conclusion that bears some thinking about. 24.1k views ·

Dan Allen , I've been programming for 34 years now. Still not finished. Answered Mar 9, 2017 · Author has 4.5k answers and 1.8m answer views

In The Art of Computer Programming I think he'd do exactly what he did. He'd invent his own architecture and implement programs in an assembly language targeting that theoretical machine.

He did that for a reason because he wanted to reveal the detail of algorithms at the lowest level of detail which is machine level.

He didn't use any available languages at the time and I don't see why that would suit his purpose now. All the languages above are too high-level for his purposes.

[Oct 01, 2019] Soviet Computing in the 1980s A Survey of the Software and Its Applications - ScienceDirect

Oct 01, 2019 | www.sciencedirect.com

Advances in Computers Volume 30 , 1990, Pages 223-306

The chapter surveys some aspects of the Soviet computer software world and examines how computers applied in several fields enjoy a high level of official support. The chapter examines seven major areas of computer applications in the USSR. Various automated systems of management and control (ASU) are discussed. The state of computing in Soviet research and development organizations, which found themselves low on the priority list when it came to allocating computer and communications technology until the mid 1980s is also described. Computer networking is also developing very slowly in the USSR. The Ministry of Telecommunications is hostile to data communications and places various impediments in the way of organizations desiring to use the switched network for this purpose. The chapter reviews Soviet educational computing. Computer courses with a curriculum stressing the development of programming skills and "algorithmic thinking" were introduced into Soviet schools. Computer Aided Design (CAD) is the latest applications area of highest priority. The chapter emphasizes that without radical change, the Soviet software industry will be unable to satisfy domestic demand for high-quality software. The consequence is that Western software will be in great and growing demand, which raises a policy question for the United States and its software industry.

[Oct 01, 2019] What Were Soviet Computers Like?

Feb 01, 2002 | ask.slashdot.org

80 kwertii asks: "Does anyone have any information on computing in the former Soviet Union? A Google search turned up this virtual museum , which has some good historical background on the development of early Soviet computer technology (a lot only in Russian, unfortunately) but not much on later systems. What sorts of architectures did Soviet computers use? Were there any radically different computing concepts in use, like a standard 9-bit byte or something? What kind of operating systems were common? How has the end of the Cold War and the large scale introduction of Western computer technology affected the course of Russian computer development?"

https://ask.slashdot.org/story/02/02/18/0415223/what-were-soviet-computers-like


Bob_Robertson ( 454888 ) , Monday February 18, 2002 @09:21PM ( #3029642 ) Homepage

Like IBM's. ( Score: 4 , Interesting)

The reality is that the KGB was stealing American computer designs from the beginning. As Glastnost was coming into being, and the "west" was getting a look into how things worked inside the Soviet system, they discovered that they were running clones of the IBM 360's.

I've seen an interview recently with an ex-KGB big-wig who said he realized how bankrupt the Soviet system was as he learned how little they developed "in house" rather than copied from the west. The Soviets were always one or two generations of technology behind simply because they weren't inventing it.

Bob

Xunker ( 6905 ) , Monday February 18, 2002 @09:26PM ( #3029665 ) Homepage Journal
Another.. ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

An an slightly different node, I found this link a while ago that discusses, in great depth, Sinclair Clones [nvg.ntnu.no] from the late 1970's to the early 1990's.

Another thing I remember reading a long while ago was an article in "A+/Incider" magazine (and Apple II magazine) where the cover story was the giant headline "Red Apples"; in it they talked about a close of the Apple IIe that looked like a negative of the Apple IIe we know (black case, white keys), but otherwise was more or less the same -- compatible logic, just made somewhere else. I may even throw that coppy in my flatbed if there is enoguh interest.

If I had to guess, all but either very high-end or very early machine will be of the same designs as western counterparts, probably for engineering reasons because an engineer doesn't want to reinvent the wheel (or bitwise logic in this case) just to make machine to do word processing.

morcheeba ( 260908 ) writes:
Re:Another.. ( Score: 3 , Informative)

Here's some info on the Agat [old-computers.com] - a clone of an Apple II.

If you want to buy an old Russian computer, try here (has many pictures!) [seller2001.euro.ru]. I don't know if this guy's stock is representative of 1980's Russian computing, but it contains a lot (31) of Sinclair clones [seller2001.euro.ru], and information on other computers, including IBM PC-compatibles [seller2001.euro.ru]. If nothing, the names listed should help searches.

deicide ( 195 ) writes:
Re:Another.. ( Score: 2 , Informative)

Sinclair clones are VERY representative of personal computer market of that time. There were literally dozens of variants, with various extensions and addons, custom operating systems, modified OS, etc. They were self-made (I've had one of those, total cost: $20), with mass-produced pc boards and cases, and even factory-made (even with OS translated to Russian.

Most of them connected to a TV and used tape recorders for storage. Eventually, I had a dot-matrix printer and could've gotten a 5" floppy drive if I really wanted. I've seen mice, modems and light pens. I've seen cable and broadcast tv system's audio channel used to broadcast binary data when station wasn't broadcasting regular programming (would that be predecessor to cable modems?) We would record audio to tapes and then load them back into computer.

There were clones of 286 PC's as well (Poisk), although that was just about when I moved to this side of the ocean..

There were also completely original computers with BASIC or FORTRAN interpreter as "operating system".

Tipsy McStagger ( 312800 ) writes:
Re:Another.. ( Score: 1 )

heh he.. sinclair modems.

I remember trying to set up a system with a friend across town where the spectrums were wired up to mangled phones and we'd send messages by saving a program across the phone that the other end would load and then repeat... each message also included the basic app required to send the next one - or something - I forget now

Anonymous Coward writes:
Re:Another.. ( Score: 2 , Interesting)

I live in the USSR. Most of what I saw where:

- Z80 machines running CP/M or custom operating systems like the DIOS

- Sinclair clones

When the opening to the west happened, there was a huge leap in technology because 286 and 386SX PCs were brought.

I was fortunate enough to have one, and it seemed to me, at that time, that they had gigantic CPU power and a huge memory.

I was running benchmarks all the time to compare my 386sx with my Sinclair.

My 386sx was about 10-15 times faster, and had 15 times more memory!

How was that for a leap?

Now in Eastern Europe we have very good programmers. Why?

Because, when the outside world is not that interesting and funny, more and more people have fun (I mean, programming is lots of fun) with their computers!

Thank you for your time reading this, and sorry for posting as AC. I don't have a ./ account and I find logging it each time in order to read ./ is pretty hard.

cwebster ( 100824 ) writes:
Re:Another.. ( Score: 1 )

>Thank you for your time reading this, and sorry for posting as AC. I don't have a ./ account and I find logging it each time in order to read ./ is pretty hard.

you know, you can cookie your logon and only have to actually log on once a year, when your cookie expires.

Ratface ( 21117 ) writes:
Re:Another.. ( Score: 2 )

They have (had?) one of the Russian Sinclair clones in a display case by the stairs at the staff entrance of the National Science Museum in London when I was there (~5 years ago).

First time I had ever seen one. I've often thought how much fun it must have been trying to deal with the strange 5 functions / key system that the Spectrum had PLUS having everything in Cyrrilic(sp?)!

I'd love to pick up one of those babies!

eufaula ( 163352 ) writes:
Re:Another.. -- Pravetz ( Score: 3 , Interesting)

I have a good friend who is from Bulgaria, and there they mass-produced an apple IIe knockoff called the Pravetz. they reverse engineered the apple and started making their own version. He said that they ended up being more powerful than any of the apple II line.

People like the Dark Avenger (ever had a real computer virus? he probably wrote it) grew up hacking these things. anyway, they are mentioned in a really good wired article [wired.com] about the Dark Avenger and the Soviet Bloc's more recent computing history, and Woz even has a picture of one [woz.org] on his website.

Anonymous Coward , Monday February 18, 2002 @10:15PM ( #3029732 )
link ( Score: 5 , Informative)

http://rickman.com/brett/russian_computing/ -- also has bibliography to printed materials

RGRistroph ( 86936 ) writes:
Re:link ( Score: 2 )

Mod parent up -- it's one of the only two informative posts so far (and no, that guy ranting about how you have to go to the library to do research is not insightful)

Link for the lazy:

http://rickman.com/brett/russian_computing/ [rickman.com]

clem.dickey ( 102292 ) , Tuesday February 19, 2002 @12:14AM ( #3030100 )
Ryad line ( Score: 4 , Informative)

In the late 70s or early 80s ACM's "Computing Surveys" ran an article on Soviet computing. Here's what I remember:

The Soviets said that military computers were generally original designs.

Most of the commercial computers were either IBM 360/370 models diverted through 3rd countries (direct exports were prohibited) or the Soviet "Ryad" line. Ryads were 360/370 copies. Not having to worry about copyright andd patent issues, the East copied IBM mainframes directly. IBM engineers recognized an I/O problem with one Soviet model, since the IBM original had the same problem. Just as the 360 model development was split among groups in Poughkeepsie and Endicott, different Soviet Bloc countries were assigned development/manufacturiing responsibility for the copies.

Software was, of course, pirated OS/360. (Back in those days, software came with source.)

RGRistroph ( 86936 ) writes: < rgristroph@gmail.com > on Tuesday February 19, 2002 @12:54AM ( #3030261 ) Homepage
Re:Ryad line ( Score: 5 , Informative)

I found the acm.org's site search to be unusable on linux/mozilla, which is ironic -- however, a Google search on "soviet site:acm.org" [google.com] turned up some interesting papers available as pdf (special tribute to Russian Dmitry Sklyarov ?):

There are more, but the google search page is probably the place to go, rather than me cutting-and-pasting it here.

By the way, that guy S.E. Goodman seems to have also written an article about Red China's internet infrastructure.

AndyElf ( 23331 ) writes:
Re:link ( Score: 1 )

Also this [bashedu.ru] page has interesting info. History, timeline, pics.

fm6 ( 162816 ) , Monday February 18, 2002 @11:01PM ( #3029782 ) Homepage Journal
The Old-Fashioned Way ( Score: 2 , Insightful)

Let's see, so far we've got one offtopic post, one bigoted and ignorant post from the Tom Clancy crowd, and the usual noise. I don't think you'll get much help here. Sometimes all you can find online is opinion and rumor.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the Web in general and Slashdot in particular. Both are invaluable resources for obscure little questions like the one you're asking. I know I used to write technical documentation without having the net as a reference source -- but I'm damned if I remember how.

Still, information you can get through this kind of informal research is limited in scope. There's a lot of stuff online -- but a lot more that's not. A lot of texts exist only in proprietary databases, not on the web. Not to mention the the much larger document base that simply doesn't exist in eletronic form.

You need to find a good library, probably one at a university or in a major city. They all have web sites (librarians love the web) and usually have their catalogs online. But searching a library catalog is not as simple as typing a few content words into Google. You probably need to interface with one of those old-fashioned access nodes that are only available onsite -- the ones with comprehensive heuristic and associative search features. I refer, of course, to reference librarians.

duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) writes:
Re:The Old-Fashioned Way ( Score: 3 , Insightful)

That's very politically correct of you. You show a tendency common to most PC types -- Don't let the facts get in the way of feel-good politics.

The Soviet Union didn't do very much independent computer design after the early 1960's. Various Soviet agencies and front organizations obtained IBM, Burroughs and Sperry-Univac mainframes and setup factories to manufacture spares and even a few backward-engineered copies.

The Soviet Union did not embrace information technology. It was a society that was essentially living in the 1930's. Heavy industry was the priority of the USSR, not semiconductors.

If you looked on the desks of Soviet desk jockeys in the late 80's, you'd find most offices to be non-computerized (like many western offices). The ones with computers had green screens, IBM or Apple clones. Engineers had Intergraph or Apolla stuff.

The truth isn't bigoted or ignorant.

fm6 ( 162816 ) writes:
I'm so PC! ( Score: 2 )

I love the term "Politically Correct". It allows you to dismiss any difference of opinion as a kneejerk reaction. Which is itself, of course, a kneejerk reaction.

(I once heard Night of the Living Dead condemned as "Politically Correct" because the main character was black. Too typical.)

Look, I never said the Soviets never ripped off American technology. The US leads the planet in this area. People imitate us. Well, duh. Go to the Sony web site sometime and read that company's history. Their early attempts to reverse-engineer and manufacture magnetic recording devices are quite amusing.

I'm no expert on the history of Soviet technology. But I do know enough to know that saying "They never did anything with computers except rip off American designs" is simplistic and stupid.

In point of fact, Soviet engineers in all areas were not able to imitate Western technology as much as they would have liked. There were many reasons for this, some obvious, some not. If you're really interested in the subject, go do some actual reading. In any case, spare us the Clancy cliches.

duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) writes:
Re:I'm so PC! ( Score: 2 )

The term "Politically Correct" in this context means that you are more concerned with your notion of "fairness" towards the former Soviet Union than the facts.

You have further reinforced my assessment of your original post with your reply. You suggest that i visit the Sony web site to learn about their early reverse-engineering efforts, then admit that you know virtually nothing about Soviet technology. You then assert (while posting in "Ask Slashdot") that we would all be better served by reading printed books (that Tom Clancy didn't write) on the subject rather than asking people on the web.

Maybe you should have taken a second to read my post. In that post I stated clearly that Soviets did have their own computer innovations until sometime in the 1960's. At that point it was cheaper and easier for them to appropriate and/or copy Western equipment. Technology as it applied to semiconductors just was not a priority.

Spare this forum your offtopic pseudo-intellectual rants and go away.

fm6 ( 162816 ) writes:
Grunt. Mumble. ( Score: 2 )

It's so paradoxical being PC. On the one hand, people assume you're so thoroughly brainwashed that you can't think for yourself. On the other hand, they continue to lecture you as if you were actually capable of rational thought!

Well, I can't sneer. Here I am arguing with a guy who enters the discussion with the premise that nothing I say can make sense. Pretty futile, no?

But I love the way you put "fair" in quotes. In this context "fair" simply means admitting that you don't know what you don't know. It means being skeptical about your own prejudices and assumptions.

It might help if you separate out the issue of whether the Soviet system was morally bankrupt and profoundly inefficient. Actually, that's not even an issue any more -- almost everybody agrees that it was. But it doesn't follow from this fact that Soviet technology consisted entirely of pathetic American rip offs. However screwed up the state was, it had some brilliant citizens, and only a bigot would dismiss their accomplishments out of hand.

fm6 ( 162816 ) writes:
Disagreement is not Bigotry ( Score: 2 )

You think I want the whole world to agree with me? What am I doing on Slashdot then?

It's not the opinion that makes you a bigot. Bigotry can happen to anybody, of any stripe. God knows I've caught myself in that mode often enough.

The difference between disagreement and bigotry is the same as the difference between having an honest difference of opinion and being prejudiced. If you disagree with me because you find my arguments uncompelling, then you're just someone with a different POV. That's fair enough. It's even useful -- even if neither of us can admit he's wrong, at least we can keep each other honest.

But if you start out assuming that whole groups of people are incapable of saying or doing anything worth your notice, and sneer at anybody who suggests otherwise, then you're a bigot.

Peter H.S. ( 38077 ) , Tuesday February 19, 2002 @07:57PM ( #3035283 ) Homepage
Re:The Old-Fashioned Way ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

The Soviet Union did not embrace information technology. It was a society that was essentially living in the 1930's. Heavy industry was the priority of the USSR, not semiconductors.

If you looked on the desks of Soviet desk jockeys in the late 80's, you'd find most offices to be non-computerized (like many western offices). The ones with computers had green screens, IBM or Apple clones. Engineers had Intergraph or Apolla stuff.

The USSR was indeed behind behind the west regarding advanced semiconductor technologi, but your anectdotical evidence can be misleading, since the USSR soviet economy was sharply devided into a civilian part (who got almost nothing) and a military who had first priority.
So even though the standard USSR office was pen-and-paper, the military complex would have access much more advanced technology.
IMHO, soviet military equipment since WWII to until the eighties, was often on par, if not better, than US equipment (especially missilies, tanks, infantery weapons, airplanes, though perhaps not avionics).
OTOH, civilian USSR equipment was always decades behind, what could be found in the west.

The truth isn't bigoted or ignorant.
I believe that a famous USSR newspaper was called "Pravda", meaning "The Truth" ;-).

WetCat ( 558132 ) writes:
Re:Gotta say it....... ( Score: 1 )

In 1991, I actually have been using one BESM-6 computer, which was completely original (no IBM copying at all). It was 48-bit machine. I was faster than IBM PS2 12Mhz...

andaru ( 535590 ) writes: < andaru2@onebox.com > on Monday February 18, 2002 @11:38PM ( #3029931 ) Homepage
Bug free code ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

I remember a book called Writing Bug Free Code (yes, you all scoff, but this is for real) written by a Russian computer scientist.

The basic premise was that he was using punch cards, and the actual computer on which he was compiling and testing his programs was in a relatively distant city.

He would punch up a set of cards and mail them to where the computer was, which would take a week or two. When they got around to it, they would compile his program and print out a test run using input he gave them. This would take another week. The week or two return trip made the average round trip take a month.

Now if you had to wait one month to find out that you had missed a semicolon, wouldn't you be more careful?

Usquebaugh ( 230216 ) writes:
Re:Bug free code ( Score: 2 , Funny)

Depends wether it was fixed price or time and materials :-)

boopus ( 100890 ) writes:
Re:Bug free code ( Score: 2 )

I think you've hit upon the reason many of us capitalists don't beleive in comunism...

fm6 ( 162816 ) writes:
Card Carrying Programmers ( Score: 2 )

Now if you had to wait one month to find out that you had missed a semicolon, wouldn't you be more careful?
Actually, that POV is not restricted to the former Proletarian Dictatorship. Most of my early programming was done by punching FORTRAN and PL/1 code onto punched cards. I used to stay up all night so I could submit my jobs when the turnaround was down to 15 minutes.

I had a FORTRAN textbook that said this was Very Bad, and not just because of lost sleep. It urged students to think through their code before trying it. Do hand simulation. Read it through with a friend. Later on I read books by people who insisted all software should be "provably correct."

Now I work with Delphi and Kylix, which thoroughly encourages the cut-and-try approach. Oh well.

marcus ( 1916 ) writes:
Brings back memories ( Score: 1 )

Including functional front panels, paper tape and thoughts like "Wow, that 1200bps cassette tape is fast!"

Used to do punch cards in PL/1 at school at least until I discovered the lab with vt-100s in it, and made friends with an operator who showed me how to make the machine punch the cards based on the source file that I had entered at the terminal. ;-) Hello David, are you still out there?

fm6 ( 162816 ) writes:
Re:Brings back memories ( Score: 2 )

Yeah, IBM really resisted interactive computing for a long time. Actually a good thing, since it helped give companies like DEC and DG their shot. One way to do without keypunches in IBM shops was to write a card-reader emulator!

Are we in nostalgia mode? Elsewhere on /., somebody is asking for help porting his RPG code to Linux. I seem to recall that RPG was little more than a software emulator for an IBM accounting machine, which used plugboard programming to process data on punched cards. Perhaps I misremember. Silly to invent a language for something like that!

Satai ( 111172 ) writes:
In... ( Score: 1 , Troll)

...the words of Yakkof Smirnof (or some spelling variation thereof,) in Communist Russia, Computer crash you!

Evil Attraction ( 150413 ) , Tuesday February 19, 2002 @12:57AM ( #3030274 )
Found lots of information ( Score: 3 , Informative)

I found some related (and maybe some not so related) information on this by using Google [google.com] and searching for "soviet union computers technology". Here's a handful of links for ya; "Computing in the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe" [acm.org] "Where did Soviet scientists go?" [cnn.com] "Creator of the first stored program computer in continental Europe" [icfcst.kiev.ua] Not much, but you might find more for yourself by refining your search a little.

--
Evil Attraction

Detritus ( 11846 ) , Tuesday February 19, 2002 @01:02AM ( #3030291 ) Homepage
Ukraine ( Score: 4 , Informative)

See this [icfcst.kiev.ua] for a Ukrainian perspective on Soviet computer history.

You also may want to do a google search on the comp.arch newsgroup. I think the topic has been discussed there.

The Soviets reverse engineered a number of American designs (IBM 360, PDP-11). They also did some original designs for special applications.

Some of the work was farmed out to other Warsaw Pact countries, such as the GDR.

Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) writes:
Principally Copies of Successful US Designs. ( Score: 2 , Redundant)

The PDP-11 series were extensively copied in the USSR, as were the IBM 360 mainframes [csd.uwo.ca]

fooguy ( 237418 ) , Tuesday February 19, 2002 @01:57AM ( #3030457 ) Homepage
VAX - When you Care Enough to Steal the Very Best ( Score: 5 , Funny)

This quote is from page 15 of the OpenVMS at 20 publication that Digital Published in 1997. The PDF [compaq.com] is available from Compaq.

During the cold war, VAX systems could not be sold behind the Iron Curtain. Recognizing superior technology, technical people cloned VAX systems in Russia, Hungary, and China. After learning that VAX systems were being cloned, DIGITAL had the following words etched on the CVAX chip, "VAX...when you care enough to steal the very best."

morcheeba ( 260908 ) , Tuesday February 19, 2002 @02:23PM ( #3032956 ) Journal
Re:VAX - When you Care Enough to Steal the Very Be ( Score: 4 , Informative)

Those words were in Cyrillic (of course)... see them on the chip here! [fsu.edu]

dylan_- ( 1661 ) writes:
Re:VAX - When you Care Enough to Steal the Very Be ( Score: 2 )

...and then explore the rest of this incredibly cool site.

Thanks for the link, morcheeba.

morcheeba ( 260908 ) writes:
Re:VAX - When you Care Enough to Steal the Very Be ( Score: 1 )

Oh yeah, it's a great site... maybe I should have mentioned it :) I've been lucky to work at two places with good optical equipment ... mainly for PCB inspection/rework, so not quite the magnification at that site. When I mysteriously blew up a FET in a hybrid package, I got to remove the top (a welded-on metal top; none of the dice were potted inside) and see if it was over voltage or over current that killed the part. At another facility, we an X-ray machine and a scanning electron microscope, neither of which I got to use :(

$pacemold ( 248347 ) writes:
Re:VAX - When you Care Enough to Steal the Very Be ( Score: 1 )

Those words were in Cyrillic (of course)...

...But not in Russian. At least not in understandable Russian.
ader ( 1402 ) , Tuesday February 19, 2002 @06:39AM ( #3030967 ) Homepage
Please to announce computorial system is new ( Score: 2 , Funny)

[Adopt cod Russian accent:]

Glorious new Soviet People's Dual Potato 3000! With advanced UVR (Ultra Root Vegetable(tm)) technology and many obedient clock cycles working for common good. Running Mikkelzoft Window KGB. Own the means of production and experience many kilohertz of glorious revolution in the People's progress today, comrade!

Adski_
/

NB. Before you complain, I must point out that as a Linux user myself, I am of course a fervent communist.

Jonmann ( 559611 ) writes:
Ternary computers ( Score: 2 , Funny)

I believe that the coolest invention the Russians ever made (concerning computers) was the ternary computer. More appropriately, the balanced ternary computer.
It was a bit like our binary computers, but it had real potential with the trigits having the values of up, down and neutral. The computer was called SETUN, although it was experimental and never truly realized since the 60's.
If anyone has a link concerning SETUN, I'd be interested, so far my only source has been the meager note on 'An introdunction to cryptography', Mollin.

NaturePhotog ( 317732 ) writes:
Re:Ternary computers ( Score: 3 , Interesting)

A search on Google [google.com] gives a number of interesting links, including: photo [icfcst.kiev.ua] at the European Museum on CS and Technology article [computer-museum.ru] (including bibliography) at the Virtual Computer Museum discussion of ternary computing [sigmaxi.org] at American Scientist One of those indicated it was circa 1958.

Anonymous Coward , Tuesday February 19, 2002 @07:50AM ( #3031081 )
Elbrus Supercomputers ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

There is an article [xbitlabs.com] on X-bit labs about Soviet supercomputers Elbrus-1 , Elbrus-2 and Elbrus-3 , and their successor, Elbrus-2000 :

The history of the world computer science is connected with the name of Elbrus. This company was founded in Lebedev Institute of Precision Mechanics and Computing Equipment, which team had been developing supercomputers for the Soviet Union's defense establishments for over 40 years. E2K processor embodies the developing ideas of the Russian supercomputer Elbrus-3 built in 1991. Today Elbrus-3 architecture is referred to EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing).

According to Boris A. Babaian, chief architect of Elbrus supercomputers, superscalar architecture was invented in Russia. To quote him as saying: "In 1978 we developed the world's first superscalar computer, Elbrus-1. At present all Western superscalar processors have just the same architecture. First Western superscalar processor appeared in 1992 while ours - in 1978. Moreover, our variant of superscalar is analogous to Pentium Pro introduced by Intel in 1995".

The historical priority of Elbrus is confirmed in the States as well. According to the same article in Microprocessor Report by Keith Diefendorff, the developer of Motorola 88110 - one of the first western superscalar processors: "In 1978 almost 15 years ahead of Western superscalar processors, Elbrus implemented a two-issue out-of-order processor with register renaming and speculative execution".

ameoba ( 173803 ) writes:
Maybe somebody can fill this in... ( Score: 2 )

I seem to remember that the only computer system ever built on trinary (base-3) logic was produced in the Soviet Union. The name escapes me, but I think something like that is enought to dispell the idea of them not doing any original research (good research, OTOH...).

sql*kitten ( 1359 ) writes:
Re:Maybe somebody can fill this in... ( Score: 2 )

I seem to remember that the only computer system ever built on trinary (base-3) logic was produced in the Soviet Union.

See this earlier thread [slashdot.org].

fm6 ( 162816 ) writes:
A bit on bytes ( Score: 2 )

I just noticed that kwertii lists 9-bit bytes as a "radically different concept", an example of what Soviet computer architects might have considered. Worth mentioning that the 8-bit byte was not always something you could take for granted. I can't think of any production machines, but I seem to recall that Knuth's specification of his famous MIX [dannyreviews.com] machine (an imaginary computer he invented for teaching purposes) doesn't require that bytes be implemented as 8-bit values. In fact, a programmer is not even supposed to assume that a byte is a string of bits!

Before IBM introduced the byte concept back in the 60s, all computers used "word-level" addressing. That meant that data path width and the addressable unit of data had to be the same thing. Made it hard to write portable software. By divorcing the addressing scheme from the data path width, IBM was able to design computers where differences in word size were a matter of efficiency, not compatibility.

There was nothing to force manufacturers to use 8-bit bytes. (Unless, of course, they were trying to rip off IBMs instruction set. A few did, but competing head-to-head with Big Blue that way usually didn't work out.) On the one hand, the standard data terminal of the time used a 7-bit character set. On the other hand, you can make a case for a 12-bit byte [colorado.edu]. But IBM used an 8-bit byte, and in those days, what IBM did tended to become a standard.

Knight of the Sad Co ( 22131 ) writes:
Re:A bit on bytes ( Score: 1 )

Bull-Honeywell's GCOS machines still use 9-bit bytes. C was designed to run on these machines (Kernighan's Programming in C [lysator.liu.se] begins ``C is a computer language available on the GCOS and UNIX operating systems...''). The size of various types is intentionally left flexible to allow for these machines.

A 36-bit word on a machine with limited address space allows pointers to individual bits.

Those who do not know their own history are doomed to assume that it was lived only by `backward' peoples?

fm6 ( 162816 ) writes:
Re:A bit on bytes ( Score: 2 )

And /etc/passwd still has a GECOS Field [nodevice.com]. Thanks for the example.

fm6 ( 162816 ) writes:
Re:A bit on bytes ( Score: 2 )

I don't know a lot about these boxes, but information on the web seems to indicate that "character oriented" means a very small word size. That would make sense -- the 1401 was a popular business machine with only 16K of RAM. I presume it had a correspondingly small word size -- like 8 bits?

But an 8-bit word and an 8-bit byte are not the same thing. With an 8-bit word you can easily manipulate individual characters, but your ability to do numerical work is extremely limited. If you need to do scientific computing, you have to go find a system with a bigger word size -- and lose the ability to deal with character-size data easily.

Byte architecture eliminates this problem by divorcing data path width ("word size") from addressible data unit("byte size").

zap42hod ( 303419 ) writes:
western tech. ( Score: 1 )

I've heard we used to read the architecture of western silicon chips slice by slice.
Also there were many IBM and other boxes bought in. Many of which were copied since there wasn't enough money to by them for all the needs.

zap42hod ( 303419 ) writes:
Re:western tech. ( Score: 1 )

s/\bby\b/buy/;
And of course I'm not saying we didn't do any original research. The engineers were really good, probably because eduaction had really high standards. That's changed unfortunately, at least here in Estonia with the adoption of international degrees.

o2b-rich ( 455759 ) writes:
Other former Warsaw Pact nations ( Score: 1 )

Not sure if anyone can expand on this, but I thought that Bulgaria was the east-European silicon valley? As mentioned already, the GDR also made some kit. I've read some material describing Russians buying fairly advanced homegrown systems from Bulgaria; it's no secret that they have a few virus authors there... so they certainly have some latent expertise. It's long-suspected that Russian coding techniques were superior to those in the West, motivated by the presence of less-powerful CPUs. Or was this a myth too?

spaceyhackerlady ( 462530 ) writes:
From a reliable source ( Score: 1 )

A colleague of mine is of Slovak descent, and tells me one of the wildest dodges in the Bad Old Days was CPUs with weird numbers of bits, like 28 bit words. It seems that it was illegal to export 32 bit CPUs to the Eastern Bloc. But anything smaller was OK.

In Wireless World in the late 1980s there was a very good series of articles on Eastern Bloc computing, including all the PDP-11 and S/360 clones that have been mentioned. Sorry, I don't have the exact citation. Check your library.

...laura

Webmoth ( 75878 ) writes:
How it is today ( Score: 2 )

Well, I don't know anything about the history of Russian/Soviet computing. However, I was over there last summer, and found a computer store which had state-of-the-art peripherals for sale, right alongside a bootleg copy of Windows 2000. In a bookstore, I found (and bought) a Russian translation of Olaf Kirch's Linux Network Administrator's Guide (aka, The NAG [oreilly.com]). The text was Russian but the examples were all in the default language of Linux, English.

The products in the computer store were selling for about the same as in America given the exchange rate at the time (except for the Win2K which was ~USD13). When you consider that the average Russian salary is USD2000-3000/yr, you aren't going to find many Russians online, at least not at home. Businesses seem to be fairly up-to-date as far as technology goes, aside from the mom-and-pop shops. Broadband internet access seems to be more myth than reality there.

Some of posts here said that they were a couple generations behind because they were just copying American technology. Appears they're catching up.

Animats ( 122034 ) writes:
Robotron ( Score: 2 )

Check out the Robotron [google.com] site, created in memory of the East German line of computers. Pictures, manuals, and screenshots. (A PacMan clone!) Z80 clones, 8086 clones, CP/M clones, etc.

raju1kabir ( 251972 ) writes:
Norsk Data in Latvia ( Score: 1 )

Not that helpful, but...

Just after the Baltics broke away, I was visiting the University of Latvia. I asked to see the computer facilities and was led to a room full of Norsk Data text-based terminals with cyrillic keyboards. The displays were able to show both cyrillic and roman characters. I do not, sadly, remember any specifics of the computer they were connected to other than that it had a lot of wires hanging everywhere.

d2ksla ( 89385 ) writes:
Re:Norsk Data in Latvia - 28 bit computers! ( Score: 1 )

Norsk Data ("Norwegian Computers") designed fairly advanced 32-bit systems in the middle of the 80's. I remember using them at my local university in Sweden. (Obviously the VAX 11/785 we had too was more exciting since it could run Hack under VMS Eunice).

Back then there was an export embargo on advanced computers to the Soviet union, which basically meant that 32-bit computers couldn't be sold there. So they cut off 4 bits and voila! had an exportable 28-bit computer (ND-505).

Maybe technically not a soviet machine, but still...

morn ( 136835 ) writes:
ICL ( Score: 1 )

I seem to remember hearing something about the ICL almost managing to become the computer supplier to the Soviet government, but this being blocked in the final stages by the British government. I can't find anything to support this anywhere, however - does anyone out there remember more of this than me?

Alex Belits ( 437 ) , Wednesday February 20, 2002 @06:28PM ( #3040511 ) Homepage
The lines were: ( Score: 3 , Informative)

    "BESM"/"Elbrus" line -- originally developed. "ES" Line -- clone of IBM 360 line "Elektronika"/"SM" line -- clone of PDP-11 line, often with some creative changes (high-density floppies, graphics controlers on a second PDP-11 CPU), then some VAXen "DWK"/"UKNC" line -- same as "SM", but made as a desktop. "DWK" models 3 and 4 were built as a single unit with terminal (keyboard was separate), "UKNC" was a very nice flat box with builtin keyboard and extension connectors at the top, connected to a separate monitor. "BK-0010" -- can be described as a PDP-11 squeezed into Sinclair's case, everything was in the keyboard, with TV output, tape recorder connector, and on some models a serial port. "Elektronika-85" -- Dec Pro/350 clone. Was hated just as much as its prototype. "ES-1840","Iskra-1030" lines -- IBM PC clones, usually with some changes. Appeared in early 90's and soon were replaced by conventional PC clones. "Radio-86RK","Specialist" -- hobbyist 8080-based boxes, never were mass-produced but popular among various computer enthusiasts. "Sinclair" clones

There were some others, however I have mentioned the most popular ones.

leob ( 154345 ) writes:
BESM-6 description in English ( Score: 1 )

Is at BESM-6 Nostalgia page [mailcom.com].

hummer357 ( 545850 ) writes:
the latest... ( Score: 1 )

What about this:

[Sep 21, 2019] Dr. Dobb's Journal February 1998 A Conversation with Larry Wall

Perl is unique complex non-orthogonal language and due to this it has unique level of expressiveness.
Also the complexity of Perl to a large extent reflect the complexity of Perl environment (which is Unix environment at the beginning, but now also Windows environment with its quirks)
Notable quotes:
"... On a syntactic level, in the particular case of Perl, I placed variable names in a separate namespace from reserved words. That's one of the reasons there are funny characters on the front of variable names -- dollar signs and so forth. That allowed me to add new reserved words without breaking old programs. ..."
"... A script is something that is easy to tweak, and a program is something that is locked in. There are all sorts of metaphorical tie-ins that tend to make programs static and scripts dynamic, but of course, it's a continuum. You can write Perl programs, and you can write C scripts. People do talk more about Perl programs than C scripts. Maybe that just means Perl is more versatile. ..."
"... A good language actually gives you a range, a wide dynamic range, of your level of discipline. We're starting to move in that direction with Perl. The initial Perl was lackadaisical about requiring things to be defined or declared or what have you. Perl 5 has some declarations that you can use if you want to increase your level of discipline. But it's optional. So you can say "use strict," or you can turn on warnings, or you can do various sorts of declarations. ..."
"... But Perl was an experiment in trying to come up with not a large language -- not as large as English -- but a medium-sized language, and to try to see if, by adding certain kinds of complexity from natural language, the expressiveness of the language grew faster than the pain of using it. And, by and large, I think that experiment has been successful. ..."
"... If you used the regular expression in a list context, it will pass back a list of the various subexpressions that it matched. A different computer language may add regular expressions, even have a module that's called Perl 5 regular expressions, but it won't be integrated into the language. You'll have to jump through an extra hoop, take that right angle turn, in order to say, "Okay, well here, now apply the regular expression, now let's pull the things out of the regular expression," rather than being able to use the thing in a particular context and have it do something meaningful. ..."
"... A language is not a set of syntax rules. It is not just a set of semantics. It's the entire culture surrounding the language itself. So part of the cultural context in which you analyze a language includes all the personalities and people involved -- how everybody sees the language, how they propagate the language to other people, how it gets taught, the attitudes of people who are helping each other learn the language -- all of this goes into the pot of context. ..."
"... In the beginning, I just tried to help everybody. Particularly being on USENET. You know, there are even some sneaky things in there -- like looking for people's Perl questions in many different newsgroups. For a long time, I resisted creating a newsgroup for Perl, specifically because I did not want it to be ghettoized. You know, if someone can say, "Oh, this is a discussion about Perl, take it over to the Perl newsgroup," then they shut off the discussion in the shell newsgroup. If there are only the shell newsgroups, and someone says, "Oh, by the way, in Perl, you can solve it like this," that's free advertising. So, it's fuzzy. We had proposed Perl as a newsgroup probably a year or two before we actually created it. It eventually came to the point where the time was right for it, and we did that. ..."
"... For most web applications, Perl is severely underutilized. Your typical CGI script says print, print, print, print, print, print, print. But in a sense, it's the dynamic range of Perl that allows for that. You don't have to say a whole lot to write a simple Perl script, whereas your minimal Java program is, you know, eight or ten lines long anyway. Many of the features that made it competitive in the UNIX space will make it competitive in other spaces. ..."
"... Over the years, much of the work of making Perl work for people has been in designing ways for people to come to Perl. I actually delayed the first version of Perl for a couple of months until I had a sed-to-Perl and an awk-to-Perl translator. One of the benefits of borrowing features from various other languages is that those subsets of Perl that use those features are familiar to people coming from that other culture. What would be best, in my book, is if someone had a way of saying, "Well, I've got this thing in Visual Basic. Now, can I just rewrite some of these things in Perl?" ..."
Feb 28, 1998 | www.ddj.com

... ... ...

The creator of Perl talks about language design and Perl. By Eugene Eric Kim

DDJ : Is Perl 5.005 what you envisioned Perl to be when you set out to do it?

LW: That assumes that I'm smart enough to envision something as complicated as Perl. I knew that Perl would be good at some things, and would be good at more things as time went on. So, in a sense, I'm sort of blessed with natural stupidity -- as opposed to artificial intelligence -- in the sense that I know what my intellectual limits are.

I'm not one of these people who can sit down and design an entire system from scratch and figure out how everything relates to everything else, so I knew from the start that I had to take the bear-of-very-little-brain approach, and design the thing to evolve. But that fit in with my background in linguistics, because natural languages evolve over time.

You can apply biological metaphors to languages. They move into niches, and as new needs arise, languages change over time. It's actually a practical way to design a computer language. Not all computer programs can be designed that way, but I think more can be designed that way than have been. A lot of the majestic failures that have occurred in computer science have been because people thought they could design the whole thing in advance.

DDJ : How do you design a language to evolve?

LW: There are several aspects to that, depending on whether you are talking about syntax or semantics. On a syntactic level, in the particular case of Perl, I placed variable names in a separate namespace from reserved words. That's one of the reasons there are funny characters on the front of variable names -- dollar signs and so forth. That allowed me to add new reserved words without breaking old programs.

DDJ : What is a scripting language? Does Perl fall into the category of a scripting language?

LW: Well, being a linguist, I tend to go back to the etymological meanings of "script" and "program," though, of course, that's fallacious in terms of what they mean nowadays. A script is what you hand to the actors, and a program is what you hand to the audience. Now hopefully, the program is already locked in by the time you hand that out, whereas the script is something you can tinker with. I think of phrases like "following the script," or "breaking from the script." The notion that you can evolve your script ties into the notion of rapid prototyping.

A script is something that is easy to tweak, and a program is something that is locked in. There are all sorts of metaphorical tie-ins that tend to make programs static and scripts dynamic, but of course, it's a continuum. You can write Perl programs, and you can write C scripts. People do talk more about Perl programs than C scripts. Maybe that just means Perl is more versatile.

... ... ...

DDJ : Would that be a better distinction than interpreted versus compiled -- run-time versus compile-time binding?

LW: It's a more useful distinction in many ways because, with late-binding languages like Perl or Java, you cannot make up your mind about what the real meaning of it is until the last moment. But there are different definitions of what the last moment is. Computer scientists would say there are really different "latenesses" of binding.

A good language actually gives you a range, a wide dynamic range, of your level of discipline. We're starting to move in that direction with Perl. The initial Perl was lackadaisical about requiring things to be defined or declared or what have you. Perl 5 has some declarations that you can use if you want to increase your level of discipline. But it's optional. So you can say "use strict," or you can turn on warnings, or you can do various sorts of declarations.

DDJ : Would it be accurate to say that Perl doesn't enforce good design?

LW: No, it does not. It tries to give you some tools to help if you want to do that, but I'm a firm believer that a language -- whether it's a natural language or a computer language -- ought to be an amoral artistic medium.

You can write pretty poems or you can write ugly poems, but that doesn't say whether English is pretty or ugly. So, while I kind of like to see beautiful computer programs, I don't think the chief virtue of a language is beauty. That's like asking an artist whether they use beautiful paints and a beautiful canvas and a beautiful palette. A language should be a medium of expression, which does not restrict your feeling unless you ask it to.

DDJ : Where does the beauty of a program lie? In the underlying algorithms, in the syntax of the description?

LW: Well, there are many different definitions of artistic beauty. It can be argued that it's symmetry, which in a computer language might be considered orthogonality. It's also been argued that broken symmetry is what is considered most beautiful and most artistic and diverse. Symmetry breaking is the root of our whole universe according to physicists, so if God is an artist, then maybe that's his definition of what beauty is.

This actually ties back in with the built-to-evolve concept on the semantic level. A lot of computer languages were defined to be naturally orthogonal, or at least the computer scientists who designed them were giving lip service to orthogonality. And that's all very well if you're trying to define a position in a space. But that's not how people think. It's not how natural languages work. Natural languages are not orthogonal, they're diagonal. They give you hypotenuses.

Suppose you're flying from California to Quebec. You don't fly due east, and take a left turn over Nashville, and then go due north. You fly straight, more or less, from here to there. And it's a network. And it's actually sort of a fractal network, where your big link is straight, and you have little "fractally" things at the end for your taxi and bicycle and whatever the mode of transport you use. Languages work the same way. And they're designed to get you most of the way here, and then have ways of refining the additional shades of meaning.

When they first built the University of California at Irvine campus, they just put the buildings in. They did not put any sidewalks, they just planted grass. The next year, they came back and built the sidewalks where the trails were in the grass. Perl is that kind of a language. It is not designed from first principles. Perl is those sidewalks in the grass. Those trails that were there before were the previous computer languages that Perl has borrowed ideas from. And Perl has unashamedly borrowed ideas from many, many different languages. Those paths can go diagonally. We want shortcuts. Sometimes we want to be able to do the orthogonal thing, so Perl generally allows the orthogonal approach also. But it also allows a certain number of shortcuts, and being able to insert those shortcuts is part of that evolutionary thing.

I don't want to claim that this is the only way to design a computer language, or that everyone is going to actually enjoy a computer language that is designed in this way. Obviously, some people speak other languages. But Perl was an experiment in trying to come up with not a large language -- not as large as English -- but a medium-sized language, and to try to see if, by adding certain kinds of complexity from natural language, the expressiveness of the language grew faster than the pain of using it. And, by and large, I think that experiment has been successful.

DDJ : Give an example of one of the things you think is expressive about Perl that you wouldn't find in other languages.

LW: The fact that regular-expression parsing and the use of regular expressions is built right into the language. If you used the regular expression in a list context, it will pass back a list of the various subexpressions that it matched. A different computer language may add regular expressions, even have a module that's called Perl 5 regular expressions, but it won't be integrated into the language. You'll have to jump through an extra hoop, take that right angle turn, in order to say, "Okay, well here, now apply the regular expression, now let's pull the things out of the regular expression," rather than being able to use the thing in a particular context and have it do something meaningful.

The school of linguistics I happened to come up through is called tagmemics, and it makes a big deal about context. In a real language -- this is a tagmemic idea -- you can distinguish between what the conventional meaning of the "thing" is and how it's being used. You think of "dog" primarily as a noun, but you can use it as a verb. That's the prototypical example, but the "thing" applies at many different levels. You think of a sentence as a sentence. Transformational grammar was built on the notion of analyzing a sentence. And they had all their cute rules, and they eventually ended up throwing most of them back out again.

But in the tagmemic view, you can take a sentence as a unit and use it differently. You can say a sentence like, "I don't like your I-can-use-anything-like-a-sentence attitude." There, I've used the sentence as an adjective. The sentence isn't an adjective if you analyze it, any way you want to analyze it. But this is the way people think. If there's a way to make sense of something in a particular context, they'll do so. And Perl is just trying to make those things make sense. There's the basic distinction in Perl between singular and plural context -- call it list context and scalar context, if you will. But you can use a particular construct in a singular context that has one meaning that sort of makes sense using the list context, and it may have a different meaning that makes sense in the plural context.

That is where the expressiveness comes from. In English, you read essays by people who say, "Well, how does this metaphor thing work?" Owen Barfield talks about this. You say one thing and mean another. That's how metaphors arise. Or you take two things and jam them together. I think it was Owen Barfield, or maybe it was C.S. Lewis, who talked about "a piercing sweetness." And we know what "piercing" is, and we know what "sweetness" is, but you put those two together, and you've created a new meaning. And that's how languages ought to work.

DDJ : Is a more expressive language more difficult to learn?

LW: Yes. It was a conscious tradeoff at the beginning of Perl that it would be more difficult to master the whole language. However, taking another clue from a natural language, we do not require 5-year olds to speak with the same diction as 50-year olds. It is okay for you to use the subset of a language that you are comfortable with, and to learn as you go. This is not true of so many computer-science languages. If you program C++ in a subset that corresponds to C, you get laughed out of the office.

There's a whole subject that we haven't touched here. A language is not a set of syntax rules. It is not just a set of semantics. It's the entire culture surrounding the language itself. So part of the cultural context in which you analyze a language includes all the personalities and people involved -- how everybody sees the language, how they propagate the language to other people, how it gets taught, the attitudes of people who are helping each other learn the language -- all of this goes into the pot of context.

Because I had already put out other freeware projects (rn and patch), I realized before I ever wrote Perl that a great deal of the value of those things was from collaboration. Many of the really good ideas in rn and Perl came from other people.

I think that Perl is in its adolescence right now. There are places where it is grown up, and places where it's still throwing tantrums. I have a couple of teenagers, and the thing you notice about teenagers is that they're always plus or minus ten years from their real age. So if you've got a 15-year old, they're either acting 25 or they're acting 5. Sometimes simultaneously! And Perl is a little that way, but that's okay.

DDJ : What part of Perl isn't quite grown up?

LW: Well, I think that the part of Perl, which has not been realistic up until now has been on the order of how you enable people in certain business situations to actually use it properly. There are a lot of people who cannot use freeware because it is, you know, schlocky. Their bosses won't let them, their government won't let them, or they think their government won't let them. There are a lot of people who, unknown to their bosses or their government, are using Perl.

DDJ : So these aren't technical issues.

LW: I suppose it depends on how you define technology. Some of it is perceptions, some of it is business models, and things like that. I'm trying to generate a new symbiosis between the commercial and the freeware interests. I think there's an artificial dividing line between those groups and that they could be more collaborative.

As a linguist, the generation of a linguistic culture is a technical issue. So, these adjustments we might make in people's attitudes toward commercial operations or in how Perl is being supported, distributed, advertised, and marketed -- not in terms of trying to make bucks, but just how we propagate the culture -- these are technical ideas in the psychological and the linguistic sense. They are, of course, not technical in the computer-science sense. But I think that's where Perl has really excelled -- its growth has not been driven solely by technical merits.

DDJ : What are the things that you do when you set out to create a culture around the software that you write?

LW: In the beginning, I just tried to help everybody. Particularly being on USENET. You know, there are even some sneaky things in there -- like looking for people's Perl questions in many different newsgroups. For a long time, I resisted creating a newsgroup for Perl, specifically because I did not want it to be ghettoized. You know, if someone can say, "Oh, this is a discussion about Perl, take it over to the Perl newsgroup," then they shut off the discussion in the shell newsgroup. If there are only the shell newsgroups, and someone says, "Oh, by the way, in Perl, you can solve it like this," that's free advertising. So, it's fuzzy. We had proposed Perl as a newsgroup probably a year or two before we actually created it. It eventually came to the point where the time was right for it, and we did that.

DDJ : Perl has really been pigeonholed as a language of the Web. One result is that people mistakenly try to compare Perl to Java. Why do you think people make the comparison in the first place? Is there anything to compare?

LW: Well, people always compare everything.

DDJ : Do you agree that Perl has been pigeonholed?

LW: Yes, but I'm not sure that it bothers me. Before it was pigeonholed as a web language, it was pigeonholed as a system-administration language, and I think that -- this goes counter to what I was saying earlier about marketing Perl -- if the abilities are there to do a particular job, there will be somebody there to apply it, generally speaking. So I'm not too worried about Perl moving into new ecological niches, as long as it has the capability of surviving in there.

Perl is actually a scrappy language for surviving in a particular ecological niche. (Can you tell I like biological metaphors?) You've got to understand that it first went up against C and against shell, both of which were much loved in the UNIX community, and it succeeded against them. So that early competition actually makes it quite a fit competitor in many other realms, too.

For most web applications, Perl is severely underutilized. Your typical CGI script says print, print, print, print, print, print, print. But in a sense, it's the dynamic range of Perl that allows for that. You don't have to say a whole lot to write a simple Perl script, whereas your minimal Java program is, you know, eight or ten lines long anyway. Many of the features that made it competitive in the UNIX space will make it competitive in other spaces.

Now, there are things that Perl can't do. One of the things that you can't do with Perl right now is compile it down to Java bytecode. And if that, in the long run, becomes a large ecological niche (and this is not yet a sure thing), then that is a capability I want to be certain that Perl has.

DDJ : There's been a movement to merge the two development paths between the ActiveWare Perl for Windows and the main distribution of Perl. You were talking about ecological niches earlier, and how Perl started off as a text-processing language. The scripting languages that are dominant on the Microsoft platforms -- like VB -- tend to be more visual than textual. Given Perl's UNIX origins -- awk, sed, and C, for that matter -- do you think that Perl, as it currently stands, has the tools to fit into a Windows niche?

LW: Yes and no. It depends on your problem domain and who's trying to solve the problem. There are problems that only need a textual solution or don't need a visual solution. Automation things of certain sorts don't need to interact with the desktop, so for those sorts of things -- and for the programmers who aren't really all that interested in visual programming -- it's already good for that. And people are already using it for that. Certainly, there is a group of people who would be enabled to use Perl if it had more of a visual interface, and one of the things we're talking about doing for the O'Reilly NT Perl Resource Kit is some sort of a visual interface.

A lot of what Windows is designed to do is to get mere mortals from 0 to 60, and there are some people who want to get from 60 to 100. We are not really interested in being in Microsoft's crosshairs. We're not actually interested in competing head-to-head with Visual Basic, and to the extent that we do compete with them, it's going to be kind of subtle. There has to be some way to get people from the slow lane to the fast lane. It's one thing to give them a way to get from 60 to 100, but if they have to spin out to get from the slow lane to the fast lane, then that's not going to work either.

Over the years, much of the work of making Perl work for people has been in designing ways for people to come to Perl. I actually delayed the first version of Perl for a couple of months until I had a sed-to-Perl and an awk-to-Perl translator. One of the benefits of borrowing features from various other languages is that those subsets of Perl that use those features are familiar to people coming from that other culture. What would be best, in my book, is if someone had a way of saying, "Well, I've got this thing in Visual Basic. Now, can I just rewrite some of these things in Perl?"

We're already doing this with Java. On our UNIX Perl Resource Kit, I've got a hybrid language called "jpl" -- that's partly a pun on my old alma mater, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and partly for Java, Perl...Lingo, there we go! That's good. "Java Perl Lingo." You've heard it first here! jpl lets you take a Java program and magically turn one of the methods into a chunk of Perl right there inline. It turns Perl code into a native method, and automates the linkage so that when you pull in the Java code, it also pulls in the Perl code, and the interpreter, and everything else. It's actually calling out from Java's Virtual Machine into Perl's virtual machine. And we can call in the other direction, too. You can embed Java in Perl, except that there's a bug in JDK having to do with threads that prevents us from doing any I/O. But that's Java's problem.

It's a way of letting somebody evolve from a purely Java solution into, at least partly, a Perl solution. It's important not only to make Perl evolve, but to make it so that people can evolve their own programs. It's how I program, and I think a lot of people program that way. Most of us are too stupid to know what we want at the beginning.

DDJ : Is there hope down the line to present Perl to a standardization body?

LW: Well, I have said in jest that people will be free to standardize Perl when I'm dead. There may come a time when that is the right thing to do, but it doesn't seem appropriate yet.

DDJ : When would that time be?

LW: Oh, maybe when the federal government declares that we can't export Perl unless it's standardized or something.

DDJ : Only when you're forced to, basically.

LW: Yeah. To me, once things get to a standards body, it's not very interesting anymore. The most efficient form of government is a benevolent dictatorship. I remember walking into some BOF that USENIX held six or seven years ago, and John Quarterman was running it, and he saw me sneak in, sit in the back corner, and he said, "Oh, here comes Larry Wall! He's a standards committee all of his own!"

A great deal of the success of Perl so far has been based on some of my own idiosyncrasies. And I recognize that they are idiosyncrasies, and I try to let people argue me out of them whenever appropriate. But there are still ways of looking at things that I seem to do differently than anybody else. It may well be that perl5-porters will one day degenerate into a standards committee. So far, I have not abused my authority to the point that people have written me off, and so I am still allowed to exercise a certain amount of absolute power over the Perl core.

I just think headless standards committees tend to reduce everything to mush. There is a conservatism that committees have that individuals don't, and there are times when you want to have that conservatism and times you don't. I try to exercise my authority where we don't want that conservatism. And I try not to exercise it at other times.

DDJ : How did you get involved in computer science? You're a linguist by background?

LW: Because I talk to computer scientists more than I talk to linguists, I wear the linguistics mantle more than I wear the computer-science mantle, but they actually came along in parallel, and I'm probably a 50/50 hybrid. You know, basically, I'm no good at either linguistics or computer science.

DDJ : So you took computer-science courses in college?

LW: In college, yeah. In college, I had various majors, but what I eventually graduated in -- I'm one of those people that packed four years into eight -- what I eventually graduated in was a self-constructed major, and it was Natural and Artificial Languages, which seems positively prescient considering where I ended up.

DDJ : When did you join O'Reilly as a salaried employee? And how did that come about?

LW: A year-and-a-half ago. It was partly because my previous job was kind of winding down.

DDJ : What was your previous job?

LW: I was working for Seagate Software. They were shutting down that branch of operations there. So, I was just starting to look around a little bit, and Tim noticed me looking around and said, "Well, you know, I've wanted to hire you for a long time," so we talked. And Gina Blaber (O'Reilly's software director) and I met. So, they more or less offered to pay me to mess around with Perl.

So it's sort of my dream job. I get to work from home, and if I feel like taking a nap in the afternoon, I can take a nap in the afternoon and work all night.

DDJ : Do you have any final comments, or tips for aspiring programmers? Or aspiring Perl programmers?

LW: Assume that your first idea is wrong, and try to think through the various options. I think that the biggest mistake people make is latching onto the first idea that comes to them and trying to do that. It really comes to a thing that my folks taught me about money. Don't buy something unless you've wanted it three times. Similarly, don't throw in a feature when you first think of it. Think if there's a way to generalize it, think if it should be generalized. Sometimes you can generalize things too much. I think like the things in Scheme were generalized too much. There is a level of abstraction beyond which people don't want to go. Take a good look at what you want to do, and try to come up with the long-term lazy way, not the short-term lazy way.

[Sep 21, 2019] The list of programming languages by dates

Sep 21, 2019 | www.scriptol.com

1948

1949 1951 1952 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1962 1963 1964

[Sep 11, 2019] Chile, September 11, 1973 The Horrors of 'the First 9-11' Are Routinely Overlooked

Sep 11, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Chile, September 11, 1973: The Horrors of 'the First 9/11' Are Routinely Overlooked Each September large memorials are held for the 9/11 attacks on the US. Yet few recall the far more destructive 9/11 that occurred 28 years before. By Shane Quinn Global Research, September 11, 2019 The Duran and Global Research 8 September 2017 Region: Latin America & Caribbean , USA Theme: History , Media Disinformation , US NATO War Agenda

This article was originally published in September 2017.

On September 11, 1973, Salvador Allende 's democratic government in Chile was ousted by United States-backed forces in one of the Cold War's defining moments. Allende himself was killed during the coup while his presidential palace, La Moneda, was extensively bombed. Many thousands of Chileans were either murdered, "disappeared", imprisoned, and coerced to emigrate or enter exile. Allende's widow and family were forced to go into hiding in Mexico for many years.

In replacing Allende the Americans installed General Augusto Pinochet , one of the most notorious of the post-Second World War dictators. During the next 17 years of Pinochet's dictatorship around 40,000 Chileans were tortured – often under the most sadistic fashion and overseen by doctors in the Josef Mengele style (the Nazi doctor at Auschwitz). The doctors would ensure the victims would remain alive for as long as possible, administer medication to resuscitate them, so the torture could then recommence.

A Chilean who suffered such treatment in these chambers, but survived and later became an international lawyer, was asked where these doctors are today? He replied , "they're practicing in Santiago". There have been a number of Mengele-style doctors not only walking free in Chile, but resuming employment unhindered.

There have been no calls from the United States or Israel to bring these Nazi-style physicians to justice. Indeed, the Pinochet regime was already protecting Nazi war criminals such as SS Colonel Walter Rauff , creator of the gas chambers, and Mengele himself.

As the US's population is approximately 18 times bigger than Chile's, with an infinitely bigger landmass, the Chilean 9/11 was felt on a far greater scale. Indeed, it was also more destructive. In the US's 9/11, the White House was not bombed, the President ( George W. Bush ) was not killed, its people were not imprisoned and tortured en masse after the initial crimes were committed, a brutal dictator and his death squads were not imposed.

Before the Chilean coup in 1973, the country had been a lively, vibrant place where people were welcoming and cheerful. The Pinochet years afflicted upon the population persistent feelings of terror and suspicion.

A few days after the coup was implemented National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger described the situation in Chile as,

Forty Years Since the Chilean Coup of September 11, 1973

"Nothing of very great consequence".

U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger with Pinochet in 1976 (Source: Wikimedia Commons )

Except to the people of Chile that is. Following Allende's election three years before, Kissinger told CIA director Richard Helms over the phone,

"We will not let Chile go down the drain", to which Helms responded, "I am with you".

Kissinger, a future Nobel Peace Prize winner, had been implicated in other war crimes such as an open call for genocide in Cambodia in 1969, "Anything that flies on everything that moves".

Disturbed by Allende's election victory in early September 1970, US President Richard Nixon ordered the CIA to, "prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him". Allende was not due to take office until two months later. The US State Department suggested to, "let Allende come in and see what we can work out", – the words "work out" denoting a sinister undertone judging by the record books.

However, President Nixon rejected the State Department's proposal, protesting the possibility of,

"Like another Castro? Like in Czechoslovakia? The same people said the same thing. Don't let them do that".

President Nixon expressed caution saying that,

"We don't want a big story leaking out that we are trying to overthrow the government", before warning Kissinger "to be sure the paper record doesn't look bad".

Kissinger forwarded to Secretary of State William Rogers that,

"The President's view is to do the maximum possible to prevent an Allende takeover".

The aim of the Nixon administration in attempting to overthrow Allende's incoming government was to destroy independent nationalism, or what was called a "virus" that might "infect" others – the domino effect. After all Henry Stimson , the US Secretary of War during World War II, described Latin America as "our little region over here which has never bothered anybody".

Chile obviously came under the auspices of "our little region", despite the fact its capital Santiago is over 8,000 km from Washington. The rights of nations to manage their own affairs is an unacceptable prospect to US planners. We see examples of this to the present day.

In the meantime, "the maximum possible to prevent an Allende takeover" failed as the former physician successfully assumed office in November 1970. The CIA had been sent to work in building support for Allende's rival, former President Jorge Alessandri , but to no avail. Instead the CIA exerted covert pressure, including paying millions of dollars to opposition groups to speed up Allende's ousting.

The four-week tour of Chile by Cuban leader Fidel Castro in late 1971 further alarmed policymakers in the US. Allende himself had visited Cuba about a decade before, and had been impressed by the progress made by Castro's revolution, before again visiting the island nation in 1972.

Image result for allende castro

Fidel Castro with Salvador Allende (Source: teleSUR / Twitter )

By the following year Allende was ousted and killed, with crucial CIA input, as Pinochet went about privatising the Chilean economy to suit American corporate requirements. The "Chicago boys", neoliberal Chilean economists trained at University of Chicago, were welcomed into the government – and were supported by the IMF and the World Bank.

The Chicago boys' policies had a disastrous effect on the population as unemployment more than doubled between 1974 and 1975, to over 18%. By 1983 unemployment further rocketed to 34.6%, far worse than the Great Depression in the US.

The population revolted at various stages but this is where Pinochet's brutal methods of repression came in useful, and was no doubt welcomed by the US government, IMF, and so on. Furthermore, Pinochet was a major drug trafficker who sold cocaine to the US and Europe in the 1980s, amassing a personal fortune in the process, along with his cronies. Pinochet, who also had links to Colombian drug dealers, said

"Not a leaf moves in Chile if I don't move it – let that be clear".

Meanwhile, the population continued to slide into poverty and desolation.

*

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Shane Quinn obtained an honors journalism degree. He is interested in writing primarily on foreign affairs, having been inspired by authors like Noam Chomsky. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

The original source of this article is The Duran and Global Research Copyright © Shane Quinn , The Duran and Global Research , 2019

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[Sep 11, 2019] Chile, September 11, 1973 The Inauguration of Neoliberalism, Shock Treatment and the Instruments of Economic Repression

Notable quotes:
"... In the wake of the military coup and following the engineered hike in food prices, I estimated that approximately 85% of the Chilean population did not meet minimum calorie and protein requirements as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). ..."
"... In October 1973, the "official" food price index had increased by 82.3 percent (in relation to September), according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, which had been taken over by the Junta. ..."
"... Food prices had increased by 211.1 percent in October and November 1973 in relation to September, according to my estimates of 31 food categories. (The official November figures pointed to an increase of 88.6 percent in relation to September). And thereafter, it was on the basis of these official (fake) statistics that the movement in real purchasing power was estimated and official wage adjustments were implemented. ..."
"... I left Chile for Peru in December 1973. The report was released as a working paper (200 copies) by the Catholic University a few days before my departure. In Peru, where I joined the Economics Department of the Catholic University of Peru, I was able to write up a more detailed study of the Junta's neoliberal reforms and their ideological underpinnings. This study was published in 1974-75 in English and Spanish. ..."
Sep 11, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Chile, September 11, 1973: The Inauguration of Neoliberalism, "Shock Treatment" and the Instruments of Economic Repression: The Junta's Deadly "Economic Medicine" Salvador Allende was assassinated on the orders of Henry Kissinger By Prof Michel Chossudovsky Global Research, September 11, 2019 Region: Latin America & Caribbean , USA Theme: Global Economy , History , Poverty & Social Inequality

"Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny.

Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail.

Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society.

Long live Chile!

Long live the people! Long live the workers!"

President Salvador Allende's farewell speech, 11 September 1973.

"It's hard to find someone with the fighting spirit, courage and the story of Allende. He was a man who actually had the branded name in history: democratically the left came to power, and by bombs he was removed from government." Senador Pedro Simon

Chile: "Shock Treatment" and the Mechanisms of Economic Repression

Immediately following Allende's election in September 1970 and prior to his inauguration in November 1970:

"Kissinger initiated discussion on the telephone with CIA director Richard Helm's about a preemptive coup in Chile. "We will not let Chile go down the drain," Kissinger declared. "I am with you," Helms responded. Their conversation took place three days before President Nixon, in a 15-minute meeting that included Kissinger, ordered the CIA to "make the economy scream," and named Kissinger as the supervisor of the covert efforts to keep Allende from being inaugurated. ( National Security Archive )

The CIA was the lead organization behind the imposition of a neoliberal economic agenda in Chile. In August 1972, a year prior to the coup, the CIA funded a 300-page economic blueprint to be implemented in the wake of the overthrow of the Allende government.

The ultimate objective of the September 11, 1973 military coup in Chile was the imposition of the neoliberal agenda (aka deadly "economic medicine") leading to the impoverishment of an entire nation.

Wall Street was behind the coup, working hand in glove with the CIA, the US State Department and Chile's economic elites. Henry Kissinger was the Go-Between.

After Allende's election in November Wall Street's major commercial banks (including Chase Manhattan, Chemical, First National City, Manufacturers Hanover, and Morgan Guaranty), cancelled credits to Chile. In turn, in 1972, Kennecott Corporation "tied up Chilean copper exports with lawsuits in France, Sweden, Italy, and Germany". (See John M. Swomley, Jr. "The Political Power of Multinational Corporations," Christian Century, 91 (25 September 1974), p. 881.

"Regime change" was enforced through a covert CIA military intelligence operation, which laid the groundwork for the military takeover, the assassination of president Allende as well as the macro-economic reforms to be adopted in the wake of the military coup.

At the time of the September 11, 1973 military coup, I was Visiting Professor of Economics at the Catholic University of Chile. In the hours following the bombing of the Presidential Palace of La Moneda, the new military rulers imposed a 72-hour curfew.

Salvador Allende in the defense of the Palacio de la Moneda, September 11, 1973 (left)

When the university reopened several days later, I started patching together the history of the coup from written notes. I had lived through the September 11, 1973 coup as well as the failed June 29th coup. Several of my students at the Universidad Catolica had been arrested by the military Junta.

Chicago Economics, Chilean Style

Sweeping macro-economic reforms (including privatization, price liberalization and the freeze of wages) were implemented in early October 1973.

Barely a few weeks after the military takeover, the military Junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet ordered a hike in the price of bread from 11 to 40 escudos, a hefty overnight increase of 264%. This "economic shock treatment" had been designed by a group of economists called the "Chicago Boys," many of whom were my colleagues at the Institute of Economics of the Catholic University.

These deadly macro-economic reforms were largely dictated by Wall Street in liaison with the CIA, with "Chicago Economics" providing an ideological "free market" paradigm and justification. Professors Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger of Chicago University were by no means the driving force behind these reforms.

While food prices had skyrocketed, wages had been frozen to ensure "economic stability and stave off inflationary pressures." From one day to the next, an entire country had been precipitated into abysmal poverty; in less than a year the price of bread in Chile increased thirty-six fold (3700%). Eighty-five percent of the Chilean population had been driven below the poverty line.

In November 1973, following the dramatic hikes in the price of food, I drafted in Spanish an initial "technical" assessment of the Junta's deadly macro-economic reforms.

Together with a medical doctor, colleague and lifelong friend who was teaching at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Chile, I estimated the impacts of the economic reforms on the levels of undernourishment, which had resulted from the collapse of the standard of living.

In the wake of the military coup and following the engineered hike in food prices, I estimated that approximately 85% of the Chilean population did not meet minimum calorie and protein requirements as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

In October 1973, the "official" food price index had increased by 82.3 percent (in relation to September), according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, which had been taken over by the Junta.

The INE figures on the price of food commodities, however, had been falsified. In November, I proceeded to collect and tabulate the actual rate of increase in food prices from directly observed prices in the Santiago Metropolitan area. I discovered a substantial discrepancy in relation to the official statistics.

Food prices had increased by 211.1 percent in October and November 1973 in relation to September, according to my estimates of 31 food categories. (The official November figures pointed to an increase of 88.6 percent in relation to September). And thereafter, it was on the basis of these official (fake) statistics that the movement in real purchasing power was estimated and official wage adjustments were implemented.

Fearing censorship by the Junta led by General Augusto Pinochet, I limited my analysis to the collapse of living standards in the wake of the Junta's reforms, resulting from the price hikes of food and fuel, focussing on statistical estimates, without making any kind of political analysis.

The Economics Institute of the Catholic University was initially reluctant to publish the report. They sent it to the Military Junta prior to its release.

The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author. Therefore, they are of the author's responsibility and do not compromise the Institute of Economics

(This was first time that the Institute chose to publish a disclaimer)

I left Chile for Peru in December 1973. The report was released as a working paper (200 copies) by the Catholic University a few days before my departure. In Peru, where I joined the Economics Department of the Catholic University of Peru, I was able to write up a more detailed study of the Junta's neoliberal reforms and their ideological underpinnings. This study was published in 1974-75 in English and Spanish.

Economic Repression

By March 1974, food prices in Chile (according to my estimates) had increased by 505.5 percent (since September 1973). Real wages had collapsed.

Chile: The movement of real wages (1970-77) based on official statistics

Source: Rudiger Dornbusch, Sebastian Edwards. Macroeconomic Populism in Latin America http://www.nber.org/papers/w2986 (p20)

The above graph (based on official statistics) shows that real wages collapsed by close to 70 percent in relation to the base period (1970), which also corresponds to the beginning of the Unidad Popular (UP) government of Salvador Allende. The collapse in real wages was greater than that indicated by the official statistics.

It is worth noting that in 1971, the Allende government increased real wages by 20%. The collapse from its 1971 level to early 1974 was of the order of 75% based on official statistics of the cost of living. A wage increase was implemented by the Junta in early March of 1974 (see graph above).

The Destruction of Economic Life

The events of September 11 1973 marked me profoundly in my work as an economist. Through the tampering of prices, wages and interest rates, people's lives had been destroyed; an entire national economy had been destabilized. Macro-economic reform was neither "neutral" –as claimed by the academic mainstream– nor separate from the broader process of social and political transformation.

I also started to understand the role of military-intelligence operations in support of what is usually described as a process of "economic restructuring". In my earlier writings on the Chilean military Junta, I looked upon so-called "free market" reforms as well-organized instruments of "economic repression."

Macro-Economics and Geopolitics are intertwined. The economic dimensions of US led wars must be understood. The destruction of economic life in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya constitutes a crime against humanity, i.e. an "Economic Genocide" which consists in destabilizing and deliberately sabotaging a national economy.

While the contemporary mechanisms of intervention ("color revolutions", "war on terrorism", economic destabilization, sanctions, etc) are different to those of the 1970s, the ultimate objective is the derogation of national sovereignty and the imposition of neoliberalism:

I recall that in the months leading up to the September 1973 coup in Chile, the distribution of basic consumer goods and food had been deliberately disrupted through market manipulation. No bread, no milk, no sugar were available at government regulated prices. Chile's escudo was worthless. The black market prevailed.

A similar situation is now unfolding in Venezuela where the national currency has collapsed. Black market prices for food and essential commodities have spiralled. Reminiscent of Chile in 1973, foreign exchange (Forex) market manipulation in Venezuela coupled with sabotage triggers food shortages, poverty and political instability. Concurrent with the engineered collapse of the Bolivar, real purchasing power has plummeted. (see below)

Source: Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2016

Michel Chossudovsky, September 17, 2016 Forty Years Since the Chilean Coup of September 11, 1973

sources:

Michel Chossudovsky, La medicion del ingreso minimo de subsistencia y la politica de ingresos para 1974 , Documentos de Trabajo no. 18, Noviembre de 1973.

Michel Chossudovsky, The Neo-liberal Model and the Mechanisms of Economic Repression, The Chilean Case, Research Paper No. 7411, Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, 1974, published in Co-Existence, Vol 12, 1975

Michel Chossudovsky, Hacia el nuevo modelo economico chileno : inflación y redistribución del ingreso, El trimestre económico . Mexico, Vol. 42. 1975, 2, p. 311-347.

* * *

The videos below describe the preparation of the September 11, 1973 military coup and its aftermath.

Video: CIA, Chile and Allende

https://www.youtube.com/embed/8R7MNnoYktM Chile: The First Start. The Inauguration of Neoliberalism

https://www.youtube.com/embed/dRRUpO5kPhw?feature=oembed

The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Prof Michel Chossudovsky , Global Research, 2019

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[Sep 07, 2019] Knuth: Early on in the TeX project I also had to do programming of a completely different type on Zilog CPU which was at the heart of lazer printer that I used

Sep 07, 2019 | archive.computerhistory.org

Knuth: Yeah. That's absolutely true. I've got to get another thought out of my mind though. That is, early on in the TeX project I also had to do programming of a completely different type. I told you last week that this was my first real exercise in structured programming, which was one of Dijkstra's huge... That's one of the few breakthroughs in the history of computer science, in a way. He was actually responsible for maybe two of the ten that I know.

So I'm doing structured programming as I'm writing TeX. I'm trying to do it right, the way I should've been writing programs in the 60s. Then I also got this typesetting machine, which had, inside of it, a tiny 8080 chip or something. I'm not sure exactly. It was a Zilog, or some very early Intel chip. Way before the 386s. A little computer with 8-bit registers and a small number of things it could do. I had to write my own assembly language for this, because the existing software for writing programs for this little micro thing were so bad. I had to write actually thousands of lines of code for this, in order to control the typesetting. Inside the machine I had to control a stepper motor, and I had to accelerate it.

Every so often I had to give another [command] saying, "Okay, now take a step," and then continue downloading a font from the mainframe.

I had six levels of interrupts in this program. I remember talking to you at this time, saying, "Ed, I'm programming in assembly language for an 8-bit computer," and you said "Yeah, you've been doing the same thing and it's fun again."

You know, you'll remember. We'll undoubtedly talk more about that when I have my turn interviewing you in a week or so. This is another aspect of programming: that you also feel that you're in control and that there's not a black box separating you. It's not only the power, but it's the knowledge of what's going on; that nobody's hiding something. It's also this aspect of jumping levels of abstraction. In my opinion, the thing that computer scientists are best at is seeing things at many levels of detail: high level, intermediate levels, and lowest levels. I know if I'm adding 1 to a certain number, that this is getting me towards some big goal at the top. People enjoy most the things that they're good at. Here's a case where if you're working on a machine that has only this 8-bit capability, but in order to do this you have to go through levels, of not only that machine, but also to the next level up of the assembler, and then you have a simulator in which you can help debug your programs, and you have higher level languages that go through, and then you have the typesetting at the top. There are these six or seven levels all present at the same time. A computer scientist is in heaven in a situation like this.

Feigenbaum: Don, to get back, I want to ask you about that as part of the next question. You went back into programming in a really serious way. It took you, as I said before, ten years, not one year, and you didn't quit. As soon as you mastered one part of it, you went into Metafont, which is another big deal. To what extent were you doing that because you needed to, what I might call expose yourself to, or upgrade your skills in, the art that had emerged over the decade-and-a-half since you had done RUNCIBLE? And to what extent did you do it just because you were driven to be a programmer? You loved programming.

Knuth: Yeah. I think your hypothesis is good. It didn't occur to me at the time that I just had to program in order to be a happy man. Certainly I didn't find my other roles distasteful, except for fundraising. I enjoyed every aspect of being a professor except dealing with proposals, which I did my share of, but that was a necessary evil sort of in my own thinking, I guess. But the fact that now I'm still compelled to I wake up in the morning with an idea, and it makes my day to think of adding a couple of lines to my program. Gives me a real high. It must be the way poets feel, or musicians and so on, and other people, painters, whatever. Programming does that for me. It's certainly true. But the fact that I had to put so much time in it was not totally that, I'm sure, because it became a responsibility. It wasn't just for Phyllis and me, as it turned out. I started working on it at the AI lab, and people were looking at the output coming out of the machine and they would say, "Hey, Don, how did you do that?" Guy Steele was visiting from MIT that summer and he said, "Don, I want to port this to take it to MIT." I didn't have two users.

First I had 10, and then I had 100, and then I had 1000. Every time it went to another order of magnitude I had to change the system, because it would almost match their needs but then they would have very good suggestions as to something it wasn't covering. Then when it went to 10,000 and when it went to 100,000, the last stage was 10 years later when I made it friendly for the other alphabets of the world, where people have accented letters and Russian letters. <p>I had started out with only 7-bit codes. I had so many international users by that time, I saw that was a fundamental error. I started out with the idea that nobody would ever want to use a keyboard that could generate more than about 90 characters. It was going to be too complicated. But I was wrong. So it [TeX] was a burden as well, in the sense that I wanted to do a responsible job.

I had actually consciously planned an end-game that would take me four years to finish, and [then] not continue maintaining it and adding on, so that I could have something where I could say, "And now it's done and it's never going to change." I believe this is one aspect of software that, not for every system, but for TeX, it was vital that it became something that wouldn't be a moving target after while.

Feigenbaum: The books on TeX were a period. That is, you put a period down and you said, "This is it."

[Sep 07, 2019] As soon as you stop writing code on a regular basis you stop being a programmer. You lose you qualification very quickly. That's a typical tragedy of talented programmers who became mediocre managers or, worse, theoretical computer scientists

Programming skills are somewhat similar to the skills of people who play violin or piano. As soon a you stop playing violin or piano still start to evaporate. First slowly, then quicker. In two yours you probably will lose 80%.
Notable quotes:
"... I happened to look the other day. I wrote 35 programs in January, and 28 or 29 programs in February. These are small programs, but I have a compulsion. I love to write programs and put things into it. ..."
Sep 07, 2019 | archive.computerhistory.org

Dijkstra said he was proud to be a programmer. Unfortunately he changed his attitude completely, and I think he wrote his last computer program in the 1980s. At this conference I went to in 1967 about simulation language, Chris Strachey was going around asking everybody at the conference what was the last computer program you wrote. This was 1967. Some of the people said, "I've never written a computer program." Others would say, "Oh yeah, here's what I did last week." I asked Edsger this question when I visited him in Texas in the 90s and he said, "Don, I write programs now with pencil and paper, and I execute them in my head." He finds that a good enough discipline.

I think he was mistaken on that. He taught me a lot of things, but I really think that if he had continued... One of Dijkstra's greatest strengths was that he felt a strong sense of aesthetics, and he didn't want to compromise his notions of beauty. They were so intense that when he visited me in the 1960s, I had just come to Stanford. I remember the conversation we had. It was in the first apartment, our little rented house, before we had electricity in the house.

We were sitting there in the dark, and he was telling me how he had just learned about the specifications of the IBM System/360, and it made him so ill that his heart was actually starting to flutter.

He intensely disliked things that he didn't consider clean to work with. So I can see that he would have distaste for the languages that he had to work with on real computers. My reaction to that was to design my own language, and then make Pascal so that it would work well for me in those days. But his response was to do everything only intellectually.

So, programming.

I happened to look the other day. I wrote 35 programs in January, and 28 or 29 programs in February. These are small programs, but I have a compulsion. I love to write programs and put things into it. I think of a question that I want to answer, or I have part of my book where I want to present something. But I can't just present it by reading about it in a book. As I code it, it all becomes clear in my head. It's just the discipline. The fact that I have to translate my knowledge of this method into something that the machine is going to understand just forces me to make that crystal-clear in my head. Then I can explain it to somebody else infinitely better. The exposition is always better if I've implemented it, even though it's going to take me more time.

[Sep 07, 2019] Knuth about computer science and money: At that point I made the decision in my life that I wasn't going to optimize my income;

Sep 07, 2019 | archive.computerhistory.org

So I had a programming hat when I was outside of Cal Tech, and at Cal Tech I am a mathematician taking my grad studies. A startup company, called Green Tree Corporation because green is the color of money, came to me and said, "Don, name your price. Write compilers for us and we will take care of finding computers for you to debug them on, and assistance for you to do your work. Name your price." I said, "Oh, okay. $100,000.", assuming that this was In that era this was not quite at Bill Gate's level today, but it was sort of out there.

The guy didn't blink. He said, "Okay." I didn't really blink either. I said, "Well, I'm not going to do it. I just thought this was an impossible number."

At that point I made the decision in my life that I wasn't going to optimize my income; I was really going to do what I thought I could do for well, I don't know. If you ask me what makes me most happy, number one would be somebody saying "I learned something from you". Number two would be somebody saying "I used your software". But number infinity would be Well, no. Number infinity minus one would be "I bought your book". It's not as good as "I read your book", you know. Then there is "I bought your software"; that was not in my own personal value. So that decision came up. I kept up with the literature about compilers. The Communications of the ACM was where the action was. I also worked with people on trying to debug the ALGOL language, which had problems with it. I published a few papers, like "The Remaining Trouble Spots in ALGOL 60" was one of the papers that I worked on. I chaired a committee called "Smallgol" which was to find a subset of ALGOL that would work on small computers. I was active in programming languages.

[Sep 07, 2019] Knuth: maybe 1 in 50 people have the "computer scientist's" type of intellect

Sep 07, 2019 | conservancy.umn.edu

Frana: You have made the comment several times that maybe 1 in 50 people have the "computer scientist's mind." Knuth: Yes. Frana: I am wondering if a large number of those people are trained professional librarians? [laughter] There is some strangeness there. But can you pinpoint what it is about the mind of the computer scientist that is....

Knuth: That is different?

Frana: What are the characteristics?

Knuth: Two things: one is the ability to deal with non-uniform structure, where you have case one, case two, case three, case four. Or that you have a model of something where the first component is integer, the next component is a Boolean, and the next component is a real number, or something like that, you know, non-uniform structure. To deal fluently with those kinds of entities, which is not typical in other branches of mathematics, is critical. And the other characteristic ability is to shift levels quickly, from looking at something in the large to looking at something in the small, and many levels in between, jumping from one level of abstraction to another. You know that, when you are adding one to some number, that you are actually getting closer to some overarching goal. These skills, being able to deal with nonuniform objects and to see through things from the top level to the bottom level, these are very essential to computer programming, it seems to me. But maybe I am fooling myself because I am too close to it.

Frana: It is the hardest thing to really understand that which you are existing within.

Knuth: Yes.

[Sep 07, 2019] conservancy.umn.edu

Sep 07, 2019 | conservancy.umn.edu

Knuth: Well, certainly it seems the way things are going. You take any particular subject that you are interested in and you try to see if somebody with an American high school education has learned it, and you will be appalled. You know, Jesse Jackson thinks that students know nothing about political science, and I am sure the chemists think that students don't know chemistry, and so on. But somehow they get it when they have to later. But I would say certainly the students now have been getting more of a superficial idea of mathematics than they used to. We have to do remedial stuff at Stanford that we didn't have to do thirty years ago.

Frana: Gio [Wiederhold] said much the same thing to me.

Knuth: The most scandalous thing was that Stanford's course in linear algebra could not get to eigenvalues because the students didn't know about complex numbers. Now every course at Stanford that takes linear algebra as a prerequisite does so because they want the students to know about eigenvalues. But here at Stanford, with one of the highest admission standards of any university, our students don't know complex numbers. So we have to teach them that when they get to college. Yes, this is definitely a breakdown.

Frana: Was your mathematics training in high school particularly good, or was it that you spent a lot of time actually doing problems?

Knuth: No, my mathematics training in high school was not good. My teachers could not answer my questions and so I decided I'd go into physics. I mean, I had played with mathematics in high school. I did a lot of work drawing graphs and plotting points and I used pi as the radix of a number system, and explored what the world would be like if you wanted to do logarithms and you had a number system based on pi. And I had played with stuff like that. But my teachers couldn't answer questions that I had.

... ... ... Frana: Do you have an answer? Are American students different today? In one of your interviews you discuss the problem of creativity versus gross absorption of knowledge.

Knuth: Well, that is part of it. Today we have mostly a sound byte culture, this lack of attention span and trying to learn how to pass exams. Frana: Yes,

[Sep 07, 2019] Knuth: I can be a writer, who tries to organize other people's ideas into some kind of a more coherent structure so that it is easier to put things together

Sep 07, 2019 | conservancy.umn.edu

Knuth: I can be a writer, who tries to organize other people's ideas into some kind of a more coherent structure so that it is easier to put things together. I can see that I could be viewed as a scholar that does his best to check out sources of material, so that people get credit where it is due. And to check facts over, not just to look at the abstract of something, but to see what the methods were that did it and to fill in holes if necessary. I look at my role as being able to understand the motivations and terminology of one group of specialists and boil it down to a certain extent so that people in other parts of the field can use it. I try to listen to the theoreticians and select what they have done that is important to the programmer on the street; to remove technical jargon when possible.

But I have never been good at any kind of a role that would be making policy, or advising people on strategies, or what to do. I have always been best at refining things that are there and bringing order out of chaos. I sometimes raise new ideas that might stimulate people, but not really in a way that would be in any way controlling the flow. The only time I have ever advocated something strongly was with literate programming; but I do this always with the caveat that it works for me, not knowing if it would work for anybody else.

When I work with a system that I have created myself, I can always change it if I don't like it. But everybody who works with my system has to work with what I give them. So I am not able to judge my own stuff impartially. So anyway, I have always felt bad about if anyone says, 'Don, please forecast the future,'...

[Sep 06, 2019] Knuth: Programming and architecture are interrelated and it is impossible to create good architecure wthout actually programming at least of a prototype

Notable quotes:
"... When you're writing a document for a human being to understand, the human being will look at it and nod his head and say, "Yeah, this makes sense." But then there's all kinds of ambiguities and vagueness that you don't realize until you try to put it into a computer. Then all of a sudden, almost every five minutes as you're writing the code, a question comes up that wasn't addressed in the specification. "What if this combination occurs?" ..."
"... When you're faced with implementation, a person who has been delegated this job of working from a design would have to say, "Well hmm, I don't know what the designer meant by this." ..."
Sep 06, 2019 | archive.computerhistory.org

...I showed the second version of this design to two of my graduate students, and I said, "Okay, implement this, please, this summer. That's your summer job." I thought I had specified a language. I had to go away. I spent several weeks in China during the summer of 1977, and I had various other obligations. I assumed that when I got back from my summer trips, I would be able to play around with TeX and refine it a little bit. To my amazement, the students, who were outstanding students, had not competed [it]. They had a system that was able to do about three lines of TeX. I thought, "My goodness, what's going on? I thought these were good students." Well afterwards I changed my attitude to saying, "Boy, they accomplished a miracle."

Because going from my specification, which I thought was complete, they really had an impossible task, and they had succeeded wonderfully with it. These students, by the way, [were] Michael Plass, who has gone on to be the brains behind almost all of Xerox's Docutech software and all kind of things that are inside of typesetting devices now, and Frank Liang, one of the key people for Microsoft Word.

He did important mathematical things as well as his hyphenation methods which are quite used in all languages now. These guys were actually doing great work, but I was amazed that they couldn't do what I thought was just sort of a routine task. Then I became a programmer in earnest, where I had to do it. The reason is when you're doing programming, you have to explain something to a computer, which is dumb.

When you're writing a document for a human being to understand, the human being will look at it and nod his head and say, "Yeah, this makes sense." But then there's all kinds of ambiguities and vagueness that you don't realize until you try to put it into a computer. Then all of a sudden, almost every five minutes as you're writing the code, a question comes up that wasn't addressed in the specification. "What if this combination occurs?"

It just didn't occur to the person writing the design specification. When you're faced with implementation, a person who has been delegated this job of working from a design would have to say, "Well hmm, I don't know what the designer meant by this."

If I hadn't been in China they would've scheduled an appointment with me and stopped their programming for a day. Then they would come in at the designated hour and we would talk. They would take 15 minutes to present to me what the problem was, and then I would think about it for a while, and then I'd say, "Oh yeah, do this. " Then they would go home and they would write code for another five minutes and they'd have to schedule another appointment.

I'm probably exaggerating, but this is why I think Bob Floyd's Chiron compiler never got going. Bob worked many years on a beautiful idea for a programming language, where he designed a language called Chiron, but he never touched the programming himself. I think this was actually the reason that he had trouble with that project, because it's so hard to do the design unless you're faced with the low-level aspects of it, explaining it to a machine instead of to another person.

Forsythe, I think it was, who said, "People have said traditionally that you don't understand something until you've taught it in a class. The truth is you don't really understand something until you've taught it to a computer, until you've been able to program it." At this level, programming was absolutely important

[Sep 06, 2019] Oral histories

Sep 06, 2019 | www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu

Having just celebrated my 10000th birthday (in base three), I'm operating a little bit in history mode. Every once in awhile, people have asked me to record some of my memories of past events --- I guess because I've been fortunate enough to live at some pretty exciting times, computersciencewise. These after-the-fact recollections aren't really as reliable as contemporary records; but they do at least show what I think I remember. And the stories are interesting, because they involve lots of other people.

So, before these instances of oral history themselves begin to fade from my memory, I've decided to record some links to several that I still know about:

Interview by Philip L Frana at the Charles Babbage Institute, November 2001
transcript of OH 332
audio file (2:00:33)
Interviews commissioned by Peoples Archive, taped in March 2006
playlist for 97 videos (about 2--8 minutes each)
Interview by Ed Feigenbaum at the Computer History Museum, March 2007
Part 1 (3:07:25) Part 2 (4:02:46)
(transcript)
Interview by Susan Schofield for the Stanford Historical Society, May 2018
(audio files, 2:20:30 and 2:14:25; transcript)
Interview by David Brock and Hansen Hsu about the computer programs that I wrote during the 1950s, July 2018
video (1:30:0)
(texts of the actual programs)

Some extended interviews, not available online, have also been published in books, notably in Chapters 7--17 of Companion to the Papers of Donald Knuth (conversations with Dikran Karagueuzian in the summer of 1996), and in two books by Edgar G. Daylight, The Essential Knuth (2013), Algorithmic Barriers Falling (2014).

[Sep 06, 2019] Knuth: No, I stopped going to conferences. It was too discouraging. Computer programming keeps getting harder because more stuff is discovered

Sep 06, 2019 | conservancy.umn.edu

Knuth: No, I stopped going to conferences. It was too discouraging. Computer programming keeps getting harder because more stuff is discovered. I can cope with learning about one new technique per day, but I can't take ten in a day all at once. So conferences are depressing; it means I have so much more work to do. If I hide myself from the truth I am much happier.

[Sep 06, 2019] How TAOCP was hatched

Notable quotes:
"... Also, Addison-Wesley was the people who were asking me to do this book; my favorite textbooks had been published by Addison Wesley. They had done the books that I loved the most as a student. For them to come to me and say, "Would you write a book for us?", and here I am just a secondyear gradate student -- this was a thrill. ..."
"... But in those days, The Art of Computer Programming was very important because I'm thinking of the aesthetical: the whole question of writing programs as something that has artistic aspects in all senses of the word. The one idea is "art" which means artificial, and the other "art" means fine art. All these are long stories, but I've got to cover it fairly quickly. ..."
Sep 06, 2019 | archive.computerhistory.org

Knuth: This is, of course, really the story of my life, because I hope to live long enough to finish it. But I may not, because it's turned out to be such a huge project. I got married in the summer of 1961, after my first year of graduate school. My wife finished college, and I could use the money I had made -- the $5000 on the compiler -- to finance a trip to Europe for our honeymoon.

We had four months of wedded bliss in Southern California, and then a man from Addison-Wesley came to visit me and said "Don, we would like you to write a book about how to write compilers."

The more I thought about it, I decided "Oh yes, I've got this book inside of me."

I sketched out that day -- I still have the sheet of tablet paper on which I wrote -- I sketched out 12 chapters that I thought ought to be in such a book. I told Jill, my wife, "I think I'm going to write a book."

As I say, we had four months of bliss, because the rest of our marriage has all been devoted to this book. Well, we still have had happiness. But really, I wake up every morning and I still haven't finished the book. So I try to -- I have to -- organize the rest of my life around this, as one main unifying theme. The book was supposed to be about how to write a compiler. They had heard about me from one of their editorial advisors, that I knew something about how to do this. The idea appealed to me for two main reasons. One is that I did enjoy writing. In high school I had been editor of the weekly paper. In college I was editor of the science magazine, and I worked on the campus paper as copy editor. And, as I told you, I wrote the manual for that compiler that we wrote. I enjoyed writing, number one.

Also, Addison-Wesley was the people who were asking me to do this book; my favorite textbooks had been published by Addison Wesley. They had done the books that I loved the most as a student. For them to come to me and say, "Would you write a book for us?", and here I am just a secondyear gradate student -- this was a thrill.

Another very important reason at the time was that I knew that there was a great need for a book about compilers, because there were a lot of people who even in 1962 -- this was January of 1962 -- were starting to rediscover the wheel. The knowledge was out there, but it hadn't been explained. The people who had discovered it, though, were scattered all over the world and they didn't know of each other's work either, very much. I had been following it. Everybody I could think of who could write a book about compilers, as far as I could see, they would only give a piece of the fabric. They would slant it to their own view of it. There might be four people who could write about it, but they would write four different books. I could present all four of their viewpoints in what I would think was a balanced way, without any axe to grind, without slanting it towards something that I thought would be misleading to the compiler writer for the future. I considered myself as a journalist, essentially. I could be the expositor, the tech writer, that could do the job that was needed in order to take the work of these brilliant people and make it accessible to the world. That was my motivation. Now, I didn't have much time to spend on it then, I just had this page of paper with 12 chapter headings on it. That's all I could do while I'm a consultant at Burroughs and doing my graduate work. I signed a contract, but they said "We know it'll take you a while." I didn't really begin to have much time to work on it until 1963, my third year of graduate school, as I'm already finishing up on my thesis. In the summer of '62, I guess I should mention, I wrote another compiler. This was for Univac; it was a FORTRAN compiler. I spent the summer, I sold my soul to the devil, I guess you say, for three months in the summer of 1962 to write a FORTRAN compiler. I believe that the salary for that was $15,000, which was much more than an assistant professor. I think assistant professors were getting eight or nine thousand in those days.

Feigenbaum: Well, when I started in 1960 at [University of California] Berkeley, I was getting $7,600 for the nine-month year.

Knuth: Knuth: Yeah, so you see it. I got $15,000 for a summer job in 1962 writing a FORTRAN compiler. One day during that summer I was writing the part of the compiler that looks up identifiers in a hash table. The method that we used is called linear probing. Basically you take the variable name that you want to look up, you scramble it, like you square it or something like this, and that gives you a number between one and, well in those days it would have been between 1 and 1000, and then you look there. If you find it, good; if you don't find it, go to the next place and keep on going until you either get to an empty place, or you find the number you're looking for. It's called linear probing. There was a rumor that one of Professor Feller's students at Princeton had tried to figure out how fast linear probing works and was unable to succeed. This was a new thing for me. It was a case where I was doing programming, but I also had a mathematical problem that would go into my other [job]. My winter job was being a math student, my summer job was writing compilers. There was no mix. These worlds did not intersect at all in my life at that point. So I spent one day during the summer while writing the compiler looking at the mathematics of how fast does linear probing work. I got lucky, and I solved the problem. I figured out some math, and I kept two or three sheets of paper with me and I typed it up. ["Notes on 'Open' Addressing', 7/22/63] I guess that's on the internet now, because this became really the genesis of my main research work, which developed not to be working on compilers, but to be working on what they call analysis of algorithms, which is, have a computer method and find out how good is it quantitatively. I can say, if I got so many things to look up in the table, how long is linear probing going to take. It dawned on me that this was just one of many algorithms that would be important, and each one would lead to a fascinating mathematical problem. This was easily a good lifetime source of rich problems to work on. Here I am then, in the middle of 1962, writing this FORTRAN compiler, and I had one day to do the research and mathematics that changed my life for my future research trends. But now I've gotten off the topic of what your original question was.

Feigenbaum: We were talking about sort of the.. You talked about the embryo of The Art of Computing. The compiler book morphed into The Art of Computer Programming, which became a seven-volume plan.

Knuth: Exactly. Anyway, I'm working on a compiler and I'm thinking about this. But now I'm starting, after I finish this summer job, then I began to do things that were going to be relating to the book. One of the things I knew I had to have in the book was an artificial machine, because I'm writing a compiler book but machines are changing faster than I can write books. I have to have a machine that I'm totally in control of. I invented this machine called MIX, which was typical of the computers of 1962.

In 1963 I wrote a simulator for MIX so that I could write sample programs for it, and I taught a class at Caltech on how to write programs in assembly language for this hypothetical computer. Then I started writing the parts that dealt with sorting problems and searching problems, like the linear probing idea. I began to write those parts, which are part of a compiler, of the book. I had several hundred pages of notes gathering for those chapters for The Art of Computer Programming. Before I graduated, I've already done quite a bit of writing on The Art of Computer Programming.

I met George Forsythe about this time. George was the man who inspired both of us [Knuth and Feigenbaum] to come to Stanford during the '60s. George came down to Southern California for a talk, and he said, "Come up to Stanford. How about joining our faculty?" I said "Oh no, I can't do that. I just got married, and I've got to finish this book first." I said, "I think I'll finish the book next year, and then I can come up [and] start thinking about the rest of my life, but I want to get my book done before my son is born." Well, John is now 40-some years old and I'm not done with the book. Part of my lack of expertise is any good estimation procedure as to how long projects are going to take. I way underestimated how much needed to be written about in this book. Anyway, I started writing the manuscript, and I went merrily along writing pages of things that I thought really needed to be said. Of course, it didn't take long before I had started to discover a few things of my own that weren't in any of the existing literature. I did have an axe to grind. The message that I was presenting was in fact not going to be unbiased at all. It was going to be based on my own particular slant on stuff, and that original reason for why I should write the book became impossible to sustain. But the fact that I had worked on linear probing and solved the problem gave me a new unifying theme for the book. I was going to base it around this idea of analyzing algorithms, and have some quantitative ideas about how good methods were. Not just that they worked, but that they worked well: this method worked 3 times better than this method, or 3.1 times better than this method. Also, at this time I was learning mathematical techniques that I had never been taught in school. I found they were out there, but they just hadn't been emphasized openly, about how to solve problems of this kind.

So my book would also present a different kind of mathematics than was common in the curriculum at the time, that was very relevant to analysis of algorithm. I went to the publishers, I went to Addison Wesley, and said "How about changing the title of the book from 'The Art of Computer Programming' to 'The Analysis of Algorithms'." They said that will never sell; their focus group couldn't buy that one. I'm glad they stuck to the original title, although I'm also glad to see that several books have now come out called "The Analysis of Algorithms", 20 years down the line.

But in those days, The Art of Computer Programming was very important because I'm thinking of the aesthetical: the whole question of writing programs as something that has artistic aspects in all senses of the word. The one idea is "art" which means artificial, and the other "art" means fine art. All these are long stories, but I've got to cover it fairly quickly.

I've got The Art of Computer Programming started out, and I'm working on my 12 chapters. I finish a rough draft of all 12 chapters by, I think it was like 1965. I've got 3,000 pages of notes, including a very good example of what you mentioned about seeing holes in the fabric. One of the most important chapters in the book is parsing: going from somebody's algebraic formula and figuring out the structure of the formula. Just the way I had done in seventh grade finding the structure of English sentences, I had to do this with mathematical sentences.

Chapter ten is all about parsing of context-free language, [which] is what we called it at the time. I covered what people had published about context-free languages and parsing. I got to the end of the chapter and I said, well, you can combine these ideas and these ideas, and all of a sudden you get a unifying thing which goes all the way to the limit. These other ideas had sort of gone partway there. They would say "Oh, if a grammar satisfies this condition, I can do it efficiently." "If a grammar satisfies this condition, I can do it efficiently." But now, all of a sudden, I saw there was a way to say I can find the most general condition that can be done efficiently without looking ahead to the end of the sentence. That you could make a decision on the fly, reading from left to right, about the structure of the thing. That was just a natural outgrowth of seeing the different pieces of the fabric that other people had put together, and writing it into a chapter for the first time. But I felt that this general concept, well, I didn't feel that I had surrounded the concept. I knew that I had it, and I could prove it, and I could check it, but I couldn't really intuit it all in my head. I knew it was right, but it was too hard for me, really, to explain it well.

So I didn't put in The Art of Computer Programming. I thought it was beyond the scope of my book. Textbooks don't have to cover everything when you get to the harder things; then you have to go to the literature. My idea at that time [is] I'm writing this book and I'm thinking it's going to be published very soon, so any little things I discover and put in the book I didn't bother to write a paper and publish in the journal because I figure it'll be in my book pretty soon anyway. Computer science is changing so fast, my book is bound to be obsolete.

It takes a year for it to go through editing, and people drawing the illustrations, and then they have to print it and bind it and so on. I have to be a little bit ahead of the state-of-the-art if my book isn't going to be obsolete when it comes out. So I kept most of the stuff to myself that I had, these little ideas I had been coming up with. But when I got to this idea of left-to-right parsing, I said "Well here's something I don't really understand very well. I'll publish this, let other people figure out what it is, and then they can tell me what I should have said." I published that paper I believe in 1965, at the end of finishing my draft of the chapter, which didn't get as far as that story, LR(k). Well now, textbooks of computer science start with LR(k) and take off from there. But I want to give you an idea of

[Aug 12, 2019] Hudson contributions on understanding the origin and social dynamics of neoliberalism

Aug 12, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Aug 11 2019 21:27 utc | 18

Responding to several questions in the last open thread, I mentioned the fact that Epstein's case reflects the great amount of corruption prevalent within the Outlaw US Empire, and it's that aspect of the case that might be used as a campaign issue, particularly since Sanders is going to great lengths to point to the utterly corrupt and immoral nature of "health" insurance and Big Pharma. That was exactly the line he presented on today's Face The Nation program, despite the primary fccus being gun control:

"'The American people are sick and tired of powerful corporate interest determining what goes on in Washington,' Sanders said. 'You know that's whether it's the healthcare industry, whether it is the fossil fuel industry, whether it is the NRA.'"

The other important point Sanders made was the divisive nature of Trump's rhetoric--that becoming more divided now isn't in the nation's best interest:

"He is creating the kind of divisiveness in this nation that is the last thing we should be doing."

Ah, but that's exactly what the Current Oligarchy wants done--create an ever more divisive nation such that solidarity--and thus Movement Building--becomes ever harder to attain and realize.

karlof1 , Aug 11 2019 21:54 utc | 22

18 Cont'd--

IMO, it matters not whether Epstein's alive or dead. What matters is that a person like Epstein was able to become what Epstein became, which was enabled through the great, vast cesspool of corruption that the global elite inhabit. Epstein ought to become the Poster Boy for ridding the nation of government and elite corruption that affects every aspect of life here and everywhere. As many have said, Billionaires ought not to exist--no one individual should have that much wealth and power. The thesis embodied within Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth (PDF) ought to be made into law such that it's ensured that those fortunate enough to become well-off thanks to the public--directly or indirectly via government--return a great proportion of that wealth to their benefactors. IMO, had such a law been in force, the corruption that enabled Epstein would have had a more difficult time doing what it did.

Yes, there are other factors/actors involved that aided Epstein's racket. We have an excellent idea of who and what--China has the proper solution for such corruption. Ridding the world of those factors/actors ought to be equivalent to the Quest for The Grail.

At least comfort can come from knowing that the evil within Syria is currently being eradicated, and that additional evil plans are being thwarted thanks to the Forces of Resistance.

financial matters , Aug 12 2019 3:30 utc | 55

Ellen Brown has a good blog post up on China, https://ellenbrown.com/2019/08/09/neoliberalism-has-met-its-match-in-china/

Basically stating that China is too powerful for the US to overcome with its typical attempts to destroy anything that isn't completely controlled by private finance.

""What is mainly devalued when a currency is devalued, says Hudson, is the price of the country's labor and the working conditions of its laborers. The reason American workers cannot compete with foreign workers is not that the dollar is overvalued. It is due to their higher costs of housing, education, medical services and transportation. In most competitor countries, these costs are subsidized by the government.""

""China today is a peer competitor that is more formidable economically, more sophisticated diplomatically, and more flexible ideologically than the Soviet Union ever was. And unlike the Soviet Union, China is deeply integrated into the world and intertwined with the U.S. economy.""

"" The Chinese have proven the effectiveness of their public banking system in supporting their industries and their workers. Rather than seeing it as an existential threat, we could thank them for test-driving the model and take a spin in it ourselves.""

psychohistorian , Aug 12 2019 3:59 utc | 58

@ financial matters with the Ellen Brown link...thanks

Let me repeat one of the quotes that I want to expand upon

"" The Chinese have proven the effectiveness of their public banking system in supporting their industries and their workers. Rather than seeing it as an existential threat, we could thank them for test-driving the model and take a spin in it ourselves.""

While I agree overwhelmingly with the concept, I have come to think that Trump was (s)elected by the global elite to speed up the demise of he current Western way before enough "knowledge" of the China/Ellen Brown concept is widely held. I read an article at Strategic Culture (no link) about how the EU has ensconced the financial independence of the banking system in treaties that are much harder to change than by the politicians in Brussels.

The point I am trying to make is that the sooner the world crisis is brought to a head, the better chance global private finance has to survive the resulting reset. If the elite were to let the Western crazy go on longer there would be more of a chance of ALL the Western countries agreeing to try the China way....which is almost a prerequisite for success. The elite of global private finance need to survive in some form to stay relevant in the world and if China had more success under their belt (and road...grin) the glaring difference between the financial perfidy of the West would be more glaringly obvious that it is to many at this juncture.

I have been pondering what the heck is going on since Trump "won" and this now makes the most sense to me.

As example of the ignorance of the public I submit the limited support I get for my one note Samba here at what is purported to be an enlightened gathering of humanity....

The elite need to make their move while they still have control of the media/propaganda machine that continues to be very effective....but slipping

Grieved , Aug 12 2019 3:59 utc | 59

@55 financial matters

Wonderful link, thank you for the Ellen Brown piece. That Hudson interview at Guns and Butter is the gift that keeps on giving. Hudson is like a beef-stock cube: you have to give it time and add things to it but it's the highly condensed basis of a powerful stew. And what Brown adds is formidable.

It almost seems as if everyone is fine with how money is created. What's more important is how it circulates, and what it achieves. I love her remarks that China can add or subtract interest, carry or write off a loan, and in effect do everything with the money that it deems necessary to produce socially useful results.

The mistake of the old communist model was to "own" the means of production. The success of the new socialist systems that have learned from this lies in not caring who actually "owns" anything, but in making sure that the money of the economy works to produce the social good. If "ownership" is good for the people, let them own. But the money? That belongs to state control.

I enjoyed all the quotes from Ellen Brown's article you supplied - as I enjoy everything you infrequently post, by the way - and how about one more quote, addressing the threat of the Asian Tigers to the Chicago model, and how it was dealt with:

Just as the US had engaged in a Cold War to destroy the Soviet communist model, so Western financial interests set out to destroy this emerging Asian threat. It was defused when Western neoliberal economists persuaded Japan and the Asian Tigers to adopt the free-market system and open their economies and their companies to foreign investors. Western speculators then took down the vulnerable countries one by one in the "Asian crisis" of 1997-98. China alone was left as an economic threat to the Western neoliberal model, and it is this existential threat that is the target of the trade and currency wars today.

And what the west saw as the main threat was the state involvement in the economy. It was proving its value, as it did in creating the American Dream of the nineteen-fifties in the USA itself, and as it continues to do in all the modern socialist revolutionary states with their amazingly healthy economies - all tested in the trial-by-fire of US sanctions.

Many thanks again for the link. I would have missed that one, and it's a gem!

Hoarsewhisperer , Aug 12 2019 5:54 utc | 73
"The thesis embodied within Andrew Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth (PDF) ought to be made into law such that it's ensured that those fortunate enough to become well-off thanks to the public--directly or indirectly via government--return a great proportion of that wealth to their benefactors. IMO, had such a law been in force, the corruption that enabled Epstein would have had a more difficult time doing what it did."
...
Posted by: karlof1 | Aug 11 2019 21:54 utc | 22

That's precisely how Western economies operated until the 1960s. The UK was an outstanding example. Lord Nuffield (British Motor Corporation) paid 19 shillings and 6 pence on every Pound of income beyond the top threshold. The Beatles switched their affairs beyond the reach of the UK Taxman because their success yielded Nuffield-ish levels of income.
And Income Tax was just the tip of the iceberg. Estate Tax resulted in many Tr-raditional Old English estates being sold off to pay the Death Duties.

I have a hazy recollection that you're a fan of Michael Hudson's economic philosophy. If two-way communication is an option on Hudson's website, ask him to publish a chart hilighting the difference between Tax Scales of the 1950s and Tax Scales post-2010 in any Western country of his choice. It'll make your hair stand on end but it will also make it crystal clear WHY the Rich are getting richer and the Poor poorer in the (Thoroughly Modernised) 21st Century.
Buying politicians is the most lucrative investment of all...

karlof1 , Aug 12 2019 6:06 utc | 75

Hoarsewhisperer @73--

Thanks for your reply! Yes, I'm a Hudson fan. And I'm aware of what the tax levels were once-upon-a-time. The "Libertarian Swindle" that in part gave us Neoliberalism and Junk Economics was the active power behind the massive sea-change that has ruined so many good public works.

Milton Freidman, Margaret Thatcher, and several others on both sides of the pond deserve to have their bodies exhumed, drawn and quartered, then burned and the ashes thrown into the ocean for the evil they worked.

Formerly T-Bear , Aug 12 2019 8:58 utc | 82

@ karlof1 | Aug 12 2019 6:06 utc | 75

Thanks for mentioning '"Libertarian Swindle"' as door opener for the neoliberal economic agenda but it actually predates that. One must go back to post WWII politics with the early rebound of conservative efforts to regain political dominance; e.g. communists in state department (ca 1946-7); communists in military (McCarthyism 1947-9); Who lost China (1950-3); John Birch Society (1953-); a tome deaf Eisenhower administration (Dulles Bros. et al); Loss of Cuba (1958-present); 1968 Nixon "Law and Order" opening DoJ removing enforcement of regulatory law resulting regulatory capture by 'business'; 1980 smarmy election of Reagan using "Moral Majority" to open capture of government itself. Yes "Libertarian Swindle" was present in all this history and much more but that history is being clouded, subverted, destroyed and being made useless as more ignorant opinion is being used to replace knowledge of where we once were and where we had been. Once that takes complete effect, it shall be a house of mirrors henceforth; see how well any can navigate under those circumstances. Should predict that nothing will end well at that point.

c1ue , Aug 12 2019 17:06 utc | 108
@karlof1 #105
Hudson has never concealed that he does consulting work for many governments, as well as individuals.
Super Imperialism was translated into Chinese almost immediately.
As for tariffs: I'm sorry, but focusing on product prices is exactly what neo-liberal economists do. While tariffs *might* increase the prices of products from China (China's lowered exchange rate offsets the tariffs to a significant extent), it is the lack of jobs which really hurt Americans. As Dr. Michael Hudson has said repeatedly: when America was industrializing, it put heavy tariffs on classes of products in which the U.S. government wanted to grow its own manufacturing capacity for - and from these, American jobs.
Farmers in the US and EU, doctors, lawyers, pharm companies and many more verticals are heavily protected by walls of patents, accreditations and other import restrictions - it is the blue collar working class which is fully (and hypocritically) exposed to foreign competition.
And while I agree that most of the audience in Trump rallies can't articulate the above, they do know they've been fucked. And they want someone, anyone, and anyhow, to change that. Agreed that Trump may not be that president, but he's at least paying lip service to their pain - as opposed to the liberals who keep talking about training and competitiveness and other meritocratic bullshit.
karlof1 , Aug 12 2019 17:19 utc | 111
Another Hudson audio only program that is a must listen. What's discussed you won't read/hear/see in most media. Just the insider info about what Morgan Stanley told its Sovereign Wealth Fund holders is worth the listen as it's 100% related to the direction global finance is heading as de-dollarization accelerates. The background context to the verbal spat between Germany and the Outlaw US Empire's ambassador that occurred late last week I linked to and what that means is also discussed. For the 11 or so minutes Hudson gets to talk in answer to the questions posed, the information is outstanding. Again, the program was recorded on July 30th. Sorry for the delay in commenting about it, but finding time to listen/watch is too often at a premium for me, and today I was able to do some catching-up.

JW @107--

Yes, just as Westerners remarked about the "foreignness" of the East, we now hear similar things said by Chinese about the West. Curious isn't it.

[Aug 03, 2019] This is neoliberalism - introducing the invisible ideology

August 02, 2019
BarakalypseNow

Neoliberalism is an economic ideology that exists within the framework of capitalism. Over four decades ago, neoliberalism become the dominant economic paradigm of global society.

These BarakalypseNow video series, are tracing the history of neoliberalism, starting with a survey of neoliberal philosophy and research, a historical reconstruction of the movement pushing for neoliberal policy solutions, witnessing the damage that neoliberalism did to its first victims in the developing world, and then charting neoliberalism's infiltration of the political systems of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Learn how neoliberalism is generating crises for humanity at an unprecedented rate.

Neoliberalism was a reaction. It was an effort to disassemble a previous vision of society that once held sway over most of the world. In order to understand neoliberalism, it's important to first understand the world before neoliberalism; the world which neoliberalism considered unacceptable, and in need of urgent reconfiguration.

Learn about the world of embedded liberalism.

The story of neoliberalism is a story about the power of ideas. Embedded liberalism was in power, but it was not without resistance. Academics and businessmen who opposed the New Deal and British social democracy were only begrudgingly accepting of the situation at best, or on the warpath against government intervention in the economy at worst. These two factions allied with one another to create an idea so powerful that it would covertly undo their losses to embedded liberalism by supplanting it entirely. This is where the story of neoliberalism begins.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/myH3gg5o0t0

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[Jul 30, 2019] FreeDOS turns 25 years old by Jim Hall

Jul 28, 2019 | opensource.com

FreeDOS turns 25 years old: An origin story The operating system's history is a great example of the open source software model: developers working together to create something.

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FreeDOS .

That's a major milestone for any open source software project, and I'm proud of the work that we've done on it over the past quarter century. I'm also proud of how we built FreeDOS because it is a great example of how the open source software model works.

For its time, MS-DOS was a powerful operating system. I'd used DOS for years, ever since my parents replaced our aging Apple II computer with a newer IBM machine. MS-DOS provided a flexible command line, which I quite liked and that came in handy to manipulate my files. Over the years, I learned how to write my own utilities in C to expand its command-line capabilities even further.

Around 1994, Microsoft announced that its next planned version of Windows would do away with MS-DOS. But I liked DOS. Even though I had started migrating to Linux, I still booted into MS-DOS to run applications that Linux didn't have yet.

I figured that if we wanted to keep DOS, we would need to write our own. And that's how FreeDOS was born.

On June 29, 1994, I made a small announcement about my idea to the comp.os.msdos.apps newsgroup on Usenet.

ANNOUNCEMENT OF PD-DOS PROJECT:
A few months ago, I posted articles relating to starting a public domain version of DOS. The general support for this at the time was strong, and many people agreed with the statement, "start writing!" So, I have

Announcing the first effort to produce a PD-DOS. I have written up a "manifest" describing the goals of such a project and an outline of the work, as well as a "task list" that shows exactly what needs to be written. I'll post those here, and let discussion follow.

While I announced the project as PD-DOS (for "public domain," although the abbreviation was meant to mimic IBM's "PC-DOS"), we soon changed the name to Free-DOS and later FreeDOS.

I started working on it right away. First, I shared the utilities I had written to expand the DOS command line. Many of them reproduced MS-DOS features, including CLS, DATE, DEL, FIND, HELP, and MORE. Some added new features to DOS that I borrowed from Unix, such as TEE and TRCH (a simple implementation of Unix's tr). I contributed over a dozen FreeDOS utilities

By sharing my utilities, I gave other developers a starting point. And by sharing my source code under the GNU General Public License (GNU GPL), I implicitly allowed others to add new features and fix bugs.

Other developers who saw FreeDOS taking shape contacted me and wanted to help. Tim Norman was one of the first; Tim volunteered to write a command shell (COMMAND.COM, later named FreeCOM). Others contributed utilities that replicated or expanded the DOS command line.

We released our first alpha version as soon as possible. Less than three months after announcing FreeDOS, we had an Alpha 1 distribution that collected our utilities. By the time we released Alpha 5, FreeDOS boasted over 60 utilities. And FreeDOS included features never imagined in MS-DOS, including internet connectivity via a PPP dial-up driver and dual-monitor support using a primary VGA monitor and a secondary Hercules Mono monitor.

New developers joined the project, and we welcomed them. By October 1998, FreeDOS had a working kernel, thanks to Pat Villani. FreeDOS also sported a host of new features that brought not just parity with MS-DOS but surpassed MS-DOS, including ANSI support and a print spooler that resembled Unix lpr.

You may be familiar with other milestones. We crept our way towards the 1.0 label, finally releasing FreeDOS 1.0 in September 2006, FreeDOS 1.1 in January 2012, and FreeDOS 1.2 in December 2016. MS-DOS stopped being a moving target long ago, so we didn't need to update as frequently after the 1.0 release.

Today, FreeDOS is a very modern DOS. We've moved beyond "classic DOS," and now FreeDOS features lots of development tools such as compilers, assemblers, and debuggers. We have lots of editors beyond the plain DOS Edit editor, including Fed, Pico, TDE, and versions of Emacs and Vi. FreeDOS supports networking and even provides a simple graphical web browser (Dillo). And we have tons of new utilities, including many that will make Linux users feel at home.

FreeDOS got where it is because developers worked together to create something. In the spirit of open source software, we contributed to each other's work by fixing bugs and adding new features. We treated our users as co-developers; we always found ways to include people, whether they were writing code or writing documentation. And we made decisions through consensus based on merit. If that sounds familiar, it's because those are the core values of open source software: transparency, collaboration, release early and often, meritocracy, and community. That's the open source way !

I encourage you to download FreeDOS 1.2 and give it a try.

[Jun 23, 2019] How neoliberalism managed to displace the New Deal capitalism

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 04:22

The likes of BruceMajors here don't get it.

'Big-gubment' exists to enforce property-rights. Libertarians bleat on about how freedom is founded in the right own to property and yet fail to realise that these so-called 'rights', which are a negation of natural rights (the world and it's resources belongs to all equally, and that lands to land, water and seed are in essence premised on theft) requires a large, powerful and authoritarian apparatus capable of effectively projecting violence to enforce property rights. claims to property are premised on violence.

Your so-called philosophy fails on first premises.

And in case you don't get it, the threat of a worker revolution saw the welfare state arise as a carrot to complement the stick. With the stick becoming increasingly ineffective in the earlier part of the 20th century, the disquiet needed to be quelled through other means. That method was the social democratic welfare state. The collapse of Communism as an existential threat, followed by the emergence of economic globalisation (shopping around for the cheapest labour), consumerism and automation have all effectively eroded class solidarity amongst those most disenfranchised by a state enforced inequality and eroded the value of labour. The beneficiaries of the state as a mechanism for enforcing their claims to property no longer need the working classes.

Hence we find that around the world, western democracies are withdrawing the carrot and reasserting the stick.

[Apr 16, 2019] European contributions to computing and the internet

Apr 16, 2019 | www.unz.com

Amerimutt Golem , says: April 16, 2019 at 10:28 am GMT

@Thomm .... ... ...

Actually smart Northern European men enabled the very Internet you are using to spread kosher propaganda.

1. Gottfried Leibniz/German – binary number system.
2. George Boole/English – Boolean logic.
3. Konrad Kuze/German – electronic computer.
4. Donald Davies/Welsh – packet switching.
5. Clifford Cocks/English – public key encryption years before Rivest , Shamir, and Adleman.
6. Edsger Dijkstra/Dutch – Dijkstra's algorithm and programming.
7. Tim Berners-Lee/English – HTML and http.
8. Håkon Wium Lie/Norwegian – Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
9. Linus Torvalds/Finn – Linux on which many web servers run. Klaus Knopper/German – Knoppix Linux variant.
10. Frank Codd/English – relational database model.
11. Michael Widenius/Swede – MySQL on which many web applications run.
12. Kristen Nygaard & Ole-Johan Dahl/Norwegians – object-oriented programming and Simula programming language.
13. Guido van Rossum/Dutch – Python programming language.
14. Lennart Augustsson/Swede – Haskell programming language.
15. Bjarne Stroustrup/Dane – C++ programming language.
17 Geoffrey Hinton/English – artificial intelligence.
18. Jürgen Dethloff and Helmut Göttrup/Germans – chip card used in mobile phones plus credit and debit cards.
19. Karlheinz Brandenburg/German – MP3 format.

[Mar 14, 2019] Neoliberalism: the deep story that lies beneath Donald Trump triumph by George Monbiot

Nov 14, 2016 | www.theguardian.com
The book was The Constitution of Liberty by Frederick Hayek . Its publication, in 1960, marked the transition from an honest, if extreme, philosophy to an outright racket. The philosophy was called neoliberalism . It saw competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The market would discover a natural hierarchy of winners and losers, creating a more efficient system than could ever be devised through planning or by design. Anything that impeded this process, such as significant tax, regulation, trade union activity or state provision, was counter-productive. Unrestricted entrepreneurs would create the wealth that would trickle down to everyone.

This, at any rate, is how it was originally conceived. But by the time Hayek came to write The Constitution of Liberty, the network of lobbyists and thinkers he had founded was being lavishly funded by multimillionaires who saw the doctrine as a means of defending themselves against democracy. Not every aspect of the neoliberal programme advanced their interests. Hayek, it seems, set out to close the gap.

He begins the book by advancing the narrowest possible conception of liberty: an absence of coercion. He rejects such notions as political freedom, universal rights, human equality and the distribution of wealth, all of which, by restricting the behaviour of the wealthy and powerful, intrude on the absolute freedom from coercion he demands.

Democracy, by contrast, "is not an ultimate or absolute value". In fact, liberty depends on preventing the majority from exercising choice over the direction that politics and society might take.

He justifies this position by creating a heroic narrative of extreme wealth. He conflates the economic elite, spending their money in new ways, with philosophical and scientific pioneers. Just as the political philosopher should be free to think the unthinkable, so the very rich should be free to do the undoable, without constraint by public interest or public opinion.

The ultra rich are "scouts", "experimenting with new styles of living", who blaze the trails that the rest of society will follow. The progress of society depends on the liberty of these "independents" to gain as much money as they want and spend it how they wish. All that is good and useful, therefore, arises from inequality. There should be no connection between merit and reward, no distinction made between earned and unearned income, and no limit to the rents they can charge.

Inherited wealth is more socially useful than earned wealth: "the idle rich", who don't have to work for their money, can devote themselves to influencing "fields of thought and opinion, of tastes and beliefs". Even when they seem to be spending money on nothing but "aimless display", they are in fact acting as society's vanguard.

role="main" itemtype="http://schema.org/NewsArticle" itemscope="" data-test-id="article-root"> Thatcherism and Reaganism were not ideologies in their own right: they were just two faces of neoliberalism. Their massive tax cuts for the rich, crushing of trade unions, reduction in public housing, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services were all proposed by Hayek and his disciples. But the real triumph of this network was not its capture of the right, but its colonisation of parties that once stood for everything Hayek detested.

Bill Clinton and Tony Blair did not possess a narrative of their own. Rather than develop a new political story, they thought it was sufficient to triangulate . In other words, they extracted a few elements of what their parties had once believed, mixed them with elements of what their opponents believed, and developed from this unlikely combination a "third way".

It was inevitable that the blazing, insurrectionary confidence of neoliberalism would exert a stronger gravitational pull than the dying star of social democracy. Hayek's triumph could be witnessed everywhere from Blair's expansion of the private finance initiative to Clinton's repeal of the Glass-Steagal Act , which had regulated the financial sector. For all his grace and touch, Barack Obama, who didn't possess a narrative either (except "hope"), was slowly reeled in by those who owned the means of persuasion.

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Facebook Twitter Pinterest -> What will be the first actions Trump takes as president?

As I warned in April, the result is first disempowerment then disenfranchisement. If the dominant ideology stops governments from changing social outcomes, they can no longer respond to the needs of the electorate. Politics becomes irrelevant to people's lives; debate is reduced to the jabber of a remote elite. The disenfranchised turn instead to a virulent anti-politics in which facts and arguments are replaced by slogans, symbols and sensation. The man who sank Hillary Clinton's bid for the presidency was not Donald Trump. It was her husband.

The paradoxical result is that the backlash against neoliberalism's crushing of political choice has elevated just the kind of man that Hayek worshipped. Trump, who has no coherent politics, is not a classic neoliberal. But he is the perfect representation of Hayek's "independent"; the beneficiary of inherited wealth, unconstrained by common morality, whose gross predilections strike a new path that others may follow. The neoliberal thinktankers are now swarming round this hollow man, this empty vessel waiting to be filled by those who know what they want. The likely result is the demolition of our remaining decencies, -> beginning with the agreement to limit global warming .

Those who tell the stories run the world. Politics has failed through a lack of competing narratives. The key task now is to tell a new story of what it is to be a human in the 21st century. It must be as appealing to some who have voted for Trump and Ukip as it is to the supporters of Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Jeremy Corbyn.

A few of us have been working on this, and can discern what may be the beginning of a story. It's too early to say much yet, but at its core is the recognition that – as modern psychology and neuroscience make abundantly clear – human beings, by comparison with any other animals, are both remarkably social and remarkably unselfish . The atomisation and self-interested behaviour neoliberalism promotes run counter to much of what comprises human nature.

Hayek told us who we are, and he was wrong. Our first step is to reclaim our humanity.

The stories you need to read, in one handy email Sign up to The Guardian Today and get the must-read stories delivered straight to your inbox each morning Read more

Hayek softened his opposition to monopolies and hardened his opposition to trade unions. He lambasted progressive taxation and attempts by the state to raise the general welfare of citizens. He insisted that there is "an overwhelming case against a free health service for all" and dismissed the conservation of natural resources. It should come as no surprise to those who follow such matters that he was awarded the Nobel prize for economics .

By the time Thatcher slammed his book on the table, a lively network of thinktanks, lobbyists and academics promoting Hayek's doctrines had been established on both sides of the Atlantic, abundantly financed by some of the world's richest people and businesses , including DuPont, General Electric, the Coors brewing company, Charles Koch, Richard Mellon Scaife, Lawrence Fertig, the William Volker Fund and the Earhart Foundation. Using psychology and linguistics to brilliant effect, the thinkers these people sponsored found the words and arguments required to turn Hayek's anthem to the elite into a plausible political programme.

[Feb 11, 2019] How the neoliberal dream became the reality of Thatcherism by Brendan Montague

Notable quotes:
"... Thatcher quickly assembled her team. She surprised almost everyone by making Geoffrey Howe, the IEA supporter and member of the Mont Pelerin Society, her chancellor and therefore putting him in charge of the country's economy. ..."
"... She then recruited a team of young, privately-educated free market thinkers to help her meet the terrifying prospect of confronting Harold Wilson - still a "cunning and attractive parliamentary performer" - in the House of Commons. ..."
"... Impact of Market Forces on Addictive Substances and Behaviours: The web of influence of addictive industries ..."
Feb 11, 2019 | theecologist.org

Heath's intention must have been to give Joseph a chemistry set with which he would hopefully blow himself up.

An excitable Keith Joseph met with Ralph Harris of the Institute of Economic Affairs and his deputy Arthur Seldon at one of his favourite Westminster restaurants, Lockets, in February 1974.

Joseph was at the time a member of the Shadow Cabinet and the third most influential politician in the Conservative party. He had invited his close friends from the IEA to lunch so he could get their clearance to set up a rival free market think tank.

His new Centre for Policy Studies would be overtly political and use the methods of the Socialist Fabians to win the battle of ideas in favour of radical liberalism within Britain's natural party of government.

This was cloak and dagger politics. An audacious, secret, plan to challenge seize the party leadership, win the forthcoming election and install a new Cabinet dedicated to making Hayek's economic prescriptions official policy for the first time. "My aim was to convert the Tory party," Joseph would later explain.

Joseph would become known even among his closest friends as the "Mad Monk" in part because of the purity and forcefulness of his political thought. He would concede that he was "a convenient madman".

Offer Encouragement

He had relied on Harris's instruction and help in economics and social policy, devouring the stack of books, reports and articles that the IEA recommended over the previous months.

"Harris assured Joseph that he was not troubled by the fact that there would be two organisations promoting roughly the same message. In fact Harris and Seldon could not have been more helpful," records Antony Fisher biographer Gerald Frost.

The CPS was in fact "the logical next step" in the battle against the State. Antony Fisher was just as welcoming of Joseph's bold move and paid a visit "to assure him of his personal support and to offer encouragement".

Joseph was the Marcus Brutus of his time, convinced that disloyally disposing of his leader, Edward Heath, would be good for his party, his city, his empire. He was the leader of this conspiracy.

Strangely considering his part in the internal leadership coup, Lawson would describe his friend Joseph as being: "Tormented by self-doubt, devoid of guile, and with a passion to educate, he laboured under the delusion that everyone else, friend or foe, was as intellectually honest and fundamentally decent, as lacking in malice and personal ambition, as he was."

Provoking Wrath

Heath was deeply suspicious that his colleagues were secretly plotting a leadership bid but gave his approval to the new think tank only half convinced it would study Polish economic policy. "Heath's intention must have been to give Joseph a chemistry set with which he would hopefully blow himself up," said one contemporary.

Joseph recruited Margaret Thatcher as vice chairman of the CPS in May 1974. "His was a risky, exposed position, and the fear of provoking the wrath of Ted and the derision of the left-wing commentators was a powerful disincentive - but I jumped at the chance," Thatcher recalled years later.

"From Keith and Alfred I learned a great deal. I renewed my reading of the seminal works of liberal economics and conservative thought.

"I also regularly attended lunches at the Institute of Economic affairs where Ralph Harris, Arthur Seldon, Alan Walters and others - in other words all those who had been right when we in government had gone wrong - were busy marking out a new non-socialist economic and social path for Britain."

Joseph prescribed Friedrich von Hayek's The Road to Serfdom as required reading. Gerald Frost, was a member of the CPSboard and would hand books and reports to Richard Ryder, Thatcher's political secretary, for her to read over the weekend including the latest output from the IEA.

"Joseph was also responsible for ensuring that Mrs Thatcher struck up relations with the IEA directors, and through them, Hayek and Friedman," recalls Frost.

The new Conservative think tank operated on an annual budget of £150,000 from private donors - which included the largess of the tobacco companies.

Hung Parliament

The official founding meeting of the CPS was held in Room G of the House of Commons on 12 June 1974. Joseph was joined by Thatcher and Sherman and also an industrialist named Nigel Vinson.

Vinson had written an article for the IEA and shortly after was called by Fisher and taken to lunch. Vinson was invited by Fisher to join the board of trustees of the IEA.

Vinson agreed because he "admired him hugely". Thirty years later he told me: "That's the link between the IEA and the Centre for Policy Studies: that's me. I, Maggie Thatcher and Keith Joseph, we were the first three directors of the Centre for Policy Studies."

The IEA, he explained, wanted to form opinions over decades and also protect the charitable status as educational rather than party political. The CPS, on the other hand, wanted to transform British politics in the next months and years.

Joseph went on a speaking tour while Britain was in tumult. Edward Heath had taken on the mining unions and lost.

The election in February had delivered a hung parliament and when negotiations between the Conservatives and Liberals collapsed, Labour formed a minority government. Harold Wilson and his Labour party won the second general election of the year, on 10 October 1974, but only by three votes.

"The result was much less of a disaster for the Tories than it might have been," according to Geoffrey Howe, who would later become chancellor under Thatcher. "We had lost, certainly. But disaster had been averted".

It was well understood that Heath would not last long as Tory leader. After the election he put Thatcher in charge of housing, and she in turn asked Nigel Lawson to join her clique.

Weathy Stockbroker

Lawson was born in Hampstead, now one of the most desirable parts of the capital, in March 1932. His father was a successful City of London tea merchant and his mother's father was a wealthy stockbroker.

His childhood home was "complete with nanny, cook and parlourmaid". Lawson during his formative years immediately after the war developed the distinctive distrust that would make him amenable to the free market philosophy.

"It seemed to me that in every respect the socialism the Labour Government was seeking to put into practice went against the grain of human nature - not least its Utopian disregard of original sin or of what Anthony Quinton has called 'man's moral and intellectual imperfection'."

Lawson won a maths scholarship and went up to Oxford University to study philosophy, politics and economics under the tutelage of professor Roy Harrod, an ardent Keynesian.

He specialised in philosophy and was influenced by the Linguistic Analysis school which would prove a useful foundation for his elegant rhetoric during his political career.

He joined Chatham, the "somewhat decadent high Tory dining club" and played poker. After university he joined the navy and in 1955 married Vanessa Salmon, a wealthy tobacco heiress. He then joined the Financial Times as an oil correspondent.

His son Dominic, currently a climate skeptic columnist, and his celebrity daughter Nigella, were both born during this period. Lawson then moved from the newsroom to the political backroom.

Oliver Poole, chairman of the FT and of the Conservative party, recognised his shrewdness and way with words hired him as a speechwriter to Harold MacMillan, the prime minister. Lawson would edit the right-wing Spectator and then the city pages of the newly launched Sunday Telegraph when in 1970 he stood unsuccessfully as an MP for Slough.

He was finally elected to Parliament on the eve of his 42nd birthday in 1974 and in the same year had a hand in drafting the Conservative party manifesto, committed the Tories to creating an ministry for energy and then found himself in Thatcher's policy group.

"This was my first experience of working with Margaret," Lawson would note. The proximity to Thatcher meant proximity to Joseph who at that time was the free market cabal's great hope for leadership.

Lawson recalled: "Keith was the founder member of the group of Tory radicals which, under Margaret's leadership, were the government's driving force during the first two Thatcher parliaments. The only other full members of that group were Geoffrey Howe, Norman Tebbit and myself."

Delinquents and Denizens

Howe made it clear that he wanted Joseph to join the leadership. "I [told] Joseph that he would have our support if he chose to stand, and no doubt others were doing the same. Keith seemed willing to accept the challenge."

But then disaster. Joseph would during the course of one speech wreck his leadership ambitions on the rocks of public good will and tolerance. "The balance of our population, our human stock is threatened", Joseph warned at Edgbaston in October 1974.

"A high and rising proportion of children are being born to mothers least fitted to bring children into the world and bring them up."

He continued: "Many of these girls are unmarried, many are deserted or divorced or soon will be. Some are of low intelligence, most of low educational attainment. They are producing problem children, the future unmarried mothers, delinquents, denizens of our borstals, sub-normal educational establishments, prisons, hostels for drifters!"

The blame for this apparent malaise was clear. "The Socialist method would take away from the family and its members the responsibilities which give it cohesion".

Almost before he had sat down after the address there was a storm of protest across the country. Many working class families were deeply offended and Joseph was "accused of being a racist and an advocate of eugenics".

The speech would in fact do for Joseph just as the "rivers of blood" had killed the political career of his close friend and fellow IEA advocate Enoch Powell years earlier. He was no longer a serious contender for the Conservative leadership and future prime minister.

"Keith, naive rather than deliberately provocative, was genuinely surprised by the fuss," according to Howe. "Sadly, I concluded that Keith's judgment was too erratic for him to be entrusted with leadership of the party." [Howe, 1994: 89].

Hostility to Women

Shortly after the speech a humbled Joseph called at Thatcher's offices at the Houses of Parliament. "I am sorry," he told his unofficial campaign leader. "I just can't run. Ever since I made that speech, the press has been outside the house. They have been merciless. My wife can't take it and I have decided I just can't stand."

The free market advocates had to decide what to do. They were deeply unhappy at the prospect that Heath and his national consensus would grind on for ever. Thatcher's ambitions were limited to that of chancellor, especially because of the hostility to women that dominated the Conservatives at that time. Her husband, Denis, had sold the family oil business to Castrol in the 1950s for what would today be many millions.

She was therefore comfortably off enough to risk everything. "Look, Keith, if you're not going to stand," she said finally. "I will." Thatcher's victory in the election for the Tory leadership was decisive. Two days later she met with the 1922 Committee of Conservative back bench MPs. "The room was packed," Howe recalls. "Tears came to my eyes. The Conservative Party had elected its first woman leader. By her almost reckless courage she had won their support, if not yet their hearts. A new bond of loyalty had been forged."

Thatcher quickly assembled her team. She surprised almost everyone by making Geoffrey Howe, the IEA supporter and member of the Mont Pelerin Society, her chancellor and therefore putting him in charge of the country's economy.

In doing so, she looked over Keith Joseph, although he remained at her side as a policy advisor. Howe concluded: "Keith Joseph was widely, and rightly, seen as the man who had blazed the trail for Margaret's victory."

She then recruited a team of young, privately-educated free market thinkers to help her meet the terrifying prospect of confronting Harold Wilson - still a "cunning and attractive parliamentary performer" - in the House of Commons.

The Gang of Four was led by Nigel Lawson.

Adam Curtis, the BBC filmmaker, captured the significance of this moment in the transformation of British political life. "She turned to the Institute of Economic Affairs to create the policies for a future government. What Fisher and Smedley had dreamt of twenty years before had finally happened.

"Once upon a time their Think Tank had been marginalised and despised - now it was at the centre of a counter-revolution that was about to triumph."

Brendan Montague is editor of The Ecologist, founder of Request Initiative and co-author of Impact of Market Forces on Addictive Substances and Behaviours: The web of influence of addictive industries (Oxford University Press) . He tweets at @EcoMontague. This article first appeared at Desmog.uk .

[Feb 11, 2019] Neoliberalism From the Left by Stephanie L. Mudge

Feb 11, 2019 | jacobinmag.com

An interview with
Stephanie L. Mudge

ince the late 1970s political parties all over the world have embraced a politics of free markets, privatization, and financialization. While promising freedom, this political project -- typically referred to as neoliberalism -- has brought record levels of economic inequality and significant democratic retrenchment, particularly in the advanced capitalist world.

Scholars often explain this shift by pointing to the victory of the New Right -- personified by figures like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. But a new book by sociologist Stephanie Mudge tells a different story.

In Leftism Reinvented: Western Parties from Socialism to Neoliberalism , Mudge looks at left parties in advanced capitalist countries over the last century and shows how the experts aligned with those parties pushed them in the direction of spin doctors and markets. In the process, left parties' ability to represent the interests of their own working-class constituencies was eroded -- and ordinary people were shut out of the halls of power.

Political organizer and socialist activist Chase Burghgrave recently spoke with Mudge about her new book, the role of experts in democratic societies, and whether a more vibrant, egalitarian politics is possible.


CB You state at the beginning of your book that leftism actually went through two reinventions in the last century, first from socialist to Keynesian , and then from Keynesian to neoliberal . Why did you think it was important to analyze both of these reinventions within leftism? SM The short answer is that the second reinvention couldn't have happened without the first.

The longer answer is that socialism, Keynesianism (or what I call "economistic leftism"), and neoliberalism are not just political ideologies floating in the ether; they emerged out of certain institutional arrangements.

Economistic leftism was grounded in a strong, and historically novel, relationship between academic economics professions and left parties. This relationship was what made the Democratic Party "left," in a Keynesian sense, in the 1930s and 1940s. And this relationship was also key to the move from Keynesianism to neoliberalism -- after all, both systems of thought were primarily formulated inside economics professions.

Now, I hasten to add that neither economistic nor neoliberal leftism should be understood as left parties or politicians simply parroting the things economists say. But once left parties came to depend on economics, it did matter in a whole new way how economists saw things. CB You compared four political parties of the Left in your book: the British Labour Party, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP), and the US Democratic Party. Why did you think it was important to study leftism's trajectory through these four parties? And given that the Democratic Party was never a socialist party, why do you think the Democratic Party should be studied in an analysis of socialism's eventual transformation into neoliberalism? SM

I had pretty specific historical reasons for the parties I included in the book. For starters, I only wanted to deal with parties that were more or less continuous organizations for the whole twentieth century (this is a little complicated for the German SPD, which was banned in Nazi Germany, but in fact it did survive in exile during that time).

I also wanted to make sure that I included parties that have been especially influential internationally -- which varies across time periods. The German SPD was the first, and hands down the most powerful, mass party of the socialist left at its founding in 1875, so it had to be included if you wanted to understand the socialist period. The Swedish SAP then became the most successful social-democratic party in the West in the wartime and post–World War II periods and was very influential internationally for that reason. The British Labour Party, meanwhile, became very important when it came to power after World War II, and was a driver of the internationalization of "third way" politics in the 1990s.

The Democratic Party is trickier, because of its very different history. It has always been a mass party in a certain sense, but not a socialist or ideological one. I include it because, when the leading liberal or New Deal faction of the Democratic Party embraced Keynesianism around the time of the 1937 recession, it became somewhat comparable to social-democratic and labor parties. And, last but not least, in the 1990s the Democratic Party was a major exporter of "third way" politics to Europe and elsewhere. So that is why it needed to be part of the story. CB At the center of your analysis of leftism's reinventions are political parties and people you call "party experts." Why are party experts important for explaining the trajectory of Western leftism over the last century?

SM First, a definition is in order: I conceive of party experts very broadly, as the people in and around parties who make themselves valuable as strategists, speechwriters, and analysts -- that is, people who spend their time producing arguments about how things are and what parties and governments should do about it. The focus is on what people do, or the role they play, inside parties, regardless of their formal training, credentials, positions, or titles. So a party expert could be a consultant, journalist, economist, or politician, or anything else.

The reason party experts are important is that they shape what's on offer in democratic politics -- that is, what is political, or what it is possible to vote for . So, it matters a lot how party experts see things.

In the book I make the argument that party experts matter in a special way in left politics. Historically speaking, left parties play a very special role because they claim to be the best representatives of poor, disempowered, and disenfranchised groups -- that is, groups that lack time, money, connections, and other resources that facilitate full political participation. So left party experts articulate the interests of the least powerful in democratic politics. This is a very, very important responsibility. CB I was surprised reading your book to find that many of the party experts of early left parties came out of socialist associations, clubs, left newspapers, and journals. How was this background important for early party experts? SM Yes, this is sort of surprising, especially from a present-day perspective. Politics today is absolutely saturated with professionals -- consultants, strategists, think tank policy specialists, media talking heads. But it was not always thus. It's very clear that in the late 1800s and early 1900s, journalists and newspapermen were the most important party experts, especially on the Left. In the book I call these figures "party theoreticians," because they often wrote and edited for journals and newspapers that were party-supported, and so they depended on political parties to make a living.

Party theoreticians were important for a few reasons. First, if we go back far enough to recognize the tremendous importance of journalists in the production of socialist theory -- which describes many of the most important early socialist and Marxian intellectuals -- we have a very useful analytical starting point. We can trace their origins (how they became party experts) and what happened to them: why did they decline, such that we're now surprised to find such a figure at all? And, of course, we can ask whether the fact that party theoreticians were party-dependent journalists mattered for how they saw things.

They were also important because journalists changed the course of political history. It's not clear that Marxism specifically, or socialist theory more generally, could have become the basis of an enduring international discussion without them. Marx himself was academically trained, but much of his writing was done as a journalist . Some argue that the camaraderie, collaboration, cross-criticism, and political engagement that characterized life as a journalist in the mid to late 1800s directly informed the socialist and Marxian imaginary. So if we agree that socialist theory has been one of the most important lines of thinking in modern history, then we should also agree that party-dependent and party-affiliated journalists are among history's most important intellectual figures.

There is one more reason the party theoretician is important, which bears on politics today. The fact that journalists' past influence is surprising to us now shows that perceptions of "experts" or "expertise" are both historically variable and politically determined. There is a lesson in this: contemporary political parties have a special capacity to consecrate (in a sense, to make ) experts, regardless of what kind of credentials, schooling, skills, or professional positions people have. They can valorize certain types of skills, forms of knowledge, and modes of communicating; they can also, of course, exclude or marginalize.

Left parties should take this capacity more seriously. There are too many wonks, strategists, and talking heads, and too few people who don't have fancy credentials but do have firsthand knowledge of suffering in their communities, featured in today's political debates. Maybe if left parties took their capacity to make experts more seriously, they could cultivate a more inclusive and representative politics. CB How did this relationship between left political parties and the economics discipline form, and what were its effects? SM In the book I argue that a new "interdependence" between mainstream economics professions and left parties formed during the Great Depression and the wartime period. There were a few reasons this happened.

One is that everyone agreed that there were big economic problems, but economic facts were matters of dispute (remember that this period predates widely available, standardized economic statistics). So there was a great deal of political demand for people who could pinpoint, for instance, the scale and causes of unemployment.

Another cause was located in economics: economics professions (which were then much smaller, and still in the making) attracted lots of new students who were interested in problems of poverty, labor relations, income distribution, and unemployment, but those students often found that economics professors wouldn't (or couldn't) speak to those concerns. This kicked off a sort of generational rebellion, and new kinds of economists were born (there are similar things happening now, by the way).

Third, in Western Europe, left parties were becoming established enough to invest in recruiting a younger, college-educated generation of leadership. In the Democratic Party, this kind of recruitment began via FDR's campaign (in the making of the famed " Brain Trust ").

So, in sum, in the 1920s and 1930s, a new generation of technically adept economists who spoke to left political concerns were in the making, even as left parties formed closer ties with universities and economics professions.

The effects, I think, were tremendous. In a sense, interdependence made "Keynesianism" mainstream -- that is, it helped Keynesian economics become orthodoxy. Interdependence also underpinned left parties' ability to form coalitions, win elections, and govern postwar economies. Last but not least, interdependence created a sort of backdoor into influencing left politics -- through economics professions, rather than through parties.

CB The party experts that came to replace socialist party theoreticians had what you refer to as a "Keynesian ethics." What are "Keynesian ethics," and where did they come from? SM "Keynesian ethics" refer to the way left parties' dominant economic experts in the 1960s -- people I call "economist theoreticians" -- saw economists, politics, and the relationship between the two. The hallmark of the Keynesian ethic was an assumption that the economist's job was to provide strategically useful analysis and advice -- that is, advice that helped left parties hold together coalitions, deal with the demands of organized labor, facilitate negotiation, support redistributive and welfarist policies, and appeal to broader publics. In other words, "good" economic advice was also politically useful .

The sociological argument here is that the Keynesian ethic was linked to economist theoreticians' situation: they had one foot in left parties and the other in the economics profession. In other words, Keynesian ethics expressed economists' very real experience of being prominent economists and also political strategists, advisers, or government appointees. For people who had this experience, Keynesian ethics were common sense. CB Keynesian economist theoreticians were displaced within the left political parties when Keynesian economics as a discipline went into crisis in the 1970s. Why did this happen, and what kind of party expert replaced them? SM The standard answer is that "stagflation" -- increasing rates of both unemployment and inflation in the 1960s and 1970s -- killed Keynesianism, because it confirmed monetarist arguments (in particular, Milton Friedman's). So stagflation was proof that Keynesianism was a faulty science, and Keynesian economists were faulty scientists.

But the actual history is much more complicated. Economic events are real -- if gas prices are suddenly really high, that's pretty clear to everyone -- but interpreting what those events mean is a whole different thing. People do the interpretation, and people always have investments. In the book I point out that the stagflation-killed-Keynesianism narrative was produced by people with investments -- sometimes political, sometimes professional, and sometimes both.

The stagflation critique was political, not just scientific. And, among economists, those who declared Keynesian economics dead in the 1970s were academics, financial economists, international economists, and sometimes conservative or center-right-party-affiliated economists -- they were, in other words, not left-party-affiliated economist theoreticians. So the stagflation-killed-Keynesianism narrative also had a professional aspect to it -- that is, it was partly an "ivory tower" critique of economists who were too politically involved, and therefore not scientific enough. And that critique clearly won, which fundamentally changed the economics profession by killing Keynesian ethics.

So, what comes next -- to whom did left parties turn? They turned to new kinds of economists, who saw the world, and their role in politics, in a very different way. In the book I call these new kinds of economists "TFEs" (which stands for Transnational, Finance-oriented Economists). I argue that TFEs were not "neoliberals," but they had what we might call "neoliberal ethics": they saw their responsibilities in terms of expanding and sustaining markets (a term that is sometimes code for specifically financial markets), even if this worked directly against the interests of left constituencies -- and, by extension, left parties. CB Do you think the growth of neoliberalism is better explained by left parties' acceptance of neoliberalism than the political victory of the Right? SM

Yes. Right parties have never pretended to be representatives of the disempowered or advocates of policies that insulate people from market forces. The Right's embrace of free markets in the 1980s was important, but it was not surprising. And I think it's disputable that this was really a popular move, electorally speaking -- this was a period of growing political alienation and declining turnout across the board. In this context, left parties were the only political force that was capable of critically engaging with market logic. But they did the opposite of this in the 1990s.

I think this had electoral and cultural consequences. Electorally, the "losers" of "globalization" -- that is, a whole lot of people, including whole communities -- ended up with no party that spoke for them. Culturally, criticism of the neoliberal order was marginalized and hived off as a province of the "radical" left, rather than being the stuff of mainstream political discourse -- where it should have been all along. CB You write that the growth of transnationalized, finance-oriented economists (TFEs) and left party political strategists and policy wonks are actually related. Why is that?

SM

TFEs were left party advisers who took it for granted that markets were forces "out there." They specialized in how to keep markets happy and reasoned that market-driven growth was good for everyone. But all of this was built on half-truths. First: markets, especially of the financial sort, become forces "out there" if humans construct them, insulate them from public or government oversight, and prop them up when they fail. Left parties in government in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with the input of TFEs, did exactly this. Second: what's good for markets is not necessarily good for families, communities, young people, older people, wage-earners, or victims of discrimination -- among others. This is especially true if by "markets" we really mean financial markets. Recent history is proof enough on both of these points.

So what do left parties do if they no longer have a way of responding to their constituencies' economic concerns, but they still want to win elections? They turn to spin: that is, they try to build appeal by marketing rather than substance. This is a sort of functional argument in the book: TFEs represented markets instead of constituents, and created a new need for strategic expertise. But it wasn't enough, and left political coalitions disintegrated. CB What have been the electoral consequences of TFEs and strategists, of this new generation of party experts in left parties? SM

In short: disastrous. Left politics has to speak for actual people, not a fictional ideal-type "mainstream" or "median" voter. Left parties' turn to markets, spin, and strategy is a symptom of a failure of meaningful representation. Voters know the difference between marketing and substance: sooner or later people see the game for what it is, and they lose faith. I think recent history is proof enough on this, too. CB You seem to indicate in your book's conclusion that what Western left parties need are a new generation of party experts capable of giving voice to the voiceless and acting as intermediaries between parties of the Left and those they are supposed to represent. What kind of party expert do you hope replaces TFEs, political strategists, and policy wonks? SM

This is the big question, isn't it? The short answer is that left politics needs experts who make spin unnecessary. Left politics should have intuitive appeal because it speaks to people's real needs and concerns.

That said, I don't think new experts will magically cure the ills of left politics. Nor is it my place to say who the next left party experts should be. I think that party experts can be anyone -- and maybe, in the current moment, left parties should be dedicating their resources to playing the long game by radically broadening the profiles of the people we consider "experts."

But I will say this: it is absolutely essential that left parties cultivate people's ability to understand, and critically engage with, the structure and logic of contemporary financial capitalism. I think Alexis de Tocqueville once said that you have to "educate democracy." I would give this a Marxian twist: you have to educate capitalist democracy. There can be no left politics without a shared understanding of today's specific economic circumstances, which are not like the circumstances of the 1930s or the 1970s. We live in a complicated world that is dominated by finance and holders of financial wealth, and this world needs to be unmasked.

And, to be honest, I'm skeptical that the contemporary economics professions can lead the way here, because they operate "on high" -- they speak a highly specialized language that is designed to be exclusive, not inclusive; they are constrained in the kinds of questions they can ask and the techniques they can use to answer them. So, maybe I should modify my previous statement: left parties should be dedicating their resources to cultivating critical economic analysis and radically broadening the profiles of the people we consider "economists." About the Author

Stephanie L. Mudge is an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis and the author of Leftism Reinvented: Western Parties from Socialism to Neoliberalism .

[Jan 21, 2019] How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

Dec 23, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com
From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism

Part 10 – How Margaret Thatcher systematically destroyed the British industry along with the trade unions

While there were many elements out of which consent for a neoliberal turn could be constructed, the Thatcher phenomenon would surely not have arisen, let alone succeeded, if it had not been for the serious crisis of capital accumulation during the 1970s. Stagflation was hurting everyone. In 1975 inflation surged to 26 per cent and unemployment topped one million. The nationalized industries were draining resources from the Treasury.

This set up a confrontation between the state and the unions. In 1972, and then again in 1974, the British miners (a nationalized industry) went on strike for the first time since 1926.

The miners had always been in the forefront of British labour struggles. Their wages were not keeping pace with accelerating inflation, and the public sympathized. The Conservative government, in the midst of power blackouts, declared a state of emergency, mandated a three-day working week, and sought public backing against the miners. In 1974 it called an election seeking public support for its stand. It lost, and the Labour government that returned to power settled the strike on terms favourable to the miners.

The victory was, however, pyrrhic. The Labour government could not afford the terms of the settlement and its fiscal difficulties mounted. A balance of payments crisis paralleled huge budget deficits. Turning for credits to the IMF in 1975–6, it faced the choice of either submitting to IMF-mandated budgetary restraint and austerity or declaring bankruptcy and sacrificing the integrity of sterling, thus mortally wounding financial interests in the City of London. It chose the former path, and draconian budgetary cutbacks in welfare state expenditures were implemented . The Labour government went against the material interests of its traditional supporters. But it still had no solution to the crises of accumulation and stagflation. It sought, unsuccessfully, to mask the difficulties by appealing to corporatist ideals, in which everyone was supposed to sacrifice something for the benefit of the polity.

Its supporters were in open revolt, and public sector workers initiated a series of crippling strikes in the ' winter of discontent ' of 1978. ' Hospital workers went out, and medical care had to be severely rationed. Striking gravediggers refused to bury the dead. The truck drivers were on strike too. Only shop stewards had the right to let trucks bearing "essential supplies" cross picket lines. British Rail put out a terse notice "There are no trains today" . . . striking unions seemed about to bring the whole nation to a halt. '

The mainstream press was in full cry against greedy and disruptive unions, and public support fell away. The Labour government fell, and in the election that followed Margaret Thatcher won a significant majority with a clear mandate from her middle-class supporters to tame public sector trade union power .

The commonality between the US and the UK cases most obviously lies in the fields of labour relations and the fight against inflation. With respect to the latter, Thatcher made monetarism and strict budgetary control the order of the day. High interest rates meant high unemployment (averaging more than 10 per cent in 1979–84, and the Trades Union Congress lost 17 per cent of its membership in five years ). The bargaining power of labour was weakened.

Alan Budd, an economic adviser to Thatcher, later suggested that ' the 1980s policies of attacking inflation by squeezing the economy and public spending were a cover to bash the workers ' . Britain created what Marx called ' an industrial reserve army ', he went on to observe, the effect of which was to undermine the power of labour and permit capitalists to make easy profits thereafter. And in an action that paralleled Reagan's provocation of PATCO in 1981, Thatcher provoked a miners' strike in 1984 by announcing a wave of redundancies and pit closures (imported coal was cheaper).

The strike lasted for almost a year, and, in spite of a great deal of public sympathy and support, the miners lost. The back of a core element of the British labour movement had been broken. Thatcher further reduced union power by opening up the UK to foreign competition and foreign investment. Foreign competition demolished much of traditional British industry in the 1980s –– the steel industry (Sheffield) and shipbuilding (Glasgow) more or less totally disappeared within a few years, and with them a good deal of trade union power.

Thatcher effectively destroyed the indigenous nationalized UK automobile industry, with its strong unions and militant labour traditions, instead offering the UK as an offshore platform for Japanese automobile companies seeking access to Europe. These built on greenfield sites and recruited non-union workers who would submit to Japanese-style labour relations.

The overall effect was to transform the UK into a country of relatively low wages and a largely compliant labour force (relative to the rest of Europe) within ten years. By the time Thatcher left office, strike activity had fallen to one-tenth of its former levels. She had eradicated inflation, curbed union power, tamed the labour force, and built middle-class consent for her policies in the process .

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[Dec 30, 2018] Neoliberalism, the Free Market, and the Decline of Managerial Capitalism - The European Financial Review - Empowering communications globally

Notable quotes:
"... By Alexander Styhre ..."
"... Management and Neoliberalism: Connecting Policies and Practices ..."
"... Scandinavian Journal of Management. ..."
Dec 30, 2018 | www.europeanfinancialreview.com

Neoliberalism, the Free Market, and the Decline of Managerial Capitalism

April 23, 2014 • EUROPE , WORLD , Economic Thoughts , Commentary , Business & Economy , Politics & Policy , Eurozone Crisis & Debate

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By Alexander Styhre

Neoliberalism is a most troubled term, one that denotes a variety of ideologies, beliefs, policies and practices. This article outlines some of the changes concerning corporate governance, managerial control, and employee relations and points at the interrelations between the scholarly debates and theoretical contributions, macroeconomic conditions, and political agenda all being part of the century-long history of neoliberalism.

The roots of neoliberalism runs deep in Western thinking and the history of the term is more complex than is generally recognized, especially among those who associate the term with laissez-faire policies and what at times has been rejected as "market fundamentalism." Liberalism as a political and economic term is of British origin, but the neoliberal tradition of thinking derives from the continent, and from Austria and Germany in particular. 1 The Austrian School of Economics, represented by Friedrich von Hayek and Joseph Schumpeter and the so-called Ordo-liberals at Freiburg University in Germany represent two distinct branches of economic liberalism. While Hayek early on warned against an expanded role of the state as the central planner of economic activities, the German group of liberal economists was more ready to recognize the role of the state as the legitimate regulator of the economy.

Hayek was a peripheral figure in the economic profession in the interwar period, but the anti-Keynesian sentiments at London School of Economics, best represented by the economist Lionel Robbins, served to advance Hayek as an alternative to the widely endorsed Keynesian economic theory and its application in policy. In 1950, Hayek was offered a position at LSE on the basis of a private donation. A few years earlier, in 1947, Hayek had founded the Mont Pθlerin Society (MPS), a community of intellectuals including economists such as Frank Knight, Milton Friedman, and Lionel Robbins and the philosopher Karl Popper. This group was committed to advancing a liberal economic agenda and to counteracting collectivist solutions to economic problems. For more than two decades, MPS was operating out of the limelight as Keynesianism effectively enabled economic growth and handled the issue of the distribution of economic resources through the use of progressive taxation in the emerging welfare states. In both economics departments and in policy-making quarters, Keynesianism became highly influential, at times hegemonic. However, by the mid-1960s, the profit rates started to decline in American industry and during the first oil crisis in the 1970s, caused by political conflicts, industry's profit rates sharply declined as energy costs soared.

Liberalism as a political and economic term is of British origin, but the neoliberal tradition of thinking derives from the continent, and from Austria and Germany in particular

The remainder of the 1970s were characterized by the new phenomenon of stagflation , high inflation in combination with rising unemployment, and the new monetarist economic theory advocated by Milton Freidman proposed a high interest-rate policy to curb inflation and to promote economic growth. Paul Volcker, the new chairman of the Federal Reserve named by President Carter, announced a high interest rate policy that would last well into the 1980s. By the mid-1970s, the predominant Keynesianist economic policy came under attack and neoliberal intellectuals could advance their positions.

The triumph of neoliberalism in the 1980s was caused by both macroeconomic and political changes in American society. First, the combination of high overseas savings, primarily in Japan reporting significant trade surplus, an overrated dollar, and the high-interests policy of the Fed led to an inflow of capital into the American economy, creating an oversupply of capital in the 1980s. 2 In addition, Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980 on the basis of a pro-business agenda, and the Reagan Administration recruited economic advisors and co-workers from neoliberal and neoconservative think tanks that were either formed. or significantly increased their budgets, in the 1970s, as private capital owners donated money to advance free market policies. The new administration wanted to promote economic growth by implementing new regulatory policies based on the idea of the virtues of "small governments" as prescribed by Hayek's work published during the war years and thereafter. One of the key targets in this neoliberal framework were the trade unions, which were widely regarded as representing a collectivist solution that poorly fitted with the free-market policy advocated by neoliberal intellectuals. In addition, substantial tax reforms in the 1980s were justified on the basis of what was branded "trickle-down economics" by its critics, the idea that reduced taxes would create their own economic momentum as the supply of capital would "trickle down" the economic system and generate economic growth through increased demand.

By the mid-1980s, a wave of hostile takeovers strongly contributed to the decline in managerial capitalism, the economic regime characterized by large, public corporations run by professional managers representing various functional domains of expertise, and promoted a shift to "investor capitalism.

The tax-reforms reduced the federal income but the inflow of foreign capital into the American economy enabled the Reagan Administration to eat the cake and have it too: while Reagan was fond of speaking of "rolling back the state," he had larger budget deficits than any other post-World War II president, and government bonds served to finance the sharp increase in military spending in the 1980s. In fact, the issuing of government bonds closely followed the budget deficits in the Reagan era. 3


Investor capitalism

The new economic advisors, equipped with the new finance theory, advocated a liberalization of regulatory frameworks enabling new financial operations. By the mid-1980s, a wave of so-called hostile takeovers strongly contributed to the decline in managerial capitalism, the economic regime characterized by large, public corporations run by professional managers representing various functional domains of expertise, and promoted a shift to "investor capitalism," an economic regime closely bound up with the emergence of an increasingly dominant finance industry. As the American economy overflowed with capital, there were opportunities for a new class of professional finance professionals to raise capital, to buy large conglomerate firms being underrated after 1970s bear markets, and to divest them. Permissive regulators endorsed economic theories that regarded hostile takeovers as a legitimate mechanism serving to eliminate poorly managed firms with low-growth opportunities and therefore playing a key role in renewing and invigorating the economy. Such theoretically logical arguments were, however, not supported by empirical evidence as it was primarily sound and well-functioning companies that were subject to hostile takeover bids. 4

Regardless of the legitimacy of the new forms of financial engineering, strongly dependent on the ability to issue junk bonds popular among the new generation of finance industry actors such as Michael Milken, the new threat to corporate survival made CEOs and directors aware of the need to pay close attention to the market valuation of the stock. The popularity of agency theory and its insistence on the creation of shareholder value as the sole legitimate objective of the corporation further underlined the firm's orientation towards the finance market. In the new political and regulatory environment of the 1980s, the focus shifted from long-term survival and economic stability, i.e., virtues of managerial capitalism, to short-term capital accumulation and the ability to live with the turmoil of the ups and downs of the economy. Managers had traditionally been paid to secure long-term and stable growth and to cater to a variety of constituencies, while in the new economic regime, that of investor capitalism, high returns on investment and the one-sided focus of shareholder enrichment were rewarded. Managers started to "think like shareholders."

The popularity of agency theory and its insistence on the creation of shareholder value as the sole legitimate objective of the corporation further underlined the firm's orientation towards the finance market.

The inflow of capital into the U.S. economy had also created a new form of finance industry actor, the fund manager. While fund managers controlled 20% of shares of a stock-listed company in 1970, in 2005, the comparable figure was 60%. 5 In the ideal case of market-based transactions, an investor being unsatisfied with the financial performance of the firm acts through exit rather than voice (in Albert Hirschman's terms), i.e., he or she sells the stock. In the case where one single actor holds large shares of the stock, the selling of the shares would affect the market price, and therefore fund managers started to influence how CEOs and directors were recruited to the firms in which they held stocks, that is, they increasingly turned to voice rather than exit . As a consequence, CEOs and the directors with a background in finance that shared a belief in finance market efficiency and the virtue of shareholder value creation were increasingly recruited. As both fund managers and CEOs were now compensated on the basis of their ability to report a growth in the value of the stock, the interests of CEOs, directors, and owners converged as they were now all serving the same finance market. In an agency theory view, this led to a reduction of the so-called agency costs. Unfortunately, there was evidence of new forms of behavior that were not anticipated by free-market protagonists.

187890299-1

If markets were efficient, why would firms invest their so-called "free cash flow" to manipulate the price of their stock rather than investing the money in productive capital, or transfer the capital to the owners as dividends?

For instance, in the period of 1987-2007, the amount of annual repurchases of stocks by individual firms increased eighteen-fold. 6 Agency theory makes the assumption that finance markets are effectively pricing assets, that is, all publically available information is reflected in a financial asset's market price. Yet, the de-regulation of the finance markets from the 1980s to promote market efficiency coincides with a strong preference of firms to repurchase their own stock. If markets were efficient, why would then firms invest their so-called "free cash flow" to manipulate the price of their stock rather than investing the money in productive capital, or transfer the capital to the owners as dividends? The literature on stock repurchases offers a number of explanations but fails to provide a unified and comprehensive view. 7 Under all conditions, stock repurchases remain a puzzling phenomenon for free-marketeers.

In the new regime of investor capitalism, dominated by neoclassic economic theory favouring market transactions and skeptical of the role of organizations altogether (as they to some extent represent a market failure in terms of offering lower transaction costs vis-ΰ-vis comparable market transactions), managerial authority has been moved to the outside of the corporation. First of all, to repeat, the shareholder value creation policy locates the shareholders who know better than executives inside the firm where to invest the free-cash flow; if there are promising potentials within the focal firm, capital owners will buy more shares, but if there are higher expected returns elsewhere, the capital will be invested accordingly. Second, as a consequence of the suspicion that executives are at risk to act opportunistically, various forms of auditing, accreditations, and credit ratings are widely used in an attempt to move the corporate control outside of the firm. The extensive literature on auditing and the issuing of accreditations and credit ratings unfortunately reveal that it is complicated to maintain the arm's-length distance needed between the auditor and the auditee, 8 and in the case of credit-rating, the so-called "issuer pays" policy leads to a series of governance problems. 9

Third, the orientation towards finance markets and its emphasis on high returns over long–term stability -- there is ample evidence of a sharp growth of recurrent financial crises after 1980 10 -- has led to new human resources and employment practices, wherein a larger proportion of the workforce is hired on short-term contracts and receive lower pay and fewer benefits. In addition, in the U.S., and the U.K., the two epicentra of neoliberal reforms, the level of unionization has been in decline, further reducing the collective bargaining power of workers. 11 The perhaps largest explanatory factor regarding the decline in long-term stability in employment is the loss in manufacturing jobs in the U.S., and the succession of service-industry jobs offering both lower pay and lower demands for technical expertise. In addition, in the attempt to boost shareholder value, downsizing and off-shoring have been popular among finance market-oriented executives. By and large, the shift from the managerial capitalism of the Keynesian, post-World War II period to the neoliberal investor capitalism brought a new theory of the firm, novel corporate governance practices, an accentuated short-term perspective on economic value creation, and not least, a new vocabulary of how to address and speak about managerial practices and firm performance.

The triumph of free-market thinking and neoliberal policy is perhaps not so much to be treated as the ultimate evidence of the superior rationality of the market, as it is indicative of the decline of the U.S. and U.K. economies and the West more broadly speaking on the global scale.
Concluding Remarks

In hindsight, after five decades of consolidation and organization, free-market protagonists managed to move from the periphery of economic policy-making and into its very centres by the end of the 1970s. Those who were initially regarded as outsiders and eccentrics started to claim the Nobel Memorial Prizes in Economic Sciences by the mid-1970s, but this is, skeptics may say, not so much about "being right" (in terms of making adequate predictions or providing policies that regulate the economy effectively) as much as it is indicative of the ability to capitalize on strong political and economic interests being mobilized when, for example, trade unions' influence and demands for economic equality were regarded to be too far advanced by certain groups. In addition to the ability to align capital owners and intellectuals in financing academic departments and think tanks in the post-World War II period and in the crisis-ridden 1970s in particular, 12 macroeconomic conditions were beneficial for the free-market cause. At the same time, it is complicated to predict the outcome from policy-making, and there are significant influences from unforeseen events and unanticipated consequences of purposeful action in the history of neoliberalism and free market reforms. Therefore, the triumph of free-market thinking and neoliberal policy is perhaps not so much to be treated as the ultimate evidence of the superior rationality of the market as economists like Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman would assume, as it is indicative of the decline of the U.S. and U.K. economies and the West more broadly speaking on the global scale as suggested by economic statistics. 13

While finance theory professors are fond of speaking of finance markets as being "the brain of capitalist system," the events of 2008 rendered such statements subject to doubt, to say the least.

The enormous growth of financial markets and the finance industry is also a topic subject to much scholarly and media attention, and while finance theory professors are fond of speaking of finance markets as being "the brain of capitalist system," the events of 2008 rendered such statements subject to doubt, to say the least. In addition, the free-market capitalism being dreamed about by neoliberal intellectuals since the 1930s does by no means imply a diminished state but rather the government and state agencies becoming an ally of capital owners, serving to rearticulate the welfare state into a "neoliberal ownership society state." Whether that is a sustainable role of the state, or if it rewards certain groups at an intolerable level is subject to ongoing discussions.

This article draw on A. Styhre (2014) Management and Neoliberalism: Connecting Policies and Practices (New York & London: Routledge)

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About the Author

Alexander Styhre , Ph.D (Lund University) is Chair of Organization Theory and Management, School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Styhre has published widely in the field of organization studies and is the author of several research monographs and textbooks. Alexander is the Editor-in-Chief of Scandinavian Journal of Management.

[Dec 29, 2018] How neoliberalism manufactured consent to secure its unlimited power

Dec 29, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

From David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Part 11 – The Reagan/Thatcher neoliberal legacy: a bizarre form of a sinister political doctrine from which it would be difficult one to escape
But Thatcher had to fight the battle on other fronts. A noble rearguard action against neoliberal policies was mounted in many a municipality –– Sheffield, the Greater London Council (which Thatcher had to abolish in order to achieve her broader goals in the 1980s), and Liverpool (where half the local councillors had to be gaoled) formed active centres of resistance in which the ideals of a new municipal socialism (incorporating many of the new social movements in the London case) were both pursued and acted upon until they were finally crushed in the mid-1980s.
She began by savagely cutting back central government funding to the municipalities, but several of them responded simply by raising property taxes, forcing her to legislate against their right to do so. Denigrating the progressive labour councils as 'loony lefties' (a phrase the Conservative-dominated press picked up with relish), she then sought to impose neoliberal principles through a reform of municipal finance. She proposed a 'poll tax' –– a regressive head tax rather than a property tax –– which would rein in municipal expenditures by making every resident pay. This provoked a huge political fight that played a role in Thatcher's political demise .
Thatcher also set out to privatize all those sectors of the economy that were in public ownership. The sales would boost the public treasury and rid the government of burdensome future obligations towards losing enterprises. These state-run enterprises had to be adequately prepared for privatization, and this meant paring down their debt and improving their efficiency and cost structures, often through shedding labour.
Their valuation was also structured to offer considerable incentives to private capital –– a process that was likened by opponents to 'giving away the family silver'. In several cases subsidies were hidden in the mode of valuation –– water companies, railways, and even state-run enterprises in the automobile and steel industries held high-value land in prime locations that was excluded from the valuation of the enterprise as an ongoing concern.
Privatization and speculative gains on the property released went hand in hand. But the aim here was also to change the political culture by extending the field of personal and corporate responsibility and encouraging greater efficiency, individual/corporate initiative, and innovation. British Aerospace, British Telecom, British Airways, steel, electricity and gas, oil, coal, water, bus services, railways, and a host of smaller state enterprises were sold off in a massive wave of privatizations.
Britain pioneered the way in showing how to do this in a reasonably orderly and, for capital, profitable way. Thatcher was convinced that once these changes had been made they would become irreversible: hence the haste. The legitimacy of this whole movement was successfully underpinned, however, by the extensive selling off of public housing to tenants. This vastly increased the number of homeowners within a decade. It satisfied traditional ideals of individual property ownership as a working-class dream and introduced a new, and often speculative, dynamism into the housing market that was much appreciated by the middle classes, who saw their asset values rise –– at least until the property crash of the early 1990s .
Dismantling the welfare state was, however, quite another thing. Taking on areas such as education, health care, social services, the universities, the state bureaucracy, and the judiciary proved difficult. Here she had to do battle with the entrenched and sometimes traditional upper-middle-class attitudes of her core supporters .
Thatcher desperately sought to extend the ideal of personal responsibility (for example through the privatization of health care) across the board and cut back on state obligations. She failed to make rapid headway. There were, in the view of the British public, limits to the neoliberalization of everything. Not until 2003, for example, did a Labour government, against widespread opposition, succeed in introducing a fee-paying structure into British higher education .
In all these areas it proved difficult to forge an alliance of consent for radical change. On this her Cabinet (and her supporters) were notoriously divided (between 'wets' and 'drys') and it took several years of bruising confrontations within her own party and in the media to win modest neoliberal reforms. The best she could do was to try to force a culture of entrepreneurialism and impose strict rules of surveillance, financial accountability, and productivity on to institutions, such as universities, that were ill suited to them.
Thatcher forged consent through the cultivation of a middle class that relished the joys of home ownership, private property, individualism, and the liberation of entrepreneurial opportunities. With working-class solidarities waning under pressure and job structures radically changing through deindustrialization, middle-class values spread more widely to encompass many of those who had once had a firm working-class identity .
The opening of Britain to freer trade allowed a consumer culture to flourish, and the proliferation of financial institutions brought more and more of a debt culture into the centre of a formerly staid British life. Neoliberalism entailed the transformation of the older British class structure, at both ends of the spectrum.
Moreover, by keeping the City of London as a central player in global finance it increasingly turned the heartland of Britain's economy, London and the south-east, into a dynamic centre of ever-increasing wealth and power. Class power had not so much been restored to any traditional sector but rather had gathered expansively around one of the key global centres of financial operations. Recruits from Oxbridge flooded into London as bond and currency traders, rapidly amassing wealth and power and turning London into one of the most expensive cities in the world.
While the Thatcher revolution was prepared by the organization of consent within the traditional middle classes who bore her to three electoral victories, the whole programme, particularly in her first administration, was far more ideologically driven (thanks largely to Keith Joseph) by neoliberal theory than was ever the case in the US. While from a solid middle-class background herself, she plainly relished the traditionally close contacts between the prime minister's office and the 'captains' of industry and finance. She frequently turned to them for advice and in some instances clearly delivered them favours by undervaluing state assets set for privatization . The project to restore class power –– as opposed to dismantling working-class power –– probably played a more subconscious role in her political evolution.
The success of Reagan and Thatcher can be measured in various ways. But I think it most useful to stress the way in which they took what had hitherto been minority political, ideological, and intellectual positions and made them mainstream. The alliance of forces they helped consolidate and the majorities they led became a legacy that a subsequent generation of political leaders found hard to dislodge.
Perhaps the greatest testimony to their success lies in the fact that both Clinton and Blair found themselves in a situation where their room for manoeuvre was so limited that they could not help but sustain the process of restoration of class power even against their own better instincts. And once neoliberalism became that deeply entrenched in the English-speaking world it was hard to gainsay its considerable relevance to how capitalism in general was working internationally.
This is not to say, as we shall see, that neoliberalism was merely imposed elsewhere by Anglo-American influence and power. For as these two case studies amply demonstrate, the internal circumstances and subsequent nature of the neoliberal turn were quite different in Britain and the US, and by extension we should expect that internal forces as well as external influences and impositions have played a distinctive role elsewhere.
Reagan and Thatcher seized on the clues they had (from Chile and New York City) and placed themselves at the head of a class movement that was determined to restore its power. Their genius was to create a legacy and a tradition that tangled subsequent politicians in a web of constraints from which they could not easily escape . Those who followed, like Clinton and Blair, could do little more than continue the good work of neoliberalization, whether they liked it or not.

[Dec 09, 2018] Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent's Stealth Takeover of America

Not knowing about his role is a dangerous blind spot. Please real MacLean brilliant book, Democracy in Chains, a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction.
Dec 09, 2018 | www.ineteconomics.org

[Dec 05, 2018] Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship in Britain: Hoisted from the Archives

Notable quotes:
"... Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship ..."
Dec 05, 2018 | www.bradford-delong.com

Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship : "My dear Professor Hayek, Thank you for your letter of 5 February. I was very glad that you were able to attend the dinner so thoughtfully organised by Walter Salomon. It was not only a great pleasure for me, it was, as always, instructive and rewarding to hear your views on the great issues of our time...

Continue reading "Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship in Britain: Hoisted from the Archives" "

December 03, 2018 at 05:19 PM in History , Moral Responsibility , Politics , Streams: (Tuesday) Hoisted from Archives , Streams: Cycle | Permalink | Comments (1)

[Dec 05, 2018] Von Hayek, to put it bluntly, loved Pincohet's shooting people in soccer stadiums

Notable quotes:
"... James M. Buchanan's 1981 Visit to Chile: Knightian Democrat or Defender of the 'Devil's Fix'? ..."
Dec 05, 2018 | www.bradford-delong.com

Von Hayek, to put it bluntly, loved Pincohet's shooting people in soccer stadiums: the "Lykourgan Moment" in which unconstitutional and illiberal actions create the space for future stable libertarian capitalism was a recurrent fantasy of his.

Friedman saw his trips to Chile to be an opportunity to preach to the gentiles -- to primarily preach free markets and small government, but also respect for individuals, for their liberty, and for democracy. And he had no tolerance for those who said it was evil to try to make the Chilean people more prosperous because that might reinforce the dictatorship.

Buchanan... where was Buchanan on this spectrum, anyway? It's complicated:

Andrew Farrant and Vlad Tarko : James M. Buchanan's 1981 Visit to Chile: Knightian Democrat or Defender of the 'Devil's Fix'? :

"Buchanan has repeatedly argued that the 'political economist should not act as if he or she were providing advice to a benevolent despot' (Boettke Constitutional Political Economy, 25, 110–124, 2014: 112), but an increasingly influential body of scholarship argues that Buchanan provided a wealth of early 1980s policy advice to Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship in Chile (e.g., Fischer 2009; Maclean 2017). In particular, Buchanan reportedly provided an analytical defense of military rule to a predominantly Chilean audience when he visited the country in late 1981...

...This paper draws upon largely ignored archival evidence from the Buchanan House Archives and Chilean primary source material to assess whether Buchanan provided a defense of Pinochet's "capitalist fascism" (Samuelson 1983) or whether he defended democracy when he visited Chile in 1981.

Aside from the importance of this for assessing Buchanan's own legacy, his constitutional political economy arguments presented in Chile also provide an interesting and distinct perspective on the connection between democracy and growth, which remains highly relevant to current debates. Despite a general agreement about the desirability of democracy, the view that authoritarian regimes can spur "growth miracles", or might even be a necessary stage in political-economic development, still has prominent supporters (e.g. Sachs 2012)...

[Nov 27, 2018] American capitalism could afford to make concessions assiciated with The New Deal because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a neoliberal counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This policy has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The original "New Deal," which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution ..."
"... Since the 2008 crash, first under Bush and Obama, and now Trump, the ruling elites have pursued a single-minded policy of enriching the wealthy, through free credit, corporate bailouts and tax cuts, while slashing spending on social services. ..."
"... To claim as does Ocasio-Cortez that American capitalism can provide a new "New Deal," of a green or any other variety, is to pfile:///F:/Private_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/Historyromote an obvious political fiction." ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star November 26, 2018 at 4:23 pm

As the New deal unravels:

"The original "New Deal," which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution that had occurred less than two decades before.

American capitalism could afford to make such concessions because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a social counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.

Since the 2008 crash, first under Bush and Obama, and now Trump, the ruling elites have pursued a single-minded policy of enriching the wealthy, through free credit, corporate bailouts and tax cuts, while slashing spending on social services.

To claim as does Ocasio-Cortez that American capitalism can provide a new "New Deal," of a green or any other variety, is to pfile:///F:/Private_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/Historyromote an obvious political fiction."

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/11/23/cort-n23.html

[Oct 30, 2018] The Watson family held integrity, equality, and knowledge share as a formidable synthesis of company ethics. With them gone old IBM was gone...

It not Watson family gone it is New Deal Capitalism was replaced with the neoliberalism
Notable quotes:
"... Except when your employer is the one preaching associate loyalty and "we are family" your entire career. Then they decide you've been too loyal and no longer want to pay your salary and start fabricating reasons to get rid of you. ADP is guilty of these same practices and eliminating their tenured associates. Meanwhile, the millennials hired play ping pong and text all day, rather than actually working. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Zytor-LordoftheSkies , Thursday, March 22, 2018 11:55 AM

A quick search of the article doesn't find the word "buy backs" but this is a big part of the story. IBM spent over $110 BILLION on stock buy backs between 2000 and 2016. That's the number I found, but it hasn't stopped since. If anything it has escalated.

This is very common among large corporations. Rather than spend on their people, they funnel billions into stock buy backs which raises or at least maintains the stock value so execs can keep cashing in. It's really pretty disgraceful. This was only legalized in 1982, which not-so-coincidentally is not long after real wages stalled, and have stalled ever since.

Suzan Zytor-LordoftheSkies ,
Thanks for this bit of insanely true reporting. When laid off from Westinghouse after 14 years of stellar performance evaluations I was flummoxed by the execs getting million-dollar bonuses as we were told the company wasn't profitable enough to maintain its senior engineering staff. It sold off every division eventually as the execs (many of them newly hired) reaped even more bonuses.
Georgann Putintsev Suzan ,
Thank you ... very insightful of you. As an IBMer and lover of Spreadsheets / Statistics / Data Specalist ... I like reading Annual Reports. Researching these Top Execs, BOD and compare them to other Companies across-the-board and industry sectors. You'll find a Large Umbrella there.
There is a direct tie and inter-changeable pieces of these elites over the past 55 yrs. Whenever some Corp/ Political/ Government shill (wannbe) needs a payoff, they get placed into high ranking top positions for a orchestrating a predescribed dark nwo agenda. Some may come up the ranks like Ginny, but ALL belong to Council for Foreign Relations and other such high level private clubs or organizations. When IBM sells off their Mainframe Manufacturing (Poughkeepsie) to an elite Saudi, under an American Co. sounding name of course, ... and the U.S. Government ... doesn't balk ... that has me worried for our 1984 future.
Carol Van Linda Suzan ,
Sears is doing this also
Suzan Carol Van Linda ,
Details? Thanks!
vibert Zytor-LordoftheSkies ,
True in every large corporation. They use almost free money from the US Government to do it. (Taxpayer's money)
DDRLSGC vibert ,
Yeah, it is amazing how they stated that they don't need help from the government when in reality they do need government to pass laws that favor them, pack the court system where judges rule in their favor and use their private police and the public sector police to keep the workers down.
Johnny Player DDRLSGC ,
Why do you put disqus in your name? . Is that so you can see if they sell your info and you know where it originated from?
Theo Geauxvan Zytor-LordoftheSkies ,
I wonder how many billions (trillions?) have been funneled from corporate workers pockets this way? It seems all corporations are doing it these days. Large-scale transfer of wealth from the middle class to the wealthy.
Stevie Ponders Theo Geauxvan ,
It's called asset stripping. Basically corporate raiding (as in pillage) from the inside.
R. J. Smith , Thursday, March 22, 2018 9:06 AM
"Member of the IBM family" -- BS. Your employer is not your family.
Randall Smith R. J. Smith
Not anymore. With most large companies, you've never been able to say they are "family." Loyalty used to be a thing though. I worked at a company where I saw loyalty vanish over a 10 year period.
marsto R. J. Smith
Except when your employer is the one preaching associate loyalty and "we are family" your entire career. Then they decide you've been too loyal and no longer want to pay your salary and start fabricating reasons to get rid of you. ADP is guilty of these same practices and eliminating their tenured associates. Meanwhile, the millennials hired play ping pong and text all day, rather than actually working.
DDRLSGC marsto
Yeah, and how many CEOs actually work to make their companies great instead of running them into the ground, thinking about their next job move, and playing golf
Mary Malley R. J. Smith ,
I have to disagree with you. I started with IBM on their rise up in those earlier days, and we WERE valued and shown that we were valued over and over through those glorious years. It did feel like we were in a family, our families mattered to them, our well-being. They gave me a month to find a perfect babysitter when they hired me before I had to go to work!

They helped me find a house in a good school district for my children. They bought my house when I was moving to a new job/location when it didn't sell within 30 days.

They paid the difference in the interest rate of my loan for my new house from the old one. I can't even begin to list all the myriad of things that made us love IBM and the people we worked with and for, and made us feel a part of that big IBM family.

Did they change, yes, but the dedication we gave was freely given and we mutually respected each other. I was lucky to work for them for decades before that shift when they changed to be just like every other large corporation.

Georgann Putintsev Mary Malley ,
The Watson family held integrity, equality, and knowledge share as a formidable synthesis of company ethics moving a Quality based business forward in the 20th to 21st century. They also promoted an (volunteer) IBM Club to help promote employee and family activities inside/outside of work which they by-en-large paid for. This allowed employees to meet and see other employees/families as 'Real' & "Common-Interest" human beings. I participated, created, and organized events and documented how-to-do-events for other volunteers. These brought IBMers together inside or outside of their 'working' environment to have fun, to associate, to realize those innate qualities that are in all of us. I believe it allowed for better communication and cooperation in the work place.

To me it was family. Some old IBMers might remember when Music, Song, Skits were part of IBM Branch Office meetings. As President of the IBM Clubs Palo Alto branch (7 yrs.), I used our Volunteer Club Votes to spend ALL that IBM donated money, because they <administratively> gave it back to IBM if we didn't.

Without a strong IBM Club presence, it gets whittled down to 2-3 events a year. For a time WE WERE a FAMILY.

bookmama3 Georgann Putintsev , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Absolutely! Back when white shirts/black suits were a requirement. There was a country club in Poughkeepsie, softball teams, Sunday brunch, Halloween parties in the fall, Christmas parties in December where thousands of age appropriate Fisher Price toys were given out to employee's kids. Today "IBMer" is used by execs as a term of derision. Employees are overworked and under appreciated and shortsighted, overpaid executives rule the roost. The real irony is that talented, vital employees are being retired for "costing too much" while dysfunctional top level folk are rewarded with bonuses and stock when they are let go. And it's all legal. It's disgraceful.
OrangeGina R. J. Smith , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
very true, however for many of us, our co-workers of a very long time ARE family. Corporations are NOT people, but they are comprised of them.
HiJinks R. J. Smith , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
It was true at one time, but no more.
Herb Tarlick R. J. Smith , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
This one was until the mid eighties.

[Oct 15, 2018] Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dead at 65 by Jacob Kastrenakes and Rachel Becker

Oct 15, 2018 | www.theverge.com

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died today from complications with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was 65. Allen said earlier this month that he was being treated for the disease.

Allen was a childhood friend of Bill Gates, and together, the two started Microsoft in 1975. He left the company in 1983 while being treated for Hodgkin's lymphoma and remained a board member with the company through 2000. He was first treated for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2009, before seeing it go into remission.

In a statement given to ABC News , Gates said he was "heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends." He went on to commend his fellow co-founder for his life after Microsoft:

From our early days together at Lakeside School, through our partnership in the creation of Microsoft, to some of our joint philanthropic projects over the years, Paul was a true partner and dear friend. Personal computing would not have existed without him.

But Paul wasn't content with starting one company. He channelled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people's lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, "If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it." That's the king of person he was.

Paul loved life and those around him, and we all cherished him in return. He deserved much more time, but his contributions to the world of technology and philanthropy will live on for generations to come. I will miss him tremendously.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said Allen's contributions to both Microsoft and the industry were "indispensable." His full statement is quoted below:

Paul Allen's contributions to our company, our industry, and to our community are indispensable. As co-founder of Microsoft, in his own quiet and persistent way, he created magical products, experiences and institutions, and in doing so, he changed the world. I have learned so much from him -- his inquisitiveness, curiosity, and push for high standards is something that will continue to inspire me and all of us as Microsoft. Our hearts are with Paul's family and loved ones. Rest in peace.

In a memoir published in 2011, Allen says that he was responsible for naming Microsoft and creating the two-button mouse. The book also portrayed Allen as going under-credited for his work at Microsoft, and Gates as having taken more ownership of the company than he deserved. It created some drama when it arrived, but the two men ultimately appeared to remain friends, posing for a photo together two years later.

After leaving Microsoft, Allen became an investor through his company Vulcan, buying into a diverse set of companies and markets. Vulcan's current portfolio ranges from the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, to a group focused on using machine learning for climate preservation, to Stratolaunch, which is creating a spaceplane . Allen's investments and donations made him a major name in Seattle, where much of his work was focused. He recently funded a $46 million building in South Seattle that will house homeless and low-income families.

Both Apple CEO Tim Cook and Google CEO Sundar Pichai called Allen a tech "pioneer" while highlighting his philanthropic work in statements on Twitter. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Allen's work "inspired so many."

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Allen has long been the owner of the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks as well. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Allen "worked tirelessly" to "identify new ways to make the game safer and protect our players from unnecessary risk." NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Allen "helped lay the foundation for the league's growth internationally and our embrace of new technologies."

He also launched a number of philanthropic efforts, which were later combined under the name Paul G. Allen Philanthropies. His "philanthropic contributions exceed $2 billion," according to Allen's own website, and he had committed to giving away the majority of his fortune.

Allen's sister, Jody Allen, wrote a statement on his family's behalf:

My brother was a remarkable individual on every level. While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend.

Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.

Some of Allen's philanthropy has taken a scientific bent: Allen founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science in 2003, pouring $500 million into the non-profit that aims to give scientists the tools and data they need to probe how brain works. One recent project, the Allen Brain Observatory , provides an open-access "catalogue of activity in the mouse's brain," Saskia de Vries, senior scientist on the project, said in a video . That kind of data is key to piecing together how the brain processes information.

In an interview with Matthew Herper at Forbes , Allen called the brain "hideously complex" -- much more so than a computer. "As an ex-programmer I'm still just curious about how the brain functions, how that flow of information really happens," he said . After founding the brain science institute, Allen also founded the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the Allen Institute for Cell Science in 2014, as well as the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group in 2016 , which funds cutting-edge research.

Even back in 2012, when Allen spoke with Herper at Forbes , he talked about plans for his financial legacy after his death -- and he said that a large part of it would be "allocated to this kind of work for the future."

In a statement emailed to The Verge, The Allen Institute's President and CEO Allan Jones said:

Paul's vision and insight have been an inspiration to me and to many others both here at the Institute that bears his name, and in the myriad of other areas that made up the fantastic universe of his interests. He will be sorely missed. We honor his legacy today, and every day into the long future of the Allen Institute, by carrying out our mission of tackling the hard problems in bioscience and making a significant difference in our respective fields.

According to Quincy Jones, Allen was also an excellent guitar player .

[Oct 15, 2018] Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Dies of Cancer At Age 65 - Slashdot

Oct 15, 2018 | science.slashdot.org

bennet42 ( 1313459 ) , Monday October 15, 2018 @08:24PM ( #57483472 )

Re:RIP Paul! ( Score: 5 , Informative)

Man what a shock! I was lucky enough to be working at a Seattle startup that Paul bought back in the 90s ( doing VoIP SOHO phone systems ). He liked to swing by office on a regular basis as we were just a few blocks from Dicks hamburgers on Mercer St (his favorite). He was really an engineer's engineer. We'd give him a status report on how things were going and within a few minutes he was up at the white board spitballing technical solutions to ASIC or network problems. I especially remember him coming by the day he bought the Seahawks. Paul was a big physical presence ( 6'2" 250lbs in those days ), but he kept going on about how after meeting the Seahawks players, he never felt so physically small in his life. Ignore the internet trolls. Paul was a good guy. He was a humble, modest, down-to-earth guy. There was always a pick-up basketball game on his court on Thursday nights. Jam session over at his place were legendary ( I never got to play with him, but every musician that I know that played with him was impressed with his guitar playing ). He left a huge legacy in the pacific northwest. We'll miss you Paul!

Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) writes: < MJennings.USA@NOT_any_of_THISgmail.com > on Monday October 15, 2018 @06:56PM ( #57482948 ) Homepage
Bill Gates was so angry, Allen left the company. ( Score: 5 , Interesting)

The book Paul Allen wrote avoids a full report, but gives the impression that Bill Gates was so angry, Paul Allen left the company because interacting with Bill Gates was bad for his health.

Quotes from the book, Idea Man [amazon.com] by Paul Allen.

Page 49:

THREE DECADES AFTER teaching Bill and me at Lakeside, Fred Wright was asked what he'd thought about our success with Microsoft. His reply: "It was neat that they got along well enough that the company didn't explode in the first year or two."

Page 96:

When Bill pushed on licensing terms or bad-mouthed the flaky Signetics cards, Ed thought he was insubordinate. You could hear them yelling throughout the plant, and it was quite a spectacle-the burly ex-military officer standing toe to toe with the owlish prodigy about half his weight, neither giving an inch.

Page 177:

Bill was sarcastic, combative, defensive, and contemptuous.

Page 180:

"For Bill, the ground had already begun shifting. At product review meetings, his scathing critiques became a perverse badge of honor. One game was to count how many times Bill confronted a given manager; whoever got tagged for the most "stupidest things " won the contest. "I give my feedback," he grumbled to me, "and it doesn't go anywhere."

RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) , Monday October 15, 2018 @10:16PM ( #57483928 )
RIP Dr. Netvorkian ( Score: 2 )

Rest well, Mr. Allen.

He used to have the nickname "Doctor NetVorkian" because many of the things he invested in promptly tanked in one way or another after his investment. He had a lot of bad luck with his investments.

For those who don't understand the joke, a certain Dr. Kervorkian became notorious for helping ill patients commit suicide.

toadlife ( 301863 ) , Monday October 15, 2018 @06:29PM ( #57482740 ) Journal
Heyyyyy! ( Score: 5 , Funny)

Allen had nothing to do with systemd!

hey! ( 33014 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

What a ray of sunshine you are.

CohibaVancouver ( 864662 ) , Monday October 15, 2018 @06:44PM ( #57482862 )
Re:Now burning in hell ( Score: 5 , Informative)

He is now burning in hell for Microsoft and Windows

Windows, Anonymous Coward? Allen left Microsoft in 1982. Windows 1.0 launched in 1985.

("The" Windows - Windows 3.1 - Didn't launch until 1992, a decade after Allen had left.)

BitterOak ( 537666 ) , Monday October 15, 2018 @06:56PM ( #57482940 )
Re:Now burning in hell ( Score: 5 , Insightful)
Microsoft created Windows and Allen co-founded Microsoft - he cannot wipe that blood off his hands!

But you can wipe Windows off your hard drive, so I don't get your point. Paul Allen was a great guy in many, many ways.

El Cubano ( 631386 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )
But you can wipe Windows off your hard drive, so I don't get your point. Paul Allen was a great guy in many, many ways.

Agreed. Even if you could "blame" him for all or part of Windows, he did start the Museum of Pop Culture [wikipedia.org]. If you are ever in Seattle, it is a must see. I mean, they have what is probably the best Star Trek museum display anywhere (which is saying a lot since the Smithsonian has a very nice one as well), including most of the original series set pieces and I believe one of the only actual Enterprise models used for filming. In my mind, that gives him a great deal of geek cred. Plus, as I under

110010001000 ( 697113 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 2 )

Well if he donated guitars and liked Star Trek then he must have been a good guy.

110010001000 ( 697113 ) , Monday October 15, 2018 @07:20PM ( #57483078 ) Homepage Journal
Re:And Then? ( Score: 1 )

You forgot he was a big Patent Troll. He won't be missed or remembered.

110010001000 ( 697113 ) , Monday October 15, 2018 @10:28PM ( #57483964 ) Homepage Journal
Re:And Then? ( Score: 2 )

I knew someone would say that. You are right. I won't. But he won't either. He was a patent troll. Oh but: RIP and thoughts and prayers, right? He was a great guy and will be missed.

[Oct 14, 2018] Our Reliance on Cellphones Began 35 Years Ago This Week

Oct 14, 2018 | tech.slashdot.org

(qz.com) 50 While we're now on 4G networks, it was only 35 years ago this week that Ameritech (now part of AT&T) launched 1G , or the first commercial cell phone network. That network, called the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), went online on October 13, 1983, allowing people in the Chicago area to make and receive mobile calls for the first time. Ameritech president Bob Barnett, who made the first call, decided to make the historic moment count by ringing Alexander Graham Bell's grandson. A little more than a year later, UK's Vodafone hosted its first commercial call on New Year's Day. Israel's Pelephone followed suit in 1986, followed by Australia in 1987.

Cellphone technology had been around for quite a while before that. AMPS was in development for around 15 years, and engineers made the first mobile call on a prototype network a decade before the first commercial network call. It took that long to troubleshoot the various hardware, software, and radio frequency issues associated with setting up a fully functional commercial network.

[Sep 16, 2018] After the iron curtain fell, there was a big demand for Russian-trained programmers because they could program in a very efficient and light manner that didn't demand too much of the hardware, if I remember correctly

Notable quotes:
"... It's a bit of chicken-and-egg problem, though. Russia, throughout 20th century, had problem with developing small, effective hardware, so their programmers learned how to code to take maximum advantage of what they had, with their technological deficiency in one field giving rise to superiority in another. ..."
"... Russian tech ppl should always be viewed with certain amount of awe and respect...although they are hardly good on everything. ..."
"... Soviet university training in "cybernetics" as it was called in the late 1980s involved two years of programming on blackboards before the students even touched an actual computer. ..."
"... I recall flowcharting entirely on paper before committing a program to punched cards. ..."
Aug 01, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Bill Herschel 2 days ago ,

Very, very slightly off-topic.

Much has been made, including in this post, of the excellent organization of Russian forces and Russian military technology.

I have been re-investigating an open-source relational database system known as PosgreSQL (variously), and I remember finding perhaps a decade ago a very useful whole text search feature of this system which I vaguely remember was written by a Russian and, for that reason, mildly distrusted by me.

Come to find out that the principle developers and maintainers of PostgreSQL are Russian. OMG. Double OMG, because the reason I chose it in the first place is that it is the best non-proprietary RDBS out there and today is supported on Google Cloud, AWS, etc.

The US has met an equal or conceivably a superior, case closed. Trump's thoroughly odd behavior with Putin is just one but a very obvious one example of this.

Of course, Trump's nationalistic blather is creating a "base" of people who believe in the godliness of the US. They are in for a very serious disappointment.

kao_hsien_chih Bill Herschel a day ago ,

After the iron curtain fell, there was a big demand for Russian-trained programmers because they could program in a very efficient and "light" manner that didn't demand too much of the hardware, if I remember correctly.

It's a bit of chicken-and-egg problem, though. Russia, throughout 20th century, had problem with developing small, effective hardware, so their programmers learned how to code to take maximum advantage of what they had, with their technological deficiency in one field giving rise to superiority in another.

Russia has plenty of very skilled, very well-trained folks and their science and math education is, in a way, more fundamentally and soundly grounded on the foundational stuff than US (based on my personal interactions anyways).

Russian tech ppl should always be viewed with certain amount of awe and respect...although they are hardly good on everything.

TTG kao_hsien_chih a day ago ,

Well said. Soviet university training in "cybernetics" as it was called in the late 1980s involved two years of programming on blackboards before the students even touched an actual computer.

It gave the students an understanding of how computers works down to the bit flipping level. Imagine trying to fuzz code in your head.

FarNorthSolitude TTG a day ago ,

I recall flowcharting entirely on paper before committing a program to punched cards. I used to do hex and octal math in my head as part of debugging core dumps. Ah, the glory days.

Honeywell once made a military computer that was 10 bit. That stumped me for a while, as everything was 8 or 16 bit back then.

kao_hsien_chih FarNorthSolitude 10 hours ago ,

That used to be fairly common in the civilian sector (in US) too: computing time was expensive, so you had to make sure that the stuff worked flawlessly before it was committed.

No opportunity to seeing things go wrong and do things over like much of how things happen nowadays. Russians, with their hardware limitations/shortages, I imagine must have been much more thorough than US programmers were back in the old days, and you could only get there by being very thoroughly grounded n the basics.

[Sep 07, 2018] This is the Story of the 1970s Great Calculator Race

Sep 07, 2018 | science.slashdot.org

[Editor's note: all links in the story will lead you to Twitter] : In the 1970s the cost -- and size -- of calculators tumbled. Business tools became toys; as a result prestige tech companies had to rapidly diversify into other products -- or die! This is the story of the 1970s great calculator race... Compact electronic calculators had been around since the mid-1960s, although 'compact' was a relative term. They were serious, expensive tools for business . So it was quite a breakthrough in 1967 when Texas Instruments presented the Cal-Tech: a prototype battery powered 'pocket' calculator using four integrated circuits . It sparked a wave of interest. Canon was one of the first to launch a pocket calculator in 1970. The Pocketronic used Texas Instruments integrated circuits, with calculations printed on a roll of thermal paper. Sharp was also an early producer of pocket calculators. Unlike Canon they used integrated circuits from Rockwell and showed the calculation on a vacuum fluorescent display . The carrying handle was a nice touch!

The next year brought another big leap: the Hewlet-Packard HP35 . Not only did it use a microprocessor it was also the first scientific pocket calculator. Suddenly the slide rule was no longer king; the 35 buttons of the HP35 had taken its crown. The most stylish pocket calculator was undoubtedly the Olivetti Divisumma 18 , designed by Mario Bellini. Its smooth look and soft shape has become something of a tech icon and an inspiration for many designers. It even featured in Space:1999! By 1974 Hewlett Packard had created another first: the HP-65 programmable pocket calculator . Programmes were stored on magnetic cards slotted into the unit. It was even used during the Apollo-Soyuz space mission to make manual course corrections. The biggest problem for pocket calculators was the power drain: LED displays ate up batteries. As LCD displays gained popularity in the late 1970s the size of battery needed began to reduce . The 1972 Sinclair Executive had been the first pocket calculator to use small circular watch batteries , allowing the case to be very thin. Once LCD displays took off watch batteries increasingly became the norm for calculators. Solar power was the next innovation for the calculator: Teal introduced the Photon in 1977, no batteries required or supplied!

But the biggest shake-up of the emerging calculator market came in 1975, when Texas Instruments -- who made the chips for most calculator companies -- decided to produce and sell their own models. As a vertically integrated company Texas Instruments could make and sell calculators at a much lower price than its competitors . Commodore almost went out of business trying to compete: it was paying more for its TI chips than TI was selling an entire calculator for. With prices falling the pocket calculator quickly moved from business tool to gizmo : every pupil, every student, every office worker wanted one, especially when they discovered the digital fun they could have! Calculator games suddenly became a 'thing' , often combining a calculator with a deck of cards to create new games to play. Another popular pastime was finding numbers that spelt rude words if the calculator was turned upside down; the Samsung Secal even gave you a clue to one!

The calculator was quickly evolving into a lifestyle accessory . Hewlett Packard launched the first calculator watch in 1977... Casio launched the first credit card sized calculator in 1978 , and by 1980 the pocket calculator and pocket computer were starting to merge. Peak calculator probably came in 1981, with Kraftwerk's Pocket Calculator released as a cassingle in a calculator-shaped box . Although the heyday of the pocket calculator may be over they are still quite collectable. Older models in good condition with the original packaging can command high prices online. So let's hear it for the pocket calculator: the future in the palm of your hand!


Anonymous Coward , Monday September 03, 2018 @10:39PM ( #57248568 )

HP were real engineers ( Score: 3 , Informative)

I have a HP-15C purchased in 1985 and it is still running on the original batteries - 32 years!
That is phenomenal low power design for the technology and knowledge at the time.

mmogilvi ( 685746 ) writes:
Re: ( Score: 3 , Interesting)

I replaced the batteries in my 15c for the first time a couple of years ago. And just to be clear, it has three small non-rechargable button batteries, like you would find in a watch.

cyn1c77 ( 928549 ) , Monday September 03, 2018 @11:58PM ( #57248754 )
Re:HP were real engineers ( Score: 2 )
I have a HP-15C purchased in 1985 and it is still running on the original batteries - 32 years!
That is phenomenal low power design for the technology and knowledge at the time.

That's phenomenal even by today's design standards!

JBMcB ( 73720 ) , Monday September 03, 2018 @11:21PM ( #57248666 )
Olivetti Divisumma 18 ( Score: 3 )

My dad's friend was a gadget hound, and had one of these in the 80's. Not a great machine. The keys were weird and mushy. It had no electronic display. It only had a thermal printer that printed shiny dark gray numbers on shiny light gray paper. In other words, visibility was poor. It looked amazing, though, and you could spill a coke on it and the keys would still work.

Much more impressive but more utilitarian - he had a completely electro-mechanical rotary auto-dial telephone. It took small, hard plastic punch cards you'd put the number on. You'd push the card into a slot on the telephone, and it would feed the card in and out, generating pulses until it got to the number you punched out. Then it would pull the card back in and do it again for the next number until the whole number was dialed. No digital anything, just relays and motors.

fermion ( 181285 ) , Tuesday September 04, 2018 @01:53AM ( #57248998 ) Homepage Journal
chicken or the egg ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

In some ways, the electronic calculator market was created by TI and it's need to sell the new IC. There were not many applications, and one marketable application was the electronic calculator. In some ways it was like live Apple leveraging the microwave for the iPod.

Like the iPod, the TI calculators were not great, but they were very easy to use. The HP calculators were and are beatiful. But ease of use won out.

Another thing that won out was until about a decade ago all TI calculators were very limited. This made them ideal machines for tests. HP calculators could do unit analsys, and since 1990 they had algebra systems, and could even do calculus. This made them the ideal machine for technical students and professionals, but no high school would waste time teaching it because all they care about is filling out bubbles on an answer sheet.

The interesting contemporary issue that I see is that schools are still teaching calculators when really smart phones can do everything and more, especially with apps like Wolfram Alpha. Unless you are a legacy HP user, asking kids to buy a calculator just to boosts TI profits seems very wasteful to me. This is going to change as more tests move to online format, and online resources such as Desmos take over the physical clacultor, but in the meantime the taxpayer is on the hook for millions of dollars a year per large school district just for legacy technology.

Dhericean ( 158757 ) , Tuesday September 04, 2018 @05:01AM ( #57249428 )
Japan and Calculators ( Score: 3 )

An interesting NHK World documentary about Japanese calculator culture and the history of calculators in Japan. I generally watch these at speed = 1.5.

Begin Japanology (13 June 2013) - Calculators [youtube.com]

weilawei ( 897823 ) , Tuesday September 04, 2018 @05:17AM ( #57249468 ) Homepage
No TI-89 Fans Yet? ( Score: 2 )

I love my TI-89. I still use it daily. There's a lot to be said for multiple decades of practice on a calculator. Even the emulator of it on my phone, for when I don't have it handy, isn't the same.

It doesn't need to be particularly fast or do huge calculations--that's what programming something else is for. But nothing beats a good calculator for immediate results. ›

mknewman ( 557587 ) , Tuesday September 04, 2018 @09:31AM ( #57250228 )
TI started in 1972 not 1975 ( Score: 2 )

I had a Datamath in 1973, and a SR-57 programmable (100 steps, 10 memories) in 1975. Those were the days.

Ken Hall ( 40554 ) , Tuesday September 04, 2018 @09:50AM ( #57250316 )
TI Programmer ( Score: 2 )

First calculator that did octal and hex math (also binary). Got one when they came out, cost $50 in 1977. Still have it, still works, although the nicad battery died long ago. In a remarkable show of foresight, TI made the battery pack with a standard 9V battery connector, and provided a special battery door that let you replace the rechargeable battery with a normal 9V. I replaced it with a solar powered Casio that did a bunch more stuff, but the TI still works.

[Sep 01, 2018] >Trump's NAFTA Deal Simply Can't Solve America's Manufacturing Problems

Notable quotes:
"... By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and Research Associate at the Levy Institute. Cross-posted from Alternet . ..."
"... This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute . ..."
"... "Silicon Valley grew like a weed with essentially no Department of Defense investment." ..."
"... The key, I think, is the conscious policy to deliberately seed new technologies developed under military auspices into the civilian economy. The best recent example was the Moore School Lectures in July – August 1946, which can be identified as the precise point in time when the USA government, following Hamiltonian principles of nation building, acted to create an entire new industry, and an entirely new phase shift in the technological bases of the economy. ..."
"... I agree, please see this presentation titled The Secret History of Silicon Valley, which details the relationship in fair greater detail. It is not from a professional historian, but the depth of research and citations show a story that runs counter to the common myths. https://steveblank.com/secret-history/ ..."
"... The CIA money is everywhere in the silly valley. ..."
Sep 01, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on September 1, 2018 by Lambert Strether

Lambert: This is an important post, especially as it pertains to our implicit and unacknowledged industrial policy, militarization.

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and Research Associate at the Levy Institute. Cross-posted from Alternet .

President Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña Nieto, recently announced resolution of major sticking points that have held up the overall renegotiation of the NAFTA Treaty (or whatever new name Trump confers on the expected trilateral agreement). At first glance, there are some marginal improvements on the existing treaty, especially in terms of higher local content sourcing, and the theoretic redirection of more "high wage" jobs back to the U.S.

These benefits are more apparent than real. The new and improved NAFTA deal won't mean much, even if Canada ultimately signs on. The deal represents reshuffling a few deck chairs on the Titanic , which constitutes American manufacturing in the 21st century: a sector that has been decimated by policies of globalization and offshoring.

Additionally, what has remained onshore is now affected adversely to an increasing degree by the Pentagon. The experience of companies that have become largely reliant on military-based demand is that they gradually lose the ability to compete in global markets.

As early as the 1980s, this insight was presciently confirmed by the late scholar Seymour Melman . Melman was one of the first to state the perhaps not-so-obvious fact that the huge amount of Department of Defense (DoD) Research and Development (R&D) pumped into the economy has actually stifled American civilian industry innovation and competitiveness, most notably in the very manufacturing sector that Trump is seeking to revitalize with these "reformed" trade deals.

The three biggest reasons are:

1. The huge diversion of national R&D investment into grossly overpriced and mostly unjustifiable DoD R&D programs has tremendously misallocated a large proportion America's finest engineering talent toward unproductive pursuits (e.g., the tactical fighter fiascos , such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that, among myriad other deficiencies, cannot fly within 25 miles of a thunderstorm; producing legacy systems that reflect outdated Cold War defense programs to deal with a massive national power, as opposed to combatting 21st-century terrorist counterinsurgencies). Indicative of this waste, former congressional aide Mike Lofgren quotes a University of Massachusetts study , illustrating that comparable civilian expenditures "would produce anywhere from 35 percent to 138 percent more jobs than spending the same amount on DoD [projects]." The NAFTA reforms won't change any of that.

2. By extension, the wasteful, cost-is-irrelevant habits of mind inculcated into otherwise competent engineers by lavish DoD cost-plus contracting have ruined these engineers for innovation in competitive, cost-is-crucial civilian industries.

3. The ludicrously bureaucratized management systems (systems analysis, systems engineering, five-year planning and on and on through a forest of acronyms) that DoD has so heavily propagandized and forced on contractors has, in symbiosis with the Harvard Business School/Wall Street mega-corporate managerial mindset, thoroughly wrecked efficient management of most sectors of American industry.

Let's drill down to the details of the pact, notably automobiles, which have comprised a big part of NAFTA. Under the new deal, 25 percent of auto content can be produced elsewhere than North America, a reduction from 37.5 percent that could be produced outside before, because of the multinational nature of every major automobile manufacturer . Twenty-five percent is still a very large percentage of the high-end auto content, much of which is already manufactured in Europe -- especially expensive parts like engines and transmissions, especially for non-U.S. manufacturers, that won't be much affected by this deal.

Additionally, much of the non–North American auto content that can be or is being manufactured in Europe is the high end of the value-added chain . Certainly the workers producing the engines and transmissions have higher-than-$16-per-hour wage rates, which are trumpeted in the new agreement as a proof that more "good jobs for working people" are being re-established by virtue of this deal. Since when is $16 per hour a Trumpian boon for U.S. auto workers? Objectively, $16 is only 27 percent above the 2018 Federal Poverty Threshold for a family with two kids ; even worse, $16 is only 54 percent of today's actual average hourly pay ($29.60) in U.S. automobile manufacturing, according to 2018 BLS numbers .

But beyond cars, here's the real problem: Although the ostensible goal of all of Trump's trade negotiations is to revitalize American manufacturing, the truth is that U.S. manufacturing basically suffered a catastrophic setback when China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) back in 2001. Along with liberalized capital flows, the extensive resort to "offshoring" of manufacturing to China has sapped the American manufacturing capabilities, as well as engendering a skills shortage. This includes (to quote a recent Harvard Business Review study co-authored by Professors Gary Pisano and Willy Shih ):

"[the] tool and die makers, maintenance technicians, operators capable of working with highly sophisticated computer-controlled equipment, skilled welders, and even production engineers [all of whom] are in short supply.

"The reasons for such shortages are easy to understand. As manufacturing plants closed or scaled back, many people in those occupations moved on to other things or retired. Seeing fewer job prospects down the road, young people opted for other careers. And many community and vocational schools, starved of students, scaled back their technical programs."

The one ready source of demand for U.S.-manufactured goods is the military. High-tech enthusiasts like to claim that the U.S. Defense Department had a crucial role in creating Silicon Valley . The truth is far more nuanced. Silicon Valley grew like a weed with essentially no Department of Defense investment; in fact, until quite recently, most successful Silicon Valley enterprises avoided DoD contracts like the plague.

A bit of history: the transistor was invented by entirely private-funded research at Bell Labs in 1947. Next, the first integrated circuit patent was filed by Werner Jacobi, a Siemens commercial engineer in 1949 for application to hearing aids . The next advance, the idea of a silicon substrate, was patented in 1952 as a cheaper way of using transistors by Geoffrey Dummer , a reliability engineer working at a British government radar lab; for all of the talk of the defense establishment's role in developing high tech, ironically the British military showed no interest and Dummer couldn't secure the funding support to produce a working prototype. In 1958, Jack Kilby, a newbie at Texas Instruments (which had developed the first transistor radio as a commercial product in 1954) came up with the idea of multiple transistors on a germanium substrate. Almost simultaneously, in 1960, Robert Noyce at Fairchild Electronics patented a cheaper solution, a new approach to the silicon substrate, and implemented working prototypes. Both men envisioned mainly civilian applications (Kilby soon designed the first integrated circuit pocket calculator, a commercial success).

It is true that the first customers for both the Noyce and Kilby chips were the U.S. Air Force's B-70 and Minuteman I projects, which gave rise to the idea that the Pentagon played the key role in developing U.S. high-tech manufacturing, although it is worth noting that the electronics on both projects proved to be failures. Both companies soon developed major commercial applications for their integrated circuit innovations, Texas Instruments with considerably more success than Fairchild.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (aka "DARPA") is generally credited with inventing the internet. That's overblown. In fact, civilian computer science labs in the U.S., UK and France developed the idea of wide area networks in the 1950s. In the early '60s, DARPA started funding ARPANET design concepts to connect DoD laboratories and research facilities, initially without the idea of packet switching. Donald Davies at the UK's National Physics Lab first demonstrated practical packet switching in 1967 and had a full inter-lab network going by 1969. The first two nodes of the ARPANET were demonstrated in 1969 using a primitive centralized architecture and the Davies packet switching approach. In 1973, DARPA's Cerf and Kahn borrowed the idea of decentralized nodes from the French CYCLADES networking system, but this wasn't fully implemented as the TCP/IP protocol on the ARPANET until 1983. In 1985, the civilian National Science Foundation started funding the NSFNET, based on the ARPANET's TCP/IP protocol, for a much larger network of universities, supercomputer labs and research facilities. NSFNET started operations with a much larger backbone than ARPANET in 1986 (ARPANET itself was decommissioned in 1990) and started accepting limited commercial service providers in 1988, and, with further expansion and much-needed protocol upgrades, NSFNET morphed into the internet in 1995, at which time the NSFNET backbone was decommissioned.

Today, of course, the DoD is showering the largest Silicon Valley companies with multi-billions and begging them to help U.S. military out of the hopeless mess it has made of its metastasizing computer, communications and software systems. Needless to say, if this DoD money becomes a significant portion of the income stream of Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc., it is safe to predict their decay and destruction at the hands of new innovators unencumbered by DoD funding, much as occurred with aviation companies such as Lockheed. NAFTA's reforms won't change that reality.

As a result of the militarization of what's left of U.S. manufacturing, along with the enlargement of the trans-Pacific supply chains with China (brought about through decades of offshoring), a mere tweak of the "new NAFTA" is unlikely to achieve Trump's objective of revitalizing America's industrial commons. With China's entry into the WTO, it is possible that the U.S. manufacturing has hit a "point of no return," which mitigates the utility of regional trade deals, as a means of reorienting the multinational production networks in a way that produces high-quality, high-paying jobs for American workers.

Offshoring and the increasing militarization of the American economy, then, have rendered reforms of the kind introduced by NAFTA almost moot. When it becomes more profitable to move factories overseas, or when it becomes more profitable, more quickly, to focus on finance instead of manufacturing, then your average red-blooded capitalist is going to happily engage in the deconstruction of the manufacturing sector (most, if not all, outsourced factories are profitable, just not as profitable as they might be in China or, for that matter, Mexico). The spoils in a market go to the fastest and strongest, and profits from finance, measured in nanoseconds, are gained more quickly than profits from factories, whose time frame is measured in years. Add to that the desire to weaken unions and the championing of an overvalued dollar by the financial industry, and you have a perfect storm of national decline and growing economic inequality.

Seen in this broader context, the new NAFTA-that's-not-called-NAFTA is a nothing-burger. The much-trumpeted reforms give crumbs to U.S. labor, in contrast to the clear-cut bonanza granted to corporate America under the GOP's new tax "reform" legislation. Hardly a great source of celebration as we approach the Labor Day weekend. In fact, by the time the big bucks corporate lawyer-lobbyists for other mega corporations have slipped in their little wording refinements exempting hundreds of billions of special interest dollars, the new NAFTA-that's-not-called-NAFTA will most likely include an equal screwing for textile, steel, energy sector, chemical, and other U.S. industry workers, and anything else that is left of the civilian economy.

This article was produced by the Independent Media Institute .


Mark Pontin , September 1, 2018 at 3:08 am

From Auerback's article: "Silicon Valley grew like a weed with essentially no Department of Defense investment."

Absolutely false.

In 1960, 100 percent of all microprocessor chips produced by Silicon Valley -- therefore, IIRC, at that time 100 percent of all microprocessor chips produced in the world -- were bought by the U.S. Department of Defense. This was primarily driven by their use in the guidance systems of the gen-1 ICBMs then being developed under USAF General Bernard Schriever (which also supplied the rockets used for NASA's Redstone and Mercury programs), and by their use in NORAD and descendant early-warning radar networks.

As late as 1967, 75 percent of all microprocessor chips from Silicon Valley were still bought by the Pentagon.

By then, Japanese companies like Matsushita, Sharp, etc. had licensed the technology so Silicon Valley was no longer producing all the world's chip output. But still .

That aside, I think Auerback makes some very good points.

Anthony K Wikrent , September 1, 2018 at 8:09 am

While I think Auerback's Melman's point that the best engineering talent was diverted by military spending, it does not mean that military spending had an entirely negative effect on the ability to compete in other markets. What no one addresses is: Why did USA computer and electronics industries become so successful, while those of Britain did not?

The key, I think, is the conscious policy to deliberately seed new technologies developed under military auspices into the civilian economy. The best recent example was the Moore School Lectures in July – August 1946, which can be identified as the precise point in time when the USA government, following Hamiltonian principles of nation building, acted to create an entire new industry, and an entirely new phase shift in the technological bases of the economy.

This followed historical examples such as the spread of modern metal working machine tools out of the national armories after the War of 1812; the role of the Army in surveying, planning, and constructing railroads in the first half of the 19th century; the role of the Navy in establishing scientific principles of steam engine design during and after the Civil War; and the role of the Navy in creating the profession of mechanical engineering after the Civil War.

The left, unfortunately, in its inexplicable hatred of Alexander Hamilton (such as the left's false argument that Hamilton wanted to create a political economy in which the rich stayed rich and in control -- easily disproven by comparing the descendants of USA wealthy elites of the early 1800s with the descendants of British wealthy elites of the early 1800s) cannot understand Hamiltonian principles of nation building because the left does not want to understand the difference between wealth and the creation of wealth. The left sees Hamilton's focus on creating new wealth (and, be it noted, Hamilton was explicit in arguing that wealth is created by improving the productive powers of labor) and misunderstands it as coddling of wealth.

Scott , September 1, 2018 at 8:40 am

I agree, please see this presentation titled The Secret History of Silicon Valley, which details the relationship in fair greater detail. It is not from a professional historian, but the depth of research and citations show a story that runs counter to the common myths. https://steveblank.com/secret-history/

Marshall Auerback , September 1, 2018 at 9:04 am

But there had already been substantial private investment EARLIER than 1960. The DoD investment came later and initially was unsuccessful. I do later acknowledge that the Pentagon played A role, but not THE role, and that by and large the military's role has been unhelpful to American manufacturing (as opposed to the common myths to the contrary). Multiple events, multiple players, and multiple points of origin need to be mentioned in any sensible understanding of the emergence of Silicon Valley, starting with Bell Laboratories in 1947.

Carolinian , September 1, 2018 at 9:19 am

Thank you for this bit of pushback against anti-SV paranoia. And the above comment is only referring to one aspect of Silicon Valley whereas the industry as we now think about it is as much about personal computing and software as about hardware.

That doesn't make them good guys necessarily but the notion that the USG is running the whole show is surely wrong.

4corners , September 1, 2018 at 3:23 am

With China's entry into the WTO, it is possible that the U.S. manufacturing has hit a "point of no return," which mitigates the utility of regional trade deals.

So, what then does Mr Auerback propose? Give up on trade deals all together? Leave in place the unbalanced tariff structures that Trump claims to be addressing?

Re: autos, 25% imported content (by weight or what?!) seems like a significant move from 37.5%. But the author just dismisses that with a vague suggestion that the higher value-added products might constitute the 25%, and that it probably doesn't matter anyway.

The other half of the double feature – about inefficiency from DOD investments -- is interesting, but what is the main criticism about DoD? Is it that contracting with the private sector is inherently inefficient or should it be more about how those programs have been managed? For example, the F-35 seems ill-conceived and poorly managed but does that suggest DoD-private sector projects are inherently counterproductive?

anon48 , September 1, 2018 at 12:24 pm

"So, what then does Mr Auerback propose? Give up on trade deals all together?"

That was my takeaway too Mr Auerback should we wait until you drop the other shoe?

Mark Pontin , September 1, 2018 at 3:30 am

I guess I should cite a source. An interesting one is Donald Mackenzie's Inventing Accuracy: A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance MIT Press, 1992-93.

MacKenzie -- a professor of sociology at the University of Edinburgh, specializing in science and technology studies -- is also a good deep dive on financial engineering, the algorithms and the actual hardware of HFT, etc. A book of his from 2008, An Engine, Not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape Markets is absolutely worth reading.

The Rev Kev , September 1, 2018 at 3:42 am

Even working in the private sector can let engineers get into bad habits. Electronic engineers were used to just selecting whatever material they needed to finish an engineering design in at least one major corporation. That is, until the EU but a strict ban on the import of electronic equipment that contained certain metals and chemicals due to the fact that they were such bad pollutants. But the EU is far too big a market to ignore so it looked like adjustments had to be made.

A talk was given by a consultant of how the new rules would work in practice. Straight away the engineers asked if a deferral was possible. No. Was it possible to get a waiver for the use of those materials. No. The consultant stated that these were the rules and then went on to point out that he was now on his way to China to give the same identical talk to Chinese engineers. He also said that these rules would probably become de facto world standards. Wish that I had saved that article.

DF , September 1, 2018 at 10:35 am

Was this RoHS?

The Rev Kev , September 1, 2018 at 10:39 am

Don't know, but I only saw the original article talking about this about a year or two ago.

John Wright , September 1, 2018 at 11:54 am

This appears to be the original ROHS (Removal Of Hazardous Substances) EU directive.

This involved a lot of different chemicals, but of interest to me was the replacement of tin-lead solder in electronic equipment.

In the early 2000's my job involved migrating a number of shipping tin-lead (sn-pb) printed circuit assemblies to pb free designs to meet ROHS standards.

A lot of changes were necessary as the new pb-free (tin-silver-copper) solder melted at around 223c while the previous tin-lead solder melted at 183c.

Components had to all take the higher temperature and this caused a slew of problems. Usually the bare board had to be changed to a different material that could take the higher temp.

The EU ended up being somewhat flexible in the ROHS implementation, as I know that they allowed a number of exemptions for some high pb content (>= 85% pb) solder where there was no good substitute. (example, high temperature solders for devices that run hot such as transducers and loudspeakers and internal power IC connections)

see: http://rohs.exemptions.oeko.info/fileadmin/user_upload/Stakeholder_comments/Exemption-7a_5_Pecht_Uni_Maryland_25_March_2008.pdf

As I remember, medical equipment and US military equipment were not required to adhere to ROHS.

It was not a simple task to meet the new ROHS standards, so I can understand that some engineers wanted a deferral.

But it provided employment for me.

David , September 1, 2018 at 1:10 pm

When a system is designed to last 20+ years with high reliability and availability requirements, techniques and methods that are used to design and build this years I-phone aren't always applicable.

The lead in the solder helps prevent the growth of "tin whiskers", which can cause electronic systems to fail over time. One usually gets a RoHS waiver for the part(s) for longer life systems.

But what happens in five or ten years when the part(s) need to be replaced? Will one be able to find that leaded-part? Try and buy a new 5 year old I-phone.

Will that part be a genuinely new part or one that was salvaged, and possibly damaged, from another piece of equipment? How would one know if the part is damaged? It looks okay. It functions in the lab, but will it function, as expected, in the real world? For how long?

What's the risk of putting a similar but different part in the system? Could people be harmed if the part fails or doesn't function as expected?

This is systems engineering. Some wave it off as a "ludicrously bureaucratized management systems", but it is important. They may prefer the commercial approach of letting the public find faults in designs, but that's how people get run over by autonomous vehicles.

Unfortunately, systems engineering doesn't directly contribute to the quarterly bottom line, so it is usually underfunded or neglected. It only becomes important when, after all the designers have moved on, the system can't be used because it can't be repaired or something dangerous happens because the system was maintained with parts that were "good enough", but weren't.

What this has to do with NAFTA, I don't know.

AbateMagicThinking But Not Money , September 1, 2018 at 5:22 am

Perhaps covert regime change may be the only way (instead of tariffs):

The medicine required will probably involve hard-faced interviews with all the top CEO's (involving rubber gloves at the private airports as they come from their jaunts abroad). Who better than special ops for carrying our such persuasion. It will have to be done on the QT under stricter than usual national security secrecy so that the 'persuaded' won't lose face.

Look out for an appropriate and revolutionary "refocusing initiative" announced by all the top people in the private sector as an indication that the threat of the the rubber glove has worked.

Pip-Pip!

Disturbed Voter , September 1, 2018 at 5:41 am

Utopians will make any society into a no-place. You can't run a society solely on consumerism, it has to also run on MIC expenditures, because of excess productive capacity, as was shown in WW II and the Cold War. The other trend is we don't want to pay anyone with a college degree, more than the minimum wage. Per management, engineers make too much salary.

jo6pac , September 1, 2018 at 8:30 am

The CIA money is everywhere in the silly valley.

https://www.businessinsider.com/25-cutting-edge-companies-funded-by-the-central-intelligence-agency-2012-8#oculis-labs-tackles-the-hacking-liability-that-really-matters-16

The article is a good read.

Felix_47 , September 1, 2018 at 8:48 am

I work in this area with the government. This is exactly what I see. It is a deep seated cancer on our nation. What can be done to change this. I always thought cut the military budget but then the only jobs American can get (if vets with security clearances) would vanish? Does anyone have any solutions?

ambrit , September 1, 2018 at 10:24 am

Declare the Infrastructure Renovation Program to be "In the Interests of National Security," cut the Military Industrial Complex on for a piece of the action, and start hiring. After all, General Dynamics got some serious contracts to run the call centres for Obamacare. The template is there.

Jeff , September 1, 2018 at 10:48 am

That's disgusting. Giving call center contracts to defense firms And likely for a much bigger mark-up than might have been given to call center management companies.

Newton Finn , September 1, 2018 at 10:43 am

As Edward Bellamy envisioned in the late 19th Century, one possible "solution" would be to transition the military model into serving benevolent civilian uses. Imagine if our now-monstrous MIC was tasked not with protecting elite wealth and destroying other nations, but rather with repairing environmental damage and restoring environmental health, along with addressing other essential needs of people and planet. Change the purpose pursued, and a great evil can become a great good.

Wukchumni , September 1, 2018 at 10:55 am

We largely did that in the early 1970's, as angst against the Vietnam War was at a fever pitch and the ecological movement was ascendant.

It took awhile for the effects to be felt, but smog in L.A. went from horrendous to manageable within a decade of auto emissions being regulated. Lakes & waterways across the land were cleaned up as well, to the benefit of everybody.

Bellamy was quite the visionary, so much of what he described in Looking Backward, actually happened.

blennylips , September 1, 2018 at 1:38 pm

> now- monstrous MIC

Second Hanford radioactive tunnel collapse expected. And it could be more severe

By Annette Cary
August 28, 2018 07:14 PM
https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article217470425.html

John Zelnicker , September 1, 2018 at 9:37 am

Lambert – Did you intend to post only about a third of Auerbach's article? That's all I see.

MichaeLeroy , September 1, 2018 at 9:48 am

One of my gigs was working as a scientist/engineer for a fledgling Minnesota based medical device company. The company's R&D team originally consisted of experienced medical device development professionals and we made progress on the product. Management secured a round of funding from Silicon Valley investors. One of the strings attached to that investment was that Silicon Valley expertise be brought in to the R&D efforts. There was a huge culture clash between the Minnesota and the California teams, as the Silicon Valley engineers tried to apply their military systems perspective to development of a device meant for use in humans. From our perspective, the solutions proposed by the weapons guys were dangerous and impractical. However management considered the Silicon Valley expertise golden and consistently ruled in their favor. This was the early 2000s, so none of the Minnesota R&D team had difficulty moving on to other projects, which is what we did. The result of the Silicon Valley turn was a several-fold increase in cash burn, loss of medical device engineering knowledge and ultimately no product.

DF , September 1, 2018 at 10:33 am

Another view is that defense procurement is one of the few things that's keeping a lot of US manufacturing and technical expertise alive at all. I went to one of the only electronic parts stores (i.e., a place that sells stuff like IC's capacitors, resistors, etc.) in Albuquerque, NM a few months ago. The person at the cash register told me that nearly all of their business comes from Sandia National Laboratories, which is the big nuclear weapons laboratory in ABQ.

John Wright , September 1, 2018 at 12:09 pm

I suspect there is a lot more USA technical expertise out there than indicated by the small quantity of retail electronics parts stores surviving. On-line companies such as Digi-key and Mouser have very large and diverse component selections and quick delivery to retail customers.

Go to https://www.digikey.com/products/en

The blank search shows 8,380,317 items.

John , September 1, 2018 at 10:40 am

The Aug 21, 2015 NC has a piece "How Complex Systems Fail" that seems appropriate to this. Death is an unavoidable part of the great cycle. Get used to it.

Mel , September 1, 2018 at 11:31 am

How Complex Systems Fail PDF here .

[Mar 27, 2018] The Quest To Find the Longest-Serving Programmer

Notable quotes:
"... the National Museum of Computing ..."
Mar 27, 2018 | developers.slashdot.org

(tnmoc.org) the National Museum of Computing published a blog post in which it tried to find the person who has been programming the longest . At the time, it declared Bill Williams, a 70-year old to be one of the world's most durable programmers, who claimed to have started coding for a living in 1969 and was still doing so at the time of publication. The post has been updated several times over the years, and over the weekend, the TNMC updated it once again. The newest contender is Terry Froggatt of Hampshire, who writes: I can beat claim of your 71-year-old by a couple of years, (although I can't compete with the likes of David Hartley). I wrote my first program for the Elliott 903 in September 1966. Now at the age of 73 I am still writing programs for the Elliott 903! I've just written a 903 program to calculate the Fibonacci numbers. And I've written quite a lot of programs in the years in between, some for the 903 but also a good many in Ada.

[Dec 16, 2017] Brexit, Trump, and the Dangers of Global 'Jihad' HuffPost by Ben Railton

For 1995 the book Jihad vs. McWorld was really groundbreaking.
Also the concept of "Neoliberal jihad is valid, but it is better to call it Neoliberal World revolution as it was borrowed from Trotskyism
Notable quotes:
"... Jihad vs. McWorld ..."
"... In the two decades since Barber's book, this conflict has seemed to play out along overtly cultural lines: with Islamic extremism representing jihad, in opposition to Western neoliberalism representing McWorld. ..."
"... Linking Brexit and Trump to global right-wing tribal nationalisms doesn't mean conflating them all, of course. ..."
"... Yet at the same time, we can't understand our 21st century world without a recognition of this widespread phenomenon of global, tribal nationalism. ..."
Dec 11, 2017 | www.huffingtonpost.com

In his ground-breaking 1995 book Jihad vs. McWorld , political scientist Benjamin Barber posits that the global conflicts of the early 21st century would be driven by two opposing but equally undemocratic forces: neoliberal corporate globalization (which he dubbed "McWorld") and reactionary tribal nationalisms (which he dubbed "Jihad"). Although distinct in many ways, both of these forces, Barber persuasively argues, succeed by denying the possibilities for democratic consensus and action, and so both must be opposed by civic engagement and activism on a broad scale.

In the two decades since Barber's book, this conflict has seemed to play out along overtly cultural lines: with Islamic extremism representing jihad, in opposition to Western neoliberalism representing McWorld. Case in pitch-perfect point: the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Yet despite his use of the Arabic word Jihad, Barber is clear that reactionary tribalism is a worldwide phenomenon -- and in 2016 we're seeing particularly striking examples of that tribalism in Western nations such as Great Britain and the United States.

Britain's vote this week in favor of leaving the European Union was driven entirely by such reactionary tribal nationalism. The far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and its leader Nigel Farage led the charge in favor of Leave , as exemplified by a recent UKIP poster featuring a photo of Syrian refugees with the caption " Breaking point: the EU has failed us ." Farage and his allies like to point to demographic statistics about how much the UK has changed in the last few decades , and more exactly how the nation's white majority has been somewhat shifted over that time by the arrival of sizeable African and Asian immigrant communities.

It's impossible not to link the UKIP's emphases on such issues of immigration and demography to the presidential campaign of the one prominent U.S. politician who is cheering for the Brexit vote : presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. From his campaign-launching speech about Mexican immigrant "criminals and rapists" to his proposal to ban Muslim immigration and his "Make American Great Again" slogan, Trump has relied on reactionary tribal nationalism at every stage of his campaign, and has received the enthusiastic endorsement of white supremacist and far-right organizations as a result. For such American tribal nationalists, the 1965 Immigration Act is the chief bogeyman, the origin point of continuing demographic shifts that have placed white America in a precarious position.

The only problem with that narrative is that it's entirely inaccurate. What the 1965 Act did was reverse a recent, exclusionary trend in American immigration law and policy, returning the nation to the more inclusive and welcoming stance it had taken throughout the rest of its history. Moreover, while the numbers of Americans from Latin American, Asian, and Muslim cultures have increased in recent decades, all of those communities have been part of o ur national community from its origin points . Which is to say, this right-wing tribal nationalism isn't just opposed to fundamental realities of 21st century American identity -- it also depends on historical and national narratives that are as mythic as they are exclusionary.

Linking Brexit and Trump to global right-wing tribal nationalisms doesn't mean conflating them all, of course. Although Trump rallies have featured troubling instances of violence, and although the murderer of British politican Jo Cox was an avowed white supremacist and Leave supporter, the right-wing Islamic extremism of groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram rely far more consistently and centrally on violence and terrorism in support of their worldview and goals. Such specific contexts and nuances are important and shouldn't be elided.

Yet at the same time, we can't understand our 21st century world without a recognition of this widespread phenomenon of global, tribal nationalism. From ISIS to UKIP, Trump to France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, such reactionary forces have become and remain dominant players across the world, influencing local and international politics, economics, and culture. Benjamin Barber called this trend two decades ago, and we would do well to read and remember his analyses -- as well as his call for civic engagement and activism to resist these forces and fight for democracy.

Ben Railton Professor & public scholar of American Studies, Follow Ben Railton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AmericanStudier

[Dec 15, 2017] Rise and Decline of the Welfare State, by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Petras did not mention that it was Carter who started neoliberalization of the USA. The subsequent election of Reagan signified the victory of neoliberalism in this country or "quite coup". The death of New Deal from this point was just a matter of time. Labor relations drastically changes and war on union and atomization of workforce are a norm.
Welfare state still exists but only for corporation and MIC. Otherwise the New Deal society is almost completely dismanted.
It is true that "The ' New Deal' was, at best, a de facto ' historical compromise' between the capitalist class and the labor unions, mediated by the Democratic Party elite. It was a temporary pact in which the unions secured legal recognition while the capitalists retained their executive prerogatives." But the key factor in this compromise was the existence of the USSR as a threat to the power of capitalists in the USA. when the USSR disappeared cannibalistic instincts of the US elite prevailed over caution.
Notable quotes:
"... The earlier welfare 'reforms' and the current anti-welfare legislation and austerity practices have been accompanied by a series of endless imperial wars, especially in the Middle East. ..."
"... In the 1940's through the 1960's, world and regional wars (Korea and Indo-China) were combined with significant welfare program – a form of ' social imperialism' , which 'buy off' the working class while expanding the empire. However, recent decades are characterized by multiple regional wars and the reduction or elimination of welfare programs – and a massive growth in poverty, domestic insecurity and poor health. ..."
"... modern welfare state' ..."
"... Labor unions were organized as working class strikes and progressive legislation facilitated trade union organization, elections, collective bargaining rights and a steady increase in union membership. Improved work conditions, rising wages, pension plans and benefits, employer or union-provided health care and protective legislation improved the standard of living for the working class and provided for 2 generations of upward mobility. ..."
"... Social Security legislation was approved along with workers' compensation and the forty-hour workweek. Jobs were created through federal programs (WPA, CCC, etc.). Protectionist legislation facilitated the growth of domestic markets for US manufacturers. Workplace shop steward councils organized 'on the spot' job action to protect safe working conditions. ..."
"... World War II led to full employment and increases in union membership, as well as legislation restricting workers' collective bargaining rights and enforcing wage freezes. Hundreds of thousands of Americans found jobs in the war economy but a huge number were also killed or wounded in the war. ..."
"... So-called ' right to work' ..."
"... Trade union officials signed pacts with capital: higher pay for the workers and greater control of the workplace for the bosses. Trade union officials joined management in repressing rank and file movements seeking to control technological changes by reducing hours (" thirty hours work for forty hours pay ..."
"... Trade union activists, community organizers for rent control and other grassroots movements lost both the capacity and the will to advance toward large-scale structural changes of US capitalism. Living standards improved for a few decades but the capitalist class consolidated strategic control over labor relations. While unionized workers' incomes, increased, inequalities, especially in the non-union sectors began to grow. With the end of the GI bill, veterans' access to high-quality subsidized education declined ..."
"... With the election of President Carter, social welfare in the US began its long decline. The next series of regional wars were accompanied by even greater attacks on welfare via the " Volker Plan " – freezing workers' wages as a means to combat inflation. ..."
"... Guns without butter' became the legislative policy of the Carter and Reagan Administrations. The welfare programs were based on politically fragile foundations. ..."
"... The anti-labor offensive from the ' Oval Office' intensified under President Reagan with his direct intervention firing tens of thousands of striking air controllers and arresting union leaders. Under Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Clinton cost of living adjustments failed to keep up with prices of vital goods and services. Health care inflation was astronomical. Financial deregulation led to the subordination of American industry to finance and the Wall Street banks. De-industrialization, capital flight and massive tax evasion reduced labor's share of national income. ..."
"... The capitalist class followed a trajectory of decline, recovery and ascendance. Moreover, during the earlier world depression, at the height of labor mobilization and organization, the capitalist class never faced any significant political threat over its control of the commanding heights of the economy ..."
"... Hand in bloody glove' with the US Empire, the American trade unions planted the seeds of their own destruction at home. The local capitalists in newly emerging independent nations established industries and supply chains in cooperation with US manufacturers. Attracted to these sources of low-wage, violently repressed workers, US capitalists subsequently relocated their factories overseas and turned their backs on labor at home. ..."
"... President 'Bill' Clinton ravaged Russia, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia and liberated Wall Street. His regime gave birth to the prototype billionaire swindlers: Michael Milken and Bernard 'Bernie' Madoff. ..."
"... Clinton converted welfare into cheap labor 'workfare', exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable and condemning the next generations to grinding poverty. Under Clinton the prison population of mostly African Americans expanded and the breakup of families ravaged the urban communities. ..."
"... President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street, and another trillion to the Pentagon to pursue the Democrats version of foreign policy: from Bush's two overseas wars to Obama's seven. ..."
"... Obama was elected to two terms. His liberal Democratic Party supporters swooned over his peace and justice rhetoric while swallowing his militarist escalation into seven overseas wars as well as the foreclosure of two million American householders. Obama completely failed to honor his campaign promise to reduce wage inequality between black and white wage earners while he continued to moralize to black families about ' values' . ..."
"... Obama's war against Libya led to the killing and displacement of millions of black Libyans and workers from Sub-Saharan Africa. The smiling Nobel Peace Prize President created more desperate refugees than any previous US head of state – including millions of Africans flooding Europe. ..."
"... Forty-years of anti welfare legislation and pro-business regimes paved the golden road for the election of Donald Trump ..."
"... Trump and the Republicans are focusing on the tattered remnants of the social welfare system: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. The remains of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society -- are on the chopping block. ..."
"... The moribund (but well-paid) labor leadership has been notable by its absence in the ensuing collapse of the social welfare state. The liberal left Democrats embraced the platitudinous Obama/Clinton team as the 'Great Society's' gravediggers, while wailing at Trump's allies for shoving the corpse of welfare state into its grave. ..."
"... Over the past forty years the working class and the rump of what was once referred to as the ' labor movement' has contributed to the dismantling of the social welfare state, voting for ' strike-breaker' Reagan, ' workfare' Clinton, ' Wall Street crash' Bush, ' Wall Street savior' Obama and ' Trickle-down' Trump. ..."
"... Gone are the days when social welfare and profitable wars raised US living standards and transformed American trade unions into an appendage of the Democratic Party and a handmaiden of Empire. The Democratic Party rescued capitalism from its collapse in the Great Depression, incorporated labor into the war economy and the post- colonial global empire, and resurrected Wall Street from the 'Great Financial Meltdown' of the 21 st century. ..."
"... The war economy no longer fuels social welfare. The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations. Profits rise while wages fall. Low paying compulsive labor (workfare) lopped off state transfers to the poor. Technology – IT, robotics, artificial intelligence and electronic gadgets – has created the most class polarized social system in history ..."
"... "The collaboration of liberals and unions in promoting endless wars opened the door to Trump's mirage of a stateless, tax-less, ruling class." ..."
"... Corporations [now] are welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up ..."
"... Corporations not only continuously seek monopolies (with the aid and sanction of the state) but they steadily fine tune the welfare state for their benefit. In fact, in reality, welfare for prols and peasants wouldn't exist if it didn't act as a money conduit and ultimate profit center for the big money grubbers. ..."
"... The article is dismal reading, and evidence of the failings of the "unregulated" society, where the anything goes as long as you are wealthy. ..."
"... Like the Pentagon. Americans still don't readily call this welfare, but they will eventually. Defense profiteers are unions in a sense, you're either in their club Or you're in the service industry that surrounds it. ..."
Dec 13, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

The American welfare state was created in 1935 and continued to develop through 1973. Since then, over a prolonged period, the capitalist class has been steadily dismantling the entire welfare state.

Between the mid 1970's to the present (2017) labor laws, welfare rights and benefits and the construction of and subsidies for affordable housing have been gutted. ' Workfare' (under President 'Bill' Clinton) ended welfare for the poor and displaced workers. Meanwhile the shift to regressive taxation and the steadily declining real wages have increased corporate profits to an astronomical degree.

What started as incremental reversals during the 1990's under Clinton has snowballed over the last two decades decimating welfare legislation and institutions.

The earlier welfare 'reforms' and the current anti-welfare legislation and austerity practices have been accompanied by a series of endless imperial wars, especially in the Middle East.

In the 1940's through the 1960's, world and regional wars (Korea and Indo-China) were combined with significant welfare program – a form of ' social imperialism' , which 'buy off' the working class while expanding the empire. However, recent decades are characterized by multiple regional wars and the reduction or elimination of welfare programs – and a massive growth in poverty, domestic insecurity and poor health.

New Deals and Big Wars

The 1930's witnessed the advent of social legislation and action, which laid the foundations of what is called the ' modern welfare state' .

Labor unions were organized as working class strikes and progressive legislation facilitated trade union organization, elections, collective bargaining rights and a steady increase in union membership. Improved work conditions, rising wages, pension plans and benefits, employer or union-provided health care and protective legislation improved the standard of living for the working class and provided for 2 generations of upward mobility.

Social Security legislation was approved along with workers' compensation and the forty-hour workweek. Jobs were created through federal programs (WPA, CCC, etc.). Protectionist legislation facilitated the growth of domestic markets for US manufacturers. Workplace shop steward councils organized 'on the spot' job action to protect safe working conditions.

World War II led to full employment and increases in union membership, as well as legislation restricting workers' collective bargaining rights and enforcing wage freezes. Hundreds of thousands of Americans found jobs in the war economy but a huge number were also killed or wounded in the war.

The post-war period witnessed a contradictory process: wages and salaries increased while legislation curtailed union rights via the Taft Hartley Act and the McCarthyist purge of leftwing trade union activists. So-called ' right to work' laws effectively outlawed unionization mostly in southern states, which drove industries to relocate to the anti-union states.

Welfare reforms, in the form of the GI bill, provided educational opportunities for working class and rural veterans, while federal-subsidized low interest mortgages encourage home-ownership, especially for veterans.

The New Deal created concrete improvements but did not consolidate labor influence at any level. Capitalists and management still retained control over capital, the workplace and plant location of production.

Trade union officials signed pacts with capital: higher pay for the workers and greater control of the workplace for the bosses. Trade union officials joined management in repressing rank and file movements seeking to control technological changes by reducing hours (" thirty hours work for forty hours pay "). Dissident local unions were seized and gutted by the trade union bosses – sometimes through violence.

Trade union activists, community organizers for rent control and other grassroots movements lost both the capacity and the will to advance toward large-scale structural changes of US capitalism. Living standards improved for a few decades but the capitalist class consolidated strategic control over labor relations. While unionized workers' incomes, increased, inequalities, especially in the non-union sectors began to grow. With the end of the GI bill, veterans' access to high-quality subsidized education declined.

While a new wave of social welfare legislation and programs began in the 1960's and early 1970's it was no longer a result of a mass trade union or workers' "class struggle". Moreover, trade union collaboration with the capitalist regional war policies led to the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of workers in two wars – the Korean and Vietnamese wars.

Much of social legislation resulted from the civil and welfare rights movements. While specific programs were helpful, none of them addressed structural racism and poverty.

The Last Wave of Social Welfarism

The 1960'a witnessed the greatest racial war in modern US history: Mass movements in the South and North rocked state and federal governments, while advancing the cause of civil, social and political rights. Millions of black citizens, joined by white activists and, in many cases, led by African American Viet Nam War veterans, confronted the state. At the same time, millions of students and young workers, threatened by military conscription, challenged the military and social order.

Energized by mass movements, a new wave of social welfare legislation was launched by the federal government to pacify mass opposition among blacks, students, community organizers and middle class Americans. Despite this mass popular movement, the union bosses at the AFL-CIO openly supported the war, police repression and the military, or at best, were passive impotent spectators of the drama unfolding in the nation's streets. Dissident union members and activists were the exception, as many had multiple identities to represent: African American, Hispanic, draft resisters, etc.

Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, Medicare, Medicaid, OSHA, the EPA and multiple poverty programs were implemented. A national health program, expanding Medicare for all Americans, was introduced by President Nixon and sabotaged by the Kennedy Democrats and the AFL-CIO. Overall, social and economic inequalities diminished during this period.

The Vietnam War ended in defeat for the American militarist empire. This coincided with the beginning of the end of social welfare as we knew it – as the bill for militarism placed even greater demands on the public treasury.

With the election of President Carter, social welfare in the US began its long decline. The next series of regional wars were accompanied by even greater attacks on welfare via the " Volker Plan " – freezing workers' wages as a means to combat inflation.

Guns without butter' became the legislative policy of the Carter and Reagan Administrations. The welfare programs were based on politically fragile foundations.

The Debacle of Welfarism

Private sector trade union membership declined from a post-world war peak of 30% falling to 12% in the 1990's. Today it has sunk to 7%. Capitalists embarked on a massive program of closing thousands of factories in the unionized North which were then relocated to the non-unionized low wage southern states and then overseas to Mexico and Asia. Millions of stable jobs disappeared.

Following the election of 'Jimmy Carter', neither Democratic nor Republican Presidents felt any need to support labor organizations. On the contrary, they facilitated contracts dictated by management, which reduced wages, job security, benefits and social welfare.

The anti-labor offensive from the ' Oval Office' intensified under President Reagan with his direct intervention firing tens of thousands of striking air controllers and arresting union leaders. Under Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Clinton cost of living adjustments failed to keep up with prices of vital goods and services. Health care inflation was astronomical. Financial deregulation led to the subordination of American industry to finance and the Wall Street banks. De-industrialization, capital flight and massive tax evasion reduced labor's share of national income.

The capitalist class followed a trajectory of decline, recovery and ascendance. Moreover, during the earlier world depression, at the height of labor mobilization and organization, the capitalist class never faced any significant political threat over its control of the commanding heights of the economy.

The ' New Deal' was, at best, a de facto ' historical compromise' between the capitalist class and the labor unions, mediated by the Democratic Party elite. It was a temporary pact in which the unions secured legal recognition while the capitalists retained their executive prerogatives.

The Second World War secured the economic recovery for capital and subordinated labor through a federally mandated no strike production agreement. There were a few notable exceptions: The coal miners' union organized strikes in strategic sectors and some leftist leaders and organizers encouraged slow-downs, work to rule and other in-plant actions when employers ran roughshod with special brutality over the workers. The recovery of capital was the prelude to a post-war offensive against independent labor-based political organizations. The quality of labor organization declined even as the quantity of trade union membership increased.

Labor union officials consolidated internal control in collaboration with the capitalist elite. Capitalist class-labor official collaboration was extended overseas with strategic consequences.

The post-war corporate alliance between the state and capital led to a global offensive – the replacement of European-Japanese colonial control and exploitation by US business and bankers. Imperialism was later 're-branded' as ' globalization' . It pried open markets, secured cheap docile labor and pillaged resources for US manufacturers and importers.

US labor unions played a major role by sabotaging militant unions abroad in cooperation with the US security apparatus: They worked to coopt and bribe nationalist and leftist labor leaders and supported police-state regime repression and assassination of recalcitrant militants.

' Hand in bloody glove' with the US Empire, the American trade unions planted the seeds of their own destruction at home. The local capitalists in newly emerging independent nations established industries and supply chains in cooperation with US manufacturers. Attracted to these sources of low-wage, violently repressed workers, US capitalists subsequently relocated their factories overseas and turned their backs on labor at home.

Labor union officials had laid the groundwork for the demise of stable jobs and social benefits for American workers. Their collaboration increased the rate of capitalist profit and overall power in the political system. Their complicity in the brutal purges of militants, activists and leftist union members and leaders at home and abroad put an end to labor's capacity to sustain and expand the welfare state.

Trade unions in the US did not use their collaboration with empire in its bloody regional wars to win social benefits for the rank and file workers. The time of social-imperialism, where workers within the empire benefited from imperialism's pillage, was over. Gains in social welfare henceforth could result only from mass struggles led by the urban poor, especially Afro-Americans, community-based working poor and militant youth organizers.

The last significant social welfare reforms were implemented in the early 1970's – coinciding with the end of the Vietnam War (and victory for the Vietnamese people) and ended with the absorption of the urban and anti-war movements into the Democratic Party.

Henceforward the US corporate state advanced through the overseas expansion of the multi-national corporations and via large-scale, non-unionized production at home.

The technological changes of this period did not benefit labor. The belief, common in the 1950's, that science and technology would increase leisure, decrease work and improve living standards for the working class, was shattered. Instead technological changes displaced well-paid industrial labor while increasing the number of mind-numbing, poorly paid, and politically impotent jobs in the so-called 'service sector' – a rapidly growing section of unorganized and vulnerable workers – especially including women and minorities.

Labor union membership declined precipitously. The demise of the USSR and China's turn to capitalism had a dual effect: It eliminated collectivist (socialist) pressure for social welfare and opened their labor markets with cheap, disciplined workers for foreign manufacturers. Labor as a political force disappeared on every count. The US Federal Reserve and President 'Bill' Clinton deregulated financial capital leading to a frenzy of speculation. Congress wrote laws, which permitted overseas tax evasion – especially in Caribbean tax havens. Regional free-trade agreements, like NAFTA, spurred the relocation of jobs abroad. De-industrialization accompanied the decline of wages, living standards and social benefits for millions of American workers.

The New Abolitionists: Trillionaires

The New Deal, the Great Society, trade unions, and the anti-war and urban movements were in retreat and primed for abolition.

Wars without welfare (or guns without butter) replaced earlier 'social imperialism' with a huge growth of poverty and homelessness. Domestic labor was now exploited to finance overseas wars not vice versa. The fruits of imperial plunder were not shared.

As the working and middle classes drifted downward, they were used up, abandoned and deceived on all sides – especially by the Democratic Party. They elected militarists and demagogues as their new presidents.

President 'Bill' Clinton ravaged Russia, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia and liberated Wall Street. His regime gave birth to the prototype billionaire swindlers: Michael Milken and Bernard 'Bernie' Madoff.

Clinton converted welfare into cheap labor 'workfare', exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable and condemning the next generations to grinding poverty. Under Clinton the prison population of mostly African Americans expanded and the breakup of families ravaged the urban communities.

Provoked by an act of terrorism (9/11) President G.W. Bush Jr. launched the 'endless' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and deepened the police state (Patriot Act). Wages for American workers and profits for American capitalist moved in opposite directions.

The Great Financial Crash of 2008-2011 shook the paper economy to its roots and led to the greatest shakedown of any national treasury in history directed by the First Black American President. Trillions of public wealth were funneled into the criminal banks on Wall Street – which were ' just too big to fail .' Millions of American workers and homeowners, however, were ' just too small to matter' .

The Age of Demagogues

President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street, and another trillion to the Pentagon to pursue the Democrats version of foreign policy: from Bush's two overseas wars to Obama's seven.

Obama's electoral 'donor-owners' stashed away two trillion dollars in overseas tax havens and looked forward to global free trade pacts – pushed by the eloquent African American President.

Obama was elected to two terms. His liberal Democratic Party supporters swooned over his peace and justice rhetoric while swallowing his militarist escalation into seven overseas wars as well as the foreclosure of two million American householders. Obama completely failed to honor his campaign promise to reduce wage inequality between black and white wage earners while he continued to moralize to black families about ' values' .

Obama's war against Libya led to the killing and displacement of millions of black Libyans and workers from Sub-Saharan Africa. The smiling Nobel Peace Prize President created more desperate refugees than any previous US head of state – including millions of Africans flooding Europe.

'Obamacare' , his imitation of an earlier Republican governor's health plan, was formulated by the private corporate health industry (private insurance, Big Pharma and the for-profit hospitals), to mandate enrollment and ensure triple digit profits with double digit increases in premiums. By the 2016 Presidential elections, ' Obama-care' was opposed by a 45%-43% margin of the American people. Obama's propagandists could not show any improvement of life expectancy or decrease in infant and maternal mortality as a result of his 'health care reform'. Indeed the opposite occurred among the marginalized working class in the old 'rust belt' and in the rural areas. This failure to show any significant health improvement for the masses of Americans is in stark contrast to LBJ's Medicare program of the 1960's, which continues to receive massive popular support.

Forty-years of anti welfare legislation and pro-business regimes paved the golden road for the election of Donald Trump

Trump and the Republicans are focusing on the tattered remnants of the social welfare system: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. The remains of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society -- are on the chopping block.

The moribund (but well-paid) labor leadership has been notable by its absence in the ensuing collapse of the social welfare state. The liberal left Democrats embraced the platitudinous Obama/Clinton team as the 'Great Society's' gravediggers, while wailing at Trump's allies for shoving the corpse of welfare state into its grave.

Conclusion

Over the past forty years the working class and the rump of what was once referred to as the ' labor movement' has contributed to the dismantling of the social welfare state, voting for ' strike-breaker' Reagan, ' workfare' Clinton, ' Wall Street crash' Bush, ' Wall Street savior' Obama and ' Trickle-down' Trump.

Gone are the days when social welfare and profitable wars raised US living standards and transformed American trade unions into an appendage of the Democratic Party and a handmaiden of Empire. The Democratic Party rescued capitalism from its collapse in the Great Depression, incorporated labor into the war economy and the post- colonial global empire, and resurrected Wall Street from the 'Great Financial Meltdown' of the 21 st century.

The war economy no longer fuels social welfare. The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations. Profits rise while wages fall. Low paying compulsive labor (workfare) lopped off state transfers to the poor. Technology – IT, robotics, artificial intelligence and electronic gadgets – has created the most class polarized social system in history. The first trillionaire and multi-billionaire tax evaders rose on the backs of a miserable standing army of tens of millions of low-wage workers, stripped of rights and representation. State subsidies eliminate virtually all risk to capital. The end of social welfare coerced labor (including young mother with children) to seek insecure low-income employment while slashing education and health – cementing the feet of generations into poverty. Regional wars abroad have depleted the Treasury and robbed the country of productive investment. Economic imperialism exports profits, reversing the historic relation of the past.

Labor is left without compass or direction; it flails in all directions and falls deeper in the web of deception and demagogy. To escape from Reagan and the strike breakers, labor embraced the cheap-labor predator Clinton; black and white workers united to elect Obama who expelled millions of immigrant workers, pursued 7 wars, abandoned black workers and enriched the already filthy rich. Deception and demagogy of the labor-

Issac , December 11, 2017 at 11:01 pm GMT

"The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations."

"The collaboration of liberals and unions in promoting endless wars opened the door to Trump's mirage of a stateless, tax-less, ruling class."

A mirage so real, it even has you convinced.

whyamihere , December 12, 2017 at 4:24 am GMT
If the welfare state in America was abolished, major American cities would burn to the ground. Anarchy would ensue, it would be magnitudes bigger than anything that happened in Ferguson or Baltimore. It would likely be simultaneous.

I think that's one of the only situations where preppers would actually live out what they've been prepping for (except for a natural disaster).

I've been thinking about this a little over the past few years after seeing the race riots. What exactly is the line between our society being civilized and breaking out into chaos. It's probably a lot thinner than most people think.

I don't know who said it but someone long ago said something along the lines of, "Democracy can only work until the people figure out they can vote for themselves generous benefits from the public treasury." We are definitely in this situation today. I wonder how long it can last.

Disordered , December 13, 2017 at 8:41 am GMT
While I agree with Petras's intent (notwithstanding several exaggerations and unnecessary conflations with, for example, racism), I don't agree so much with the method he proposes. I don't mind welfare and unions to a certain extent, but they are not going to save us unless there is full employment and large corporations that can afford to pay an all-union workforce. That happened during WW2, as only wartime demand and those pesky wage freezes solved the Depression, regardless of all the public works programs; while the postwar era benefited from the US becoming the world's creditor, meaning that capital could expand while labor participation did as well.

From then on, it is quite hard to achieve the same success after outsourcing and mechanization have happened all over the world. Both of these phenomena not only create displaced workers, but also displaced industries, meaning that it makes more sense to develop individual workfare (and even then, do it well, not the shoddy way it is done now) rather than giving away checks that probably will not be cashed for entrepreneurial purposes, and rather than giving away money to corrupt unions who depend on trusts to be able to pay for their benefits, while raising the cost of hiring that only encourages more outsourcing.

The amount of welfare given is not necessarily the main problem, the problem is doing it right for the people who truly need it, and efficiently – that is, with the least amount of waste lost between the chain of distribution, which should reach intended targets and not moochers.

Which inevitably means a sound tax system that targets unearned wealth and (to a lesser degree) foreign competition instead of national production, coupled with strict, yet devolved and simple government processes that benefit both business and individuals tired of bureaucracy, while keeping budgets balanced. Best of both worlds, and no military-industrial complex needed to drive up demand.

Wally , Website December 13, 2017 at 8:57 am GMT
"President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street " That's twice the amount that Bush gave them.
jacques sheete , December 13, 2017 at 10:52 am GMT

The American welfare state was created in 1935 and continued to develop through 1973. Since then, over a prolonged period, the capitalist class has been steadily dismantling the entire welfare state.

Wrong wrong wrong.

Corporations [now] are welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up, and welfare for them started before 1935. In fact, it started in America before there was a USA. I do not have time to elaborate, but what were the various companies such as the British East India Company and the Dutch West India Companies but state pampered, welfare based entities? ~200 years ago, Herbert Spencer, if memory serves, pointed out that the British East India Company couldn't make a profit even with all the special, government granted favors showered upon it.

Corporations not only continuously seek monopolies (with the aid and sanction of the state) but they steadily fine tune the welfare state for their benefit. In fact, in reality, welfare for prols and peasants wouldn't exist if it didn't act as a money conduit and ultimate profit center for the big money grubbers.

Den Lille Abe , December 13, 2017 at 11:09 am GMT
Well, the author kind of nails it. I remember from my childhood in the 50-60 ties in Scandinavia that the US was the ultimate goal in welfare. The country where you could make a good living with your two hands, get you kids to UNI, have a house, a telly ECT. It was not consumerism, it was the American dream, a chicken in every pot; we chewed imported American gum and dreamed.

In the 70-80 ties Scandinavia had a tremendous social and economic growth, EQUALLY distributed, an immense leap forward. In the middle of the 80 ties we were equal to the US in standards of living.

Since we have not looked at the US, unless in pity, as we have seen the decline of the general income, social wealth fall way behind our own.
The average US workers income has not increased since 90 figures adjusted for inflation. The Scandinavian workers income in the same period has almost quadrupled. And so has our societies.

The article is dismal reading, and evidence of the failings of the "unregulated" society, where the anything goes as long as you are wealthy.

wayfarer , December 13, 2017 at 1:01 pm GMT

Between the mid 1970's to the present (2017) labor laws, welfare rights and benefits and the construction of and subsidies for affordable housing have been gutted. 'Workfare' (under President 'Bill' Clinton) ended welfare for the poor and displaced workers. Meanwhile the shift to regressive taxation and the steadily declining real wages have increased corporate profits to an astronomical degree.

source: http://www.unz.com/jpetras/rise-and-decline-of-the-welfare-state/

What does Hollywood "elite" JAP and wannabe hack-stand-up-comic Sarah Silverman think about the class struggle and problems facing destitute Americans? "Qu'ils mangent de la bagels!", source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_them_eat_cake

... ... ...

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 1:40 pm GMT
@Greg Fraser

Like the Pentagon. Americans still don't readily call this welfare, but they will eventually. Defense profiteers are unions in a sense, you're either in their club Or you're in the service industry that surrounds it.

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 2:43 pm GMT
As other commenters have pointed out, it's Petras curious choice of words that sometimes don't make too much sense. We can probably blame the maleable English language for that, but here it's too obvious. If you don't define a union, people might assume you're only talking about a bunch of meat cutters at Safeway.

The welfare state is alive and well for corporate America. Unions are still here – but they are defined by access and secrecy, you're either in the club or not.

The war on unions was successful first by co-option but mostly by the media. But what kind of analysis leaves out the role of the media in the American transformation? The success is mind blowing.

America has barely literate (white) middle aged males trained to spout incoherent Calvinistic weirdness: unabased hatred for the poor (or whoever they're told to hate) and a glorification of hedge fund managers as they get laid off, fired and foreclosed on, with a side of opiates.

There is hardly anything more tragic then seeing a web filled with progressives (management consultants) dedicated to disempowering, disabling and deligitimizing victims by claiming they are victims of biology, disease or a lack of an education rather than a system that issues violence while portending (with the best media money can buy) that they claim the higher ground.

animalogic , December 13, 2017 at 2:57 pm GMT
@Wally

""Democracy can only work until the people figure out they can vote for themselves generous benefits from the public treasury." We are definitely in this situation today."

Quite right: the 0.01% have worked it out & US democracy is a Theatre for the masses.

Reg Cζsar , December 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm GMT

They elected militarists and demagogues as their new presidents.

Wilson and FDR were much more militarist and demagogic than those that followed.

Reg Cζsar , December 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm GMT
@whyamihere

I don't know who said it but someone long ago said something along the lines of, "Democracy can only work until the people figure out they can vote for themselves generous benefits from the public treasury."

Some French aristocrat put it as, once the gates to the treasury have been breached, they can only be closed again with gunpowder. Anyone recognize the author?

phil , December 13, 2017 at 4:48 pm GMT
The author doesn't get it. What we have now IS the welfare state in an intensely diverse society. We have more transfer spending than ever before and Obamacare represents another huge entitlement.

Intellectuals continue to fantasize about the US becoming a Big Sweden, but Sweden has only been successful insofar as it has been a modest nation-state populated by ethnic Swedes. Intense diversity in a huge country with only the remnants of federalism results in massive non-consensual decision-making, fragmentation, increased inequality, and corruption.

HallParvey , December 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm GMT
@Anonymous

The welfare state is alive and well for corporate America. Unions are still here – but they are defined by access and secrecy, you're either in the club or not.

They are largely defined as Doctors, Lawyers, and University Professors who teach the first two. Of course they are not called unions. Access is via credentialing and licensing. Good Day

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm GMT
@Linda Green

Bernie Sanders, speaking on behalf of the MIC's welfare bird: "It is the airplane of the United States Air Force, Navy, and of NATO."

Elizabeth Warren, referring to Mossad's Estes Rockets: "The Israeli military has the right to attack Palestinian hospitals and schools in self defense"

Barack Obama, yukking it up with pop stars: "Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming."

It's not the agitprop that confuses the sheep, it's whose blowhole it's coming out of (labled D or R for convenience) that gets them to bare their teeth and speak of poo.

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm GMT
@HallParvey

What came first, the credentialing or the idea that it is a necessary part of education? It certainly isn't an accurate indication of what people know or their general intelligence – although that myth has flourished. Good afternoon.

Logan , December 13, 2017 at 9:10 pm GMT
@Realist

For an interesting projection of what might happen in total civilizational collapse, I recommend the Dies the Fire series of novels by SM Stirling.

It has a science-fictiony setup in that all high-energy system (gunpowder, electricity, explosives, internal combustion, even high-energy steam engines) suddenly stop working. But I think it does a good job of extrapolating what would happen if suddenly the cities did not have food, water, power, etc.

Spoiler alert: It ain't pretty. Those who dream of a world without guns have not really thought it through.

Logan , December 13, 2017 at 9:19 pm GMT
@phil

It has been pointed out repeatedly that Sweden does very well relative to the USA. It has also been noted that people of Swedish ancestry in the USA do pretty well also. In fact considerably better than Swedes in Sweden

[Dec 14, 2017] The 1970's was in many ways the watershed decade for the neoliberal transformation of the American economy and society

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What I also remember well however, is how little support PATCO was able to garnish from other unionized workers (and in many cases from union leadership as well). It seemed to me at the time that some of the strongest hostility came from rank and file of trade and utilities unions. ..."
"... I recall too that it was in the 1970's that the threat of "relocation", at that time mainly from the more heavily unionized north and northeastern states to the union-hostile south began to play a major role in the destruction of the power of labor. ..."
"... And I remember the beginning of the financialization of the American corporation that I experienced on a "micro" scale, a kid lucky enough to have a summer job while in university at a large resource-extraction corporation's HQ in NYC. I recall white-collar conversations about compensation and about how salaries had steadily risen over the past decade (the company was said to be doing "really well"). And I remember how towards the end of my summer stints more and more conversation was about stock prices and Wall Street favor and about the new executive managerial style brought in by "those young MBA"s", and about (for the first time) worries of a "take-over" by "outsiders" (the company, although public, had had family leadership for many years). ..."
"... And most of all I remember how gradually the material-economic components to the identity of the blue-collar and middle class worker were written out of existence. The great narrative, the myth that explains to us what it means to be "an American," no longer included any hint of class solidarity, of the kind of work we did, the pay we earned, the common living conditions in the small towns and urban neighborhoods and "cookie-cutter" suburbs of America. ..."
"... Formerly the struggle of economic and material improvement was seen by most ordinary Americas as a struggle for certain necessary conditions to maintain, strengthen, and perpetuate a way-of-life in which the common core assumptions about the "good life" remained basically stable and unchallenged: family, stable job, residential security, public schools, public places -- neighborhood bars, coffee shops, civic clubs, parks and playgrounds -- where people could meet and interact as social equals. ..."
"... The financialization of the economy, indeed of social life itself to a great extent, meant the drive for the maximization of private profit and the pursuit of interests and 'efficiencies" conceived entirely apart from any impact of the common good of society as a whole, and should have been seen as a grave threat to the very conditions of material and economic security, only recently achieved, that were the foundation of these other civic and social institutions. ..."
"... Instead, through a grand and diabolical deceit cynically promulgated by a mostly Republican capitalist class of privilege, but also aided and abetted by a "new Left" that increasingly postured itself as the enemy of this older and more traditional way of life ..."
Dec 14, 2017 | www.unz.com

BigAl , December 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm GMT

The 1970's was in many ways the watershed decade for the radical transformation of the American economy and society, even more than the 1960's (I lived through both as a young man). I have yet to read the definitive social-critical analysis of these years to explain the changes that, looking back, seem to have taken the country of my childhood right out from under me, gone forever, increasingly difficult to remember through the fog of nostalgia that tends to distort as much as to reveal.

Some of the things I do remember about this time include the PATCO (air traffic controllers) strike, very well. What is often not mentioned is that PATCO was attempting to do something that had not been permitted under federal civil service law, that is, bargain for wages as well as working conditions. Wage bargaining, PATCO correctly assessed, was the issue that made or broke unions and had enabled state and local public employees to finally begin to earn a decent, living wage beginning in the 1960's (think the iconic Mike Quill and the NYC TWU).

Reagan correctly (from his point of view) saw that to fail to break PATCO on this issue was to open the floodgates and turn the U.S. civil services into something akin to its European counterpart, with the possibility of general strikes and the rest. And of course to encourage private sector unions in their drive to organize and to change federal and state labor laws to strengthen the right to picket strike and organize.

What I also remember well however, is how little support PATCO was able to garnish from other unionized workers (and in many cases from union leadership as well). It seemed to me at the time that some of the strongest hostility came from rank and file of trade and utilities unions. Of course Reagan, following the Nixon playbook, shrewdly played the patriot-nationalist card, painting PATCO as a threat to national security as well as composed of a bunch of ingrates who should have been happy to have jobs. But by then the segmentation of the American workforce, a tactic that played right into the hands of the corporate-capitalist class was in full swing. The American worker lucky enough to possess a decent paying skilled or semi-skilled union job was being taught to see their situation as morally "deserved" and to see newer aspirants to similar positions, whether recently arrived immigrants or members of racial-ethnic groups previously suppressed by law, custom and prejudice as threats/dangers/enemies of their own recently won status.

I recall too that it was in the 1970's that the threat of "relocation", at that time mainly from the more heavily unionized north and northeastern states to the union-hostile south began to play a major role in the destruction of the power of labor. This was the beginning of the "globalization" factor and of the off-shoring of manufacturing jobs that has been commented on extensively and that took off a decade or so later. What is often not recalled is that unions and other pro-labor groups attempted to lobby Congress to amend the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) and to appoint labor-friendly members to the NLRB to ensure that plant relocation would be a mandatory subject of bargaining and thus prevent unilateral (by capital ownership) relocation or the threat of relocation as a means to destroy the power of labor. They were, of course, not successful, and factories and business continued to move away from traditional centers of labor power and worker-protections, first to so-called "right-to-work" states and eventually to Asia.

And I remember the beginning of the financialization of the American corporation that I experienced on a "micro" scale, a kid lucky enough to have a summer job while in university at a large resource-extraction corporation's HQ in NYC. I recall white-collar conversations about compensation and about how salaries had steadily risen over the past decade (the company was said to be doing "really well"). And I remember how towards the end of my summer stints more and more conversation was about stock prices and Wall Street favor and about the new executive managerial style brought in by "those young MBA"s", and about (for the first time) worries of a "take-over" by "outsiders" (the company, although public, had had family leadership for many years).

And most of all I remember how gradually the material-economic components to the identity of the blue-collar and middle class worker were written out of existence. The great narrative, the myth that explains to us what it means to be "an American," no longer included any hint of class solidarity, of the kind of work we did, the pay we earned, the common living conditions in the small towns and urban neighborhoods and "cookie-cutter" suburbs of America.

Formerly the struggle of economic and material improvement was seen by most ordinary Americas as a struggle for certain necessary conditions to maintain, strengthen, and perpetuate a way-of-life in which the common core assumptions about the "good life" remained basically stable and unchallenged: family, stable job, residential security, public schools, public places -- neighborhood bars, coffee shops, civic clubs, parks and playgrounds -- where people could meet and interact as social equals.

The financialization of the economy, indeed of social life itself to a great extent, meant the drive for the maximization of private profit and the pursuit of interests and 'efficiencies" conceived entirely apart from any impact of the common good of society as a whole, and should have been seen as a grave threat to the very conditions of material and economic security, only recently achieved, that were the foundation of these other civic and social institutions.

Instead, through a grand and diabolical deceit cynically promulgated by a mostly Republican capitalist class of privilege, but also aided and abetted by a "new Left" that increasingly postured itself as the enemy of this older and more traditional way of life, the enemy was reconceived as the new "elites", the young, urban, hipster "Leftist" who despised the old ways and represented a singular assault on everything good about America.

Meanwhile, steadily, relentlessly, the material conditions and hard-won economic improvements that had gradually made small town, urban-neighborhood, and inner-suburban life decent and livable were being destroyed by a class that paid lip-service to Capra's Bedford Falls while at the same time endlessly working to transform it into Pottersville.

[Oct 21, 2016] The capitalist crisis and the radicalization of the working class in 2012 - World Socialist Web Site by David North

Its from World Socialist Web Site by thier analysys does contain some valid points. Especially about betrayal of nomenklatura, and, especially, KGB nomenklatura,which was wholesale bought by the USA for cash.
Note that the author is unable or unwilling to use the tterm "neoliberalism". Looks like orthodox Marxism has problem with this notion as it contradict Marxism dogma that capitalism as an economic doctrine is final stage before arrival of socialism. Looks like it is not the final ;-)
Notable quotes:
"... Russia Since 1980 ..."
"... History reveals that the grandsons of the Bolshevik coup d'ιtat didn't destroy the Soviet Union in a valiant effort to advance the cause of communist prosperity or even to return to their common European home; instead, it transformed Soviet managers and ministers into roving bandits (asset-grabbing privateers) with a tacit presidential charter to privatize the people's assets and revenues to themselves under the new Muscovite rule of men ..."
"... The scale of this plunder was astounding. It not only bankrupted the Soviet Union, forcing Russian President Boris Yeltsin to appeal to the G-7 for $6 billion of assistance on December 6, 1991, but triggered a free fall in aggregate production commencing in 1990, aptly known as catastroika. ..."
"... In retrospect, the Soviet economy didn't collapse because the liberalized command economy devised after 1953 was marked for death. The system was inefficient, corrupt and reprehensible in a myriad of ways, but sustainable, as the CIA and most Sovietologists maintained. It was destroyed by Gorbachev's tolerance and complicity in allowing privateers to misappropriate state revenues, pilfer materials, spontaneously privatize, and hotwire their ill-gotten gains abroad, all of which disorganized production. ..."
"... The rapid growth and increasing complexity of the Soviet economy required access to the resources of the world economy. ..."
"... For the Soviet bureaucracy, a parasitic social caste committed to the defense of its privileges and terrified of the working class, the revolutionary solution to the contradictions of the Soviet economy was absolutely unthinkable. The only course that it could contemplate was the second-capitulation to imperialism. ..."
"... In other words, the integration of the USSR into the structure of the world capitalist economy on a capitalist basis means not the slow development of a backward national economy, but the rapid destruction of one which has sustained living conditions which are, at least for the working class, far closer to those that exist in the advanced countries than in the third world. ..."
"... The Fourth International ..."
"... The End of the USSR, ..."
"... The report related the destruction of the USSR by the ruling bureaucracy to a broader international phenomenon. The smashing up of the USSR was mirrored in the United States by the destruction of the trade unions as even partial instruments of working-class defense. ..."
"... Millions of people are going to see imperialism for what it really is. The democratic mask is going to be torn off. The idea that imperialism is compatible with peace is going to be exposed. The very elements which drove masses into revolutionary struggle in the past are once again present. The workers of Russia and the Ukraine are going to be reminded why they made a revolution in the first place. The American workers are going to be reminded why they themselves in an earlier period engaged in the most massive struggles against the corporations. The workers of Europe are going to be reminded why their continent was the birthplace of socialism and Karl Marx. [p. 25] ..."
Jan 30, 2012 | www.wsws.org

... ... ...

This analysis has been vindicated by scholarly investigations into the causes of the Soviet economic collapse that facilitated the bureaucracy's dissolution of the USSR. In Russia Since 1980, published in 2008 by Cambridge University Press, Professors Steven Rosefielde and Stefan Hedlund present evidence that Gorbachev introduced measures that appear, in retrospect, to have been aimed at sabotaging the Soviet economy. "Gorbachev and his entourage," they write, "seem to have had a venal hidden agenda that caused things to get out of hand quickly." [p. 38] In a devastating appraisal of Gorbachev's policies, Rosefielde and Hedlund state:

History reveals that the grandsons of the Bolshevik coup d'ιtat didn't destroy the Soviet Union in a valiant effort to advance the cause of communist prosperity or even to return to their common European home; instead, it transformed Soviet managers and ministers into roving bandits (asset-grabbing privateers) with a tacit presidential charter to privatize the people's assets and revenues to themselves under the new Muscovite rule of men. [p. 40]

Instead of displaying due diligence over personal use of state revenues, materials and property, inculcated in every Bolshevik since 1917, Gorbachev winked at a counterrevolution from below opening Pandora's Box. He allowed enterprises and others not only to profit maximize for the state in various ways, which was beneficial, but also to misappropriate state assets, and export the proceeds abroad. In the process, red directors disregarded state contracts and obligations, disorganizing inter-industrial intermediate input flows, and triggering a depression from which the Soviet Union never recovered and Russia has barely emerged. [p. 47]

Given all the heated debates that would later ensue about how Yeltsin and his shock therapy engendered mass plunder, it should be noted that the looting began under Gorbachev's watch. It was his malign neglect that transformed the rhetoric of Market Communism into the pillage of the nation's assets.

The scale of this plunder was astounding. It not only bankrupted the Soviet Union, forcing Russian President Boris Yeltsin to appeal to the G-7 for $6 billion of assistance on December 6, 1991, but triggered a free fall in aggregate production commencing in 1990, aptly known as catastroika.

In retrospect, the Soviet economy didn't collapse because the liberalized command economy devised after 1953 was marked for death. The system was inefficient, corrupt and reprehensible in a myriad of ways, but sustainable, as the CIA and most Sovietologists maintained. It was destroyed by Gorbachev's tolerance and complicity in allowing privateers to misappropriate state revenues, pilfer materials, spontaneously privatize, and hotwire their ill-gotten gains abroad, all of which disorganized production. [p. 49]

The analysis of Rosefielde and Hedlund, while accurate in its assessment of Gorbachev's actions, is simplistic. Gorbachev's policies can be understood only within the framework of more fundamental political and socioeconomic factors. First, and most important, the real objective crisis of the Soviet economy (which existed and preceded by many decades the accession of Gorbachev to power) developed out of the contradictions of the autarkic nationalist policies pursued by the Soviet regime since Stalin and Bukharin introduced the program of "socialism in one country" in 1924. The rapid growth and increasing complexity of the Soviet economy required access to the resources of the world economy. This access could be achieved only in one of two ways: either through the spread of socialist revolution into the advanced capitalist countries, or through the counterrevolutionary integration of the USSR into the economic structures of world capitalism.

For the Soviet bureaucracy, a parasitic social caste committed to the defense of its privileges and terrified of the working class, the revolutionary solution to the contradictions of the Soviet economy was absolutely unthinkable. The only course that it could contemplate was the second-capitulation to imperialism. This second course, moreover, opened for the leading sections of the bureaucracy the possibility of permanently securing their privileges and vastly expanding their wealth. The privileged caste would become a ruling class. The corruption of Gorbachev, Yeltsin and their associates was merely the necessary means employed by the bureaucracy to achieve this utterly reactionary and immensely destructive outcome.

On October 3, 1991, less than three months before the dissolution of the USSR, I delivered a lecture in Kiev in which I challenged the argument-which was widely propagated by the Stalinist regime-that the restoration of capitalism would bring immense benefits to the people. I stated:

In this country, capitalist restoration can only take place on the basis of the widespread destruction of the already existing productive forces and the social- cultural institutions that depended upon them. In other words, the integration of the USSR into the structure of the world capitalist economy on a capitalist basis means not the slow development of a backward national economy, but the rapid destruction of one which has sustained living conditions which are, at least for the working class, far closer to those that exist in the advanced countries than in the third world. When one examines the various schemes hatched by proponents of capitalist restoration, one cannot but conclude that they are no less ignorant than Stalin of the real workings of the world capitalist economy. And they are preparing the ground for a social tragedy that will eclipse that produced by the pragmatic and nationalistic policies of Stalin. ["Soviet Union at the Crossroads," published in The Fourth International (Fall- Winter 1992, Volume 19, No. 1, p. 109), Emphasis in the original.]

Almost exactly 20 years ago, on January 4, 1992, the Workers League held a party membership meeting in Detroit to consider the historical, political and social implications of the dissolution of the USSR. Rereading this report so many years later, I believe that it has stood the test of time. It stated that the dissolution of the USSR "represents the juridical liquidation of the workers' state and its replacement with regimes that are openly and unequivocally devoted to the destruction of the remnants of the national economy and the planning system that issued from the October Revolution. To define the CIS [Confederation of Independent States] or its independent republics as workers states would be to completely separate the definition from the concrete content which it expressed during the previous period." [David North, The End of the USSR, Labor Publications, 1992, p. 6]

The report continued:

"A revolutionary party must face reality and state what is. The Soviet working class has suffered a serious defeat. The bureaucracy has devoured the workers state before the working class was able to clean out the bureaucracy. This fact, however unpleasant, does not refute the perspective of the Fourth International. Since it was founded in 1938, our movement has repeatedly said that if the working class was not able to destroy this bureaucracy, then the Soviet Union would suffer a shipwreck. Trotsky did not call for political revolution as some sort of exaggerated response to this or that act of bureaucratic malfeasance. He said that a political revolution was necessary because only in that way could the Soviet Union, as a workers state, be defended against imperialism." [p. 6]

I sought to explain why the Soviet working class had failed to rise up in opposition to the bureaucracy's liquidation of the Soviet Union. How was it possible that the destruction of the Soviet Union-having survived the horrors of the Nazi invasion-could be carried out "by a miserable group of petty gangsters, acting in the interests of the scum of Soviet society?" I offered the following answer:

We must reply to these questions by stressing the implications of the massive destruction of revolutionary cadre carried out within the Soviet Union by the Stalinist regime. Virtually all the human representatives of the revolutionary tradition who consciously prepared and led that revolution were wiped out. And along with the political leaders of the revolution, the most creative representatives of the intelligentsia who had flourished in the early years of the Soviet state were also annihilated or terrorized into silence.

Furthermore, we must point to the deep-going alienation of the working class itself from state property. Property belonged to the state, but the state "belonged" to the bureaucracy, as Trotsky noted. The fundamental distinction between state property and bourgeois property-however important from a theoretical standpoint-became less and less relevant from a practical standpoint. It is true that capitalist exploitation did not exist in the scientific sense of the term, but that did not alter the fact that the day-to-day conditions of life in factories and mines and other workplaces were as miserable as are to be found in any of the advanced capitalist countries, and, in many cases, far worse.

Finally, we must consider the consequences of the protracted decay of the international socialist movement...

Especially during the past decade, the collapse of effective working class resistance in any part of the world to the bourgeois offensive had a demoralizing effect on Soviet workers. Capitalism assumed an aura of "invincibility," although this aura was merely the illusory reflection of the spinelessness of the labor bureaucracies all over the world, which have on every occasion betrayed the workers and capitulated to the bourgeoisie. What the Soviet workers saw was not the bitter resistance of sections of workers to the international offensive of capital, but defeats and their consequences. [p. 13-14]

The report related the destruction of the USSR by the ruling bureaucracy to a broader international phenomenon. The smashing up of the USSR was mirrored in the United States by the destruction of the trade unions as even partial instruments of working-class defense.

In every part of the world, including the advanced countries, the workers are discovering that their own parties and their own trade union organizations are engaged in the related task of systematically lowering and impoverishing the working class. [p. 22]

Finally, the report dismissed any notion that the dissolution of the USSR signified a new era of progressive capitalist development.

Millions of people are going to see imperialism for what it really is. The democratic mask is going to be torn off. The idea that imperialism is compatible with peace is going to be exposed. The very elements which drove masses into revolutionary struggle in the past are once again present. The workers of Russia and the Ukraine are going to be reminded why they made a revolution in the first place. The American workers are going to be reminded why they themselves in an earlier period engaged in the most massive struggles against the corporations. The workers of Europe are going to be reminded why their continent was the birthplace of socialism and Karl Marx. [p. 25]

The aftermath of the dissolution of the USSR: 20 years of economic crisis, social decay, and political reaction

According to liberal theory, the dissolution of the Soviet Union ought to have produced a new flowering of democracy. Of course, nothing of the sort occurred-not in the former USSR or, for that matter, in the United States. Moreover, the breakup of the Soviet Union-the so-called defeat of communism-was not followed by a triumphant resurgence of its irreconcilable enemies in the international workers' movement, the social democratic and reformist trade unions and political parties. The opposite occurred. All these organizations experienced, in the aftermath of the breakup of the USSR, a devastating and even terminal crisis. In the United States, the trade union movement-whose principal preoccupation during the entire Cold War had been the defeat of Communism-has all but collapsed. During the two decades that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union, the AFL-CIO lost a substantial portion of its membership, was reduced to a state of utter impotence, and ceased to exist as a workers' organization in any socially significant sense of the term. At the same time, everywhere in the world, the social position of the working class-from the standpoint of its influence on the direction of state policy and its ability to increase its share of the surplus value produced by its own labor-deteriorated dramatically.

Certain important conclusions flow from this fact. First, the breakup of the Soviet Union did not flow from the supposed failure of Marxism and socialism. If that had been the case, the anti-Marxist and antisocialist labor organizations should have thrived in the post-Soviet era. The fact that these organizations experienced ignominious failure compels one to uncover the common feature in the program and orientation of all the so-called labor organizations, "communist" and anticommunist alike. What was the common element in the political DNA of all these organization? The answer is that regardless of their names, conflicting political alignments and superficial ideological differences, the large labor organizations of the post-World War II period pursued essentially nationalist policies. They tied the fate of the working class to one or another nation-state. This left them incapable of responding to the increasing integration of the world economy. The emergence of transnational corporations and the associated phenomena of capitalist globalization shattered all labor organizations that based themselves on a nationalist program.

The second conclusion is that the improvement of conditions of the international working class was linked, to one degree or another, to the existence of the Soviet Union. Despite the treachery and crimes of the Stalinist bureaucracy, the existence of the USSR, a state that arose on the basis of a socialist revolution, imposed upon American and European imperialism certain political and social restraints that would otherwise have been unacceptable. The political environment of the past two decades-characterized by unrestrained imperialist militarism, the violations of international law, and the repudiation of essential principles of bourgeois democracy-is the direct outcome of the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

The breakup of the USSR was, for the great masses of its former citizens, an unmitigated disaster. Twenty years after the October Revolution, despite all the political crimes of the Stalinist regime, the new property relations established in the aftermath of the October Revolution made possible an extraordinary social transformation of backward Russia. And even after suffering horrifying losses during the four years of war with Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union experienced in the 20 years that followed the war a stupendous growth of its economy, which was accompanied by advances in science and culture that astonished the entire world.

But what is the verdict on the post-Soviet experience of the Russian people? First and foremost, the dissolution of the USSR set into motion a demographic catastrophe. Ten years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Russian population was shrinking at an annual rate of 750,000. Between 1983 and 2001, the number of annual births dropped by one half. 75 percent of pregnant women in Russia suffered some form of illness that endangered their unborn child. Only one quarter of infants were born healthy.

The overall health of the Russian people deteriorated dramatically after the restoration of capitalism. There was a staggering rise in alcoholism, heart disease, cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. All this occurred against the backdrop of a catastrophic breakdown of the economy of the former USSR and a dramatic rise in mass poverty.

As for democracy, the post-Soviet system was consolidated on the basis of mass murder. For more than 70 years, the Bolshevik regime's dissolution of the Constituent Assembly in January 1918-an event that did not entail the loss of a single life-was trumpeted as an unforgettable and unforgivable violation of democratic principles. But in October 1993, having lost a majority in the popularly elected parliament, the Yeltsin regime ordered the bombardment of the White House-the seat of the Russian parliament-located in the middle of Moscow. Estimates of the number of people who were killed in the military assault run as high as 2,000. On the basis of this carnage, the Yeltsin regime was effectively transformed into a dictatorship, based on the military and security forces. The regime of Putin-Medvedev continues along the same dictatorial lines. The assault on the White House was supported by the Clinton administration. Unlike the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the bombardment of the Russian parliament is an event that has been all but forgotten.

What is there to be said of post-Soviet Russian culture? As always, there are talented people who do their best to produce serious work. But the general picture is one of desolation. The words that have emerged from the breakup of the USSR and that define modern Russian culture, or what is left of it, are "mafia," "biznessman" and "oligarch."

What has occurred in Russia is only an extreme expression of a social and cultural breakdown that is to be observed in all capitalist countries. Can it even be said with certainty that the economic system devised in Russia is more corrupt that that which exists in Britain or the United States? The Russian oligarchs are probably cruder and more vulgar in the methods they employ. However, the argument could be plausibly made that their methods of plunder are less efficient than those employed by their counterparts in the summits of American finance. After all, the American financial oligarchs, whose speculative operations brought about the near-collapse of the US and global economy in the autumn of 2008, were able to orchestrate, within a matter of days, the transfer of the full burden of their losses to the public.

It is undoubtedly true that the dissolution of the USSR at the end of 1991 opened up endless opportunities for the use of American power-in the Balkans, the Middle East and Central Asia. But the eruption of American militarism was, in the final analysis, the expression of a more profound and historically significant tendency-the long-term decline of the economic position of American capitalism. This tendency was not reversed by the breakup of the USSR. The history of American capitalism during the past two decades has been one of decay. The brief episodes of economic growth have been based on reckless and unsustainable speculation. The Clinton boom of the 1990s was fueled by the "irrational exuberance" of Wall Street speculation, the so-called dot.com bubble. The great corporate icons of the decade-of which Enron was the shining symbol-were assigned staggering valuations on the basis of thoroughly criminal operations. It all collapsed in 2000-2001. The subsequent revival was fueled by frenzied speculation in housing. And, finally, the collapse in 2008, from which there has been no recovery.

When historians begin to recover from their intellectual stupor, they will see the collapse of the USSR and the protracted decline of American capitalism as interrelated episodes of a global crisis, arising from the inability to develop the massive productive forces developed by mankind on the basis of private ownership of the means of production and within the framework of the nation-state system.

[Aug 29, 2015] Review of David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism

February 12, 2009 | Blog Is Dead

Review of David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism

David Harvey's 2005 book A Brief History of Neoliberalism
traces the origins of neoliberalism as a form of political economy through its recent history in an attempt to explain what the overarching goal of neoliberalism actually is. Although Harvey can be vague as to what the actual economic policies of neoliberalism entail, his argument as to what this new form of political economy sought to accomplish is definitely on the mark. For Harvey neoliberalism is essentially about the reconstitution of class power by the global economic elite. Thus neoliberalism in its practice has not been a "utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism" (Harvey, 2005, p. 19) but a practical political project meant to restore the power of economic elites. Harvey goes on to state that any time the theoretical economic principles of neoliberalism came into conflict with elite power, elite power took precedence. This is borne out by the willingness of governments who are certainly committed to theoretical neoliberalism, such as the Bush administration, to throw out free market neoliberal principles when they seriously threatened elite power. The obvious examples are the various bailouts of companies or entire industries, whom according to neoliberal theory, should be allowed to fail as a kind of punishment for market inefficiency.

On this notion of class power Harvey is at his best, since a recurrent theme promoted by neoliberals has been the idea of allowing the free market to take its course and for the government to back off. Yet these demands for the rollback of government intervention in the economy have always been one sided. The government is called on to lesson regulations and intervention in the economy only when it will benefit the economic elites. Thus labour and environmental regulations were attacked by neoliberals as distorting the price mechanisms of the free market and were seen as examples of how government intervention in the economy always leads to inefficiency. Yet the same neoliberals were surprisingly quiet in 2001 when President Bush approved a massive bailout for the airline industry. Surely if government intervention in the economy distorts prices and subverts the more efficient market mechanisms then they would oppose such "government overreach" as a gross violation of neoliberal theory? Here is where we can apply Harvey's insight about neoliberalism as more of a practical attempt to restore elite class power than as a theoretical project driven by the works of Hayek or Friedman. Thus we end up in practice with a kind of one sided neoliberalism, where government intervention is bad if it would protect labour or the environment, but government intervention is good if it will help economic elites.

The second major point that Harvey makes which is well taken, is his argument that neoliberalism has not so much been about increasing wealth, but about redistributing it. Here we have an explanation of why, despite neoliberal theory which states that market mechanisms are more efficient and therefore better at generating wealth than forms of state intervention, GDP growth rates during the neoliberal era actually declined as shown by Harvey's statistics. Again this relates to the practical aspect of neoliberalism as a reconstitution of the power of economic elites, rather than adhering to any strict form of economic theory. So despite the poor growth rates, we have seen a dramatic increase in the wealth of the economic elite, borne out by the massive increase in CEO salaries, accompanied by a decline in real wages for the poorer sectors of the population. Thus the more unequal distribution of wealth that Harvey talks about, which also reinforces the class division between the economic elite and everyone else.

Harvey terms these techniques of upward redistribution of wealth accumulation by dispossession. Harvey argues that accumulation by dispossession is the main mechanism whereby neoliberalism achieved this redistribution of wealth. He sees accumulation by dispossession as a kind of continuation or extension of the Marxian concept of primitive accumulation whereby during the onset of capitalism, common lands were privatized, labour was commodified, and exchange was monetized and financialized. Harvey lists the main aspects of accumulation by dispossession in the modern neoliberal sense as privatization and commodification, financialization, the management and manipulation of crises, and state redistributions. This defining of the precise mechanisms of accumulation by dispossession is as close as Harvey comes to giving a definition of neoliberalism itself, but he sees accumulation by dispossession as a kind of technique of neoliberalism, not as what neoliberalism itself consists of.

By sketching out the brief history of neoliberalism, Harvey explains why the techniques of accumulation by dispossession were required as a means to reconstitute class power. Prior to neoliberalism the global political economy was dominated by the form of capitalism called embedded liberalism, whereby liberal market economies were embedded inside the regulatory framework of the state. These regulations included strong union rights, unemployment insurance, strict regulation of the financial system, and other such limits to the scope of market activities. Harvey explains that neoliberalism essentially sought to disembed the liberal economies from the state's regulatory framework, and thus went about essentially privatizing the commons a second time. This contrast of neoliberalism to embedded liberalism in a historical context is useful in explaining why economic elites gravitated towards neoliberalism as a way to restoring their class power and provides an example in the form of embedded liberalism of what neoliberalism is not.

In giving his brief history of neoliberalism, Harvey touches on a couple of intriguing points which would have been interesting to pursue further. The first is the way in which neoliberals were able to find an electoral base by aligning themselves with conservative religious groups, in particular the evangelical Christian Right in the United States. He also mentions the Hindu Nationalist Party in India which used religious and nationalist sentiment to win election, after which it preceded to undertake neoliberal economic reforms. In terms of the neoliberal harnessing of the Christian Right for an electoral base, Harvey shows the interesting symmetry between the anti-state economic approach of neoliberals, and the anti-state social approach of conservative Christians who saw the liberal state as providing special privileges or affirmative action to groups such as gays and lesbians (same sex marriage), and women (abortion), which they morally disagreed with. The interesting aspect here is of course that much of the American Bible belt which provides the core of the Christian Right is also the poorest part of the United States and stood the most to lose from an adoption of neoliberal economic reforms.

Harvey alludes to a kind of false consciousness going on where people are blinded to their material economic interests by their religious beliefs, which could certainly be the case to some extent, but in many cases neoliberal ethics have become part of the sermons of various megachurches themselves. Thus if we have neoliberalism involving a return to the primitive accumulation during the rise of capitalism, it seems we also have a re-emergence of Weber's protestant ascetics espousing a neoliberal economic ethic. This means that neoliberalism is not all a top down imposition which uses religion to trick people out of their true interests as Harvey alludes to in his standard Marxist reading of the situation, but as being spurred on by religion itself from below. Thus the Christian Right electoral base was not simply concerned about conservative moral values which the neoliberals in the Reagan Republicans hooked their wagon to in order to be elected, but they were in many ways already in favour of neoliberal economics as a result of their religious beliefs. A study of the symmetry between neoliberal economic elites pushing from above, and evangelical Christians pushing for neoliberalism from below would be interesting to pursue, but it is doubtful this would interest Harvey.

Sticking with the issue of religion, the second interesting albeit underdeveloped issue that Harvey raises is the depoliticization of society. Harvey talks about how neoliberalism entails a preference for technocratic rule over democracy, and how this has stripped political institutions of their democratic and inclusive character. Harvey explains that the result of this depoliticization and creation of a disposable workforce is that people seek out social solidarity in other non-political institutions. The biggest one of these institutions of course being religion, but people have also sought to find new means of social solidarity in everything from gangs to NGOs. This concept is much better developed by Rose (1999) in his concept of the Third Sector, which is neither social nor political, but takes on a community aspect. Thus neoliberalism has the effect of privatizing politics itself, as social welfare is off loaded to religious charity, trade unions are replaced with criminal gangs, and in less developed countries the role of the developmental state is replaced by international development NGOs. As Rose focuses more on the social and political aspects of neoliberalism whereas Harvey focuses on the economic aspects, Rose can be read as a supplement to Harvey in this manner.

Where Harvey starts to run into trouble is when his vague definition of neoliberalism starts to cause confusion, especially in his chapter on China where neoliberalism is used as a synonym for capitalism. To find an entire chapter dedicated to China in a book on neoliberalism seems extremely strange, as China is one of the few states that managed to resist the global trend of neoliberalism. As Nonini (2008) points out, China has certainly been undertaking a process of capitalist reform, but in an explicitly non-neoliberal form in which the state plays an extremely strong part in intervening and directing the economy. There certainly is a process of accumulation by dispossession as Harvey points out, but the newly created capitalist class is still subservient (in the cases where they are actually different people) to the direction of the political elites in the Communist Party.

If we are to talk about neoliberalism, then we need to realize that there are different forms of capitalism, with neoliberalism being one of them. At the same time, we must realize that all transitions to capitalism are not the same, and thus can adopt different forms. As Pollin (2005) points out, China's approach to the transition to capitalism was radically different from that of Russia, who legitimately did take a neoliberal path under Yeltsin where the economy was turned over to the market wholesale with disastrous results. The cautious state-directed approach towards capitalist transition taken by China is clearly a very different method from the turn everything over to the market approach taken by Russia. Calling both of these approaches neoliberalism is messy and confusing as clearly they are substantially different.

On this point I believe Harvey is making a common mistake that opponents of not just neoliberalism, but of capitalism in general make. Harvey no doubt does not like much of the economic changes happening in China and most likely would prefer them to take another path that was less explicitly capitalist, but since the term neoliberalism conjures up much more negative connotations than the word capitalism, Harvey lumps China in with neoliberalism in an attempt to paint its transition to capitalism in a negative light. This lumping of all types of capitalism under the neoliberal umbrella is also often employed by anti-capitalist critics of the recently elected left-wing South American governments who have for the most part rejected neoliberalism, but not capitalism. Thus in an attempt to paint Presidents Chavez or Morales in a negative light for not dismantling all aspects of capitalism overnight, they are mislabelled as neoliberal as a kind of slur rather than a descriptive category. Harvey is guilty of this with regards to China, and would have been better off including a chapter on Russia under Yeltsin instead, which would have shown a dramatic example of both turning a state-managed economy over to the market, and a much more extreme form of accumulation by dispossession than is found in his Chinese examples. In Harvey's defense it may have seemed like neoliberalization was inevitable for China back in 2005, with the US constantly pressuring China to undergo reforms, but in light of the recent financial crisis, any movement towards neoliberalism by China is now completely out of the picture.

In addition to the chapter on China which is out of place, the last chapter entitled Freedom's Prospect is problematic as well. Here Harvey gives an optimistic account of how neoliberalism can be overcome from below and places his hope in a kind of reconstituted class consciousness where class struggle can resume and replace neoliberalism from below. However this seems hopelessly optimistic, as while neoliberalism certainly restored class power to the economic elites, it at the same time worked to undermine any sense of class cohesion for those below. How can class struggle be reconstituted in an era of de-unionization, of labour flexibilization, of outsourcing? Not to mention the depoliticizing effects which have led people to find social cohesion in religion or identity and cultural groups, rather than any kind of economic or political groups like class or party. Harvey, like Hardt and Negri in Multitude (2004) thinks the lack of democracy inherent in neoliberalism will be enough to form an oppositional movement which can displace neoliberalism from below.

Although Harvey's point about a lack of democracy under neoliberalism is certainly valid, this is not a concern for most people, on account of precisely the depoliticizing factors inherent in neoliberalism. People in our post-political neoliberal world find their identities in religion or culture, and are increasingly hostile to other religious or cultural groups, thus placing stark divisions between those who are supposed to resurrect the class struggle. Do evangelical Christians and Islamists want democracy, let alone oppose neoliberalism as Harvey claims they do? Not at all, and even if they did favour democracy, there is no way they would ever work together to bring it about. Furthermore most of these religious movements Harvey cites as possible sources of opposition are thoroughly neoliberal in their outlook, or at least profit greatly from it, and in no way offer any resistance. As we are witnessing now in the aftermath of the global financial crisis which has demonstrated the failure of neoliberalism--even to many of the elites who benefitted from it--any new form of capitalism is going to come from the top down, it will be a technocratic solution which will aim to abate the economic problems that are hurting everyone in the world right now, while doing as little as possible to reign in the power of economic elites. The biggest advocates of an alternative to the global neoliberal economy seem to be political leaders like Gordon Brown of the UK and newly elected Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, while grassroots activists in places like the United States are inexplicably aligning with die hard neoliberals to oppose bailouts, nationalizations, and the new found lust for government intervention in the economy.

David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism could work as an excellent introduction to the concept of neoliberalism for those unfamiliar with the term if it was just a little more brief. The chapter on China is completely out of place and the overly optimistic final chapter can be either viewed as an annoying statement of false hope or as somewhat irrelevant now that neoliberalism seems bound to be replaced or at least dramatically restructured in a technocratic manner. The book is useful in explaining why neoliberal practice has not always followed neoliberal theory, and the concept of accumulation by dispossession is certainly useful analytically. Harvey's focus on neoliberalism as political economy could be supplemented by Nikolas Rose's Powers of Freedom which focuses on neoliberalism in the social and political realm.



References

Hardt, M. & Negri. A. (2004). Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire. New York: Penguin Books.

Harvey, D. (2005). A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nonini, D. M. (2008). Is China Becoming Neoliberal? Critique of Anthropology 28(2). 145-176.

Pollin, R. (2005). Contours of Descent: U.S. Economic Fractures and the Landscape of Global Austerity (2nd ed.). London: Verso.

Rose, N. (1999). Powers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Posted by T at 7:47 PM

Labels: books, politics

A Primer on Neoliberalism - Global Issues

by Anup Shah This Page Last Updated Sunday, August 22, 2010
  • This page: http://www.globalissues.org/article/39/a-primer-on-neoliberalism

    Neoliberalism is promoted as the mechanism for global trade and investment supposedly for all nations to prosper and develop fairly and equitably. Margaret Thatcher's TINA acronym suggested that There Is No Alternative to this. But what is neoliberalism, anyway?

    This section attempts to provide an overview. First, a distinction is made between political and economic liberalism. Then, neoliberalism as an ideology for how to best structure economies is explained. Lastly, for important context, there is a quick historical overview as to how this ideology developed.

    This web page has the following sub-sections:

    1. Political versus Economic Liberalism
    2. Neoliberalism is...
    3. Brief overview of Neoliberalism's History: How did it develop?
      1. Free Markets Were Not Natural. They Were Enforced
      2. Rooted in Mercantilism
      3. Colonialism and Imperialism Needed To Succeed
      4. Going Global
    4. Going bust? The Global Financial Crisis Shakes Confidence
    5. More Information

    Political versus Economic Liberalism

    There is an important difference between liberal politics and liberal economics. But this distinction is usually not articulated in the mainstream.

    As summarized here by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia:

    "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 Right wing. Economic liberalism is different. Conservative politicians who say they hate "liberals" - meaning the political type - have no real problem with economic liberalism, including neoliberalism.

    - Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia, What is "Neo-Liberalism"?, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, January 1, 1997 (posted at CorpWatch.org)

    The web site, Political Compass, also highlights these differences very well.

    They show Left and Right as an economic scale, with Authoritarian and Libertarian making up the political scale, crossing the economic scale resulting in quadrants:

    © Political Compass

    In addition, they note that, "despite popular perceptions, the opposite of fascism is not communism but anarchism (ie liberal socialism), and that the opposite of communism (i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) is neo-liberalism (i.e. extreme deregulated economy)." This is made clear by another chart they have:

    Stalin falls in the authoritarian/left quadrant (extreme in both); Hitler in authoritarian(extreme)/right(economically almost centrist) quadrant; Thatcher authoritarian/right (extreme in both), Milton Friedman as neoliberal as Thatcher but more libertarian and Gandhi as left-center and partially libertarian

    A few other charts of theirs are of interest:

    1) The positions of some well-known political figures in the world

    Most political figures fall in the authoritarian camp. Only Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama out of those mentioned fall into libertarian/left quadrant (moderate in both). The rich country leaders mentioned (including in order of most authoritarian: George Bush, Ehud Olmert, Jose Maria Aznar, John Howard, Jacques Chiraq, Romano Prodi, Tony Blair, Stephen Harper, Angela Merket) are all in the neoliberal/authoritarian quadrant (and vary in how extreme neoliberal they are - George Bush the most, and Romano Prodi the least). In the communism/authoritarian quadrant are Robert Mugabe (more authoritarian than anyone else on the chart), Pope Bendict XVI and Mamoud Abbas (the latter two only slightly authoritarian and left).

    (In the above, it is interesting to note how most of the world's influential leaders, from the wealthiest and most poweful countries all fall into the area of authoritarian-right.)

    2) A look at English political parties and how they fair (even the "left" ones.)

    Both New Labour and Conservative fall in the neoliberal and authoritarian quadrant. The far-right British National Party is extreme authoritarian (bordering fascist), but centre-left on economic policy, Liberal Democrats are just about in the neo-liberal/libertarian quadrant, while Greens are in the middle of the left/libertarian quadrant

    3) It is also interesting to see how the three main British political parties have changed over time, as Political Compass shows:

    Labour/New Labour has shifted a lot to the authoritarian/right compared to the 1970s and 1980s (libertarian/left). The Conservatives have remained in the authoritarian/right, and the Liberal/Lib Dems have remained in the libertarian/right

    4) The last US elections (2004) show the political spectrum between John Kerry and George W. Bush was note that wide:

    George W. Bush was a lot further right than John Kerry, and to a lesser amount, more authoritarian. Both were well in the authoritarian/right quadrant. Others less known were Michael Peroutka (extreme right/authoritarian), Michael Badnarik (extreme right and slightly libertarian), David Cobb and Ralph Nader (both just inside the libertarian/left quadrant) and Walk Brown (far left and slightly libertarian)

    They also make a distinction about neo-conservatives and neoliberals:

    U.S. neo-conservatives, with their commitment to high military spending and the global assertion of national values, tend to be more authoritarian than hard right. By contrast, neo-liberals, opposed to such moral leadership and, more especially, the ensuing demands on the tax payer, belong to a further right but less authoritarian region. Paradoxically, the "free market", in neo-con parlance, also allows for the large-scale subsidy of the military-industrial complex, a considerable degree of corporate welfare, and protectionism when deemed in the national interest. These are viewed by neo-libs as impediments to the unfettered market forces that they champion.

    - About the Political Compass, January 6, 2004

    What the above highlights then, is that in some countries, discourse on these topics may appear to fit into left-right balance, but when looked at a more global scale, the range of discourse may be narrow. Economic issues such as globalization, especially as it affects third world countries as well as those in the first world, require a broader range of discussion.

    Back to top

    Neoliberalism is...

    Neoliberalism, in theory, is essentially about making trade between nations easier. It is about freer movement of goods, resources and enterprises in a bid to always find cheaper resources, to maximize profits and efficiency.

    To help accomplish this, neoliberalism requires the removal of various controls deemed as barriers to free trade, such as:

    The goal is to be able to to allow the free market to naturally balance itself via the pressures of market demands; a key to successful market-based economies.

    As summarized from What is "Neo-Liberalism"? A brief definition for activists by Elizabeth Martinez and Arnoldo Garcia from Corporate Watch, the main points of neoliberalism includes:

    Overlapping the above is also what Richard Robbins, in his book, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism (Allyn and Bacon, 1999), summarizes (p.100) about some of the guiding principles behind this ideology of neoliberalism:

    At the international level then we see that this additionally translates to:

    The underlying assumption then is that the free markets are a good thing. They may well be, but unfortunately, reality seems different from theory. For many economists who believe in it strongly the ideology almost takes on the form of a theology. However, less discussed is the the issue of power and how that can seriously affect, influence and manipulate trade for certain interests. One would then need to ask if free trade is really possible.

    From a power perspective, "free" trade in reality is seen by many around the world as a continuation of those old policies of plunder, whether it is intended to be or not. However, we do not usually hear such discussions in the mainstream media, even though thousands have protested around the world for decades.

    Today then, neoliberal policies are seeing positives and negatives. Under free enterprise, there have been many innovative products. Growth and development for some have been immense. Unfortunately, for most people in the world there has been an increase in poverty and the innovation and growth has not been designed to meet immediate needs for many of the world's people. Global inequalities on various indicators are sharp. For example,

    Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank Chief Economist (1997 to 2000), Nobel Laureate in Economics and now strong opponent of the ideology pushed by the IMF and of the current forms of globalization, notes that economic globalization in its current form risks exacerbating poverty and increasing violence if not checked, because it is impossible to separate economic issues from social and political issues.

    And as J.W. Smith has argued:

    One cannot separate economics, political science, and history. Politics is the control of the economy. History, when accurately and fully recorded, is that story. In most textbooks and classrooms, not only are these three fields of study separated, but they are further compartmentalized into separate subfields, obscuring the close interconnections between them.

    - J.W. Smith, The World's Wasted Wealth 2, (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994), p. 22.

    Issues such as the criticisms of "free" trade, of protests around the world, and many others angles are discussed on this section's subsequent pages.

    The history of neoliberalism and how it has come about is worth looking at first, however, to get some crucial context, and to understand why so many people around the world criticize it.

    Back to top

    Brief overview of Neoliberalism's History: How did it develop?

    Free Markets Were Not Natural. They Were Enforced

    The modern system of free trade, free enterprise and market-based economies, actually emerged around 200 years ago, as one of the main engines of development for the Industrial Revolution.

    In 1776, British economist Adam Smith published his book, The Wealth of Nations. Adam Smith, who some regard as the father of modern free market capitalism and this very influential book, suggested that for maximum efficiency, all forms of government interventions in economic issues should be removed and that there should be no restrictions or tariffs on manufacturing and commerce within a nation for it to develop.

    For this to work, social traditions had to be transformed. Free markets were not inevitable, naturally occurring processes. They had to be forced upon people. John Gray, professor of European thought at the London School of Economics, a prominent conservative political thinker and an influence on Margaret Thatcher and the New Right in Britain in the 1980s, notes:

    Mid-nineteenth century England was the subject of a far-reaching experiment in social engineering. Its objective was to free economic life from social and political control and it did so by constructing a new institution, the free market, and by breaking up the more socially rooted markets that had existed in England for centuries. The free market created a new type of economy in which prices of all goods, including labour, changed without regard to their effects on society. In the past economic life had been constrained by the need to maintain social cohesion. It was conducted in social markets - markets that were embedded in society and subject to many kinds of regulation and restraint. The goal of the experiment that was attempted in mid-Victorian England was to demolish these social markets, and replace them by deregulated markets that operated independently of social needs. The rupture in England's economic life produced by the creation of the free market has been called the Great Transformation.

    - John Gray, False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, (The New Press, 1998), p.1

    A detailed insight into this process of transformation is revealed by Michael Perelman, Professor of Economics at California State University. In his book The Invention of Capitalism (Duke University Press, 2000), he details how peasants did not willingly abandon their self-sufficient lifestyle to go work in factories.

    Rooted in Mercantilism

    Adam Smith's work did, however, expose the previous fraud that was the mercantilist system, which enriched the imperial powers at the expense of others. This mercantilism had its roots in the Middle and Dark Ages of Europe, many hundreds of years earlier and also parallels various methods used by empires throughout history (including today) to control their peripheries and appropriate wealth accordingly. Furthermore, as J.W. Smith argues, even though it is claimed to be Adam Smith free trade, neoliberalism was and is mercantilism dressed up with more friendly rhetoric, while the reality remains the same as the mercantilist processes over the last several hundred years:

    The powerful throughout the past centuries not only claimed an excessive share of the wealth of nature which was properly shared by all within the community, through the unequal trades of mercantilism they claimed an excessive share of the wealth on the periphery of their trading empires. Adam Smith describes mercantilism for us:

    [Mercantilism's] ultimate object… is always the same, to enrich the country [city or state] by an advantageous balance of trade. It discourages the exportation of the materials of manufacture [tools and raw material], and the instruments of trade, in order to give our own workmen an advantage, and to enable them to undersell those of other nations [cities] in all foreign markets: and by restraining, in this manner, the exportation of a few commodities of no great price, it proposes to occasion a much greater and more valuable exportation of others. It encourages the importation of the materials of manufacture, in order that our own people may be enabled to work them up more cheaply, and thereby prevent a greater and more valuable importation of the manufactured commodities.

    William Appleman Williams describes mercantilism at its zenith: "The world was defined as known and finite, a principle agreed upon by science and theology. Hence the chief way for a nation to promote or achieve its own wealth and happiness was to take them away from some other country."

    When the injustice of mercantilism was understood, it became too embarrassing and was replaced by the supposedly just Adam Smith free trade. But free trade as practiced by Adam Smith neo-mercantilists was far from fair trade. Adam Smith unequal free trade is little more than a philosophy for the continued subtle monopolization of the wealth-producing-process, largely through continued privatization of the commons of both an internal economy and the economies of weak nations on the periphery of trading empires. So long as weak nations could be forced to accept the unequal trades of Adam Smith free trade, they would be handing their wealth to the imperial-centers-of-capital of their own free will. In short, Adam Smith free trade, as established by neo-mercantilists, was only mercantilism hiding under the cover of free trade.

    - J.W. Smith, Cooperative Capitalism; A Blueprint for Global Peace and Prosperity, (Quality Books, Inc, 2003), pp.4-5

    Colonialism and Imperialism Needed To Succeed

    Free trade formed the basis of free enterprise for capitalists and up until the Great Depression of the 1930s was the primary economic theory followed in the United States and Britain. But from a global perspective, this free trade was accompanied by geopolitics making it look more like mercantilism. For both these nations (as well as others) to succeeded and remain competitive in the international arena, they had a strong foundation of imperialism, colonialism and subjugation of others in order to have access to the resources required to produce such vast wealth. As J.W. Smith notes above, this was hardly the free trade that Adam Smith suggested and it seemed like a continuation of mercantilist policies.

    However, even during its prevalent times before the Second World War, neoliberalism had already started to show signs of increasing disparities between rich and poor.

    Because of the Great Depression in the 1930s, an economist, John Maynard Keynes, suggested that regulation and government intervention was actually needed in order to provide more equity in development. This led to the "Keynesian" model of development and after World War II formed the foundation for the rebuilding of the U.S-European-centered international economic system. The Marshall Plan for Europe helped reconstruct it and the European nations saw the benefits of social provisions such as health, education and so on, as did the U.S. under President Roosevelt's New Deal.

    In fact, the Bretton Woods Institutions (the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank) were actually designed with Keynesian policies in mind; to help provide international regulation and control of capital. As Susan George notes, "when these institutions were created at Bretton Woods in 1944, their mandate was to help prevent future conflicts by lending for reconstruction and development and by smoothing out temporary balance of payments problems. They had no control over individual government's economic decisions nor did their mandate include a license to intervene in national policy." This is very different from what they are doing today.

    In 1945 or 1950, if you had seriously proposed any of the ideas and policies in today's standard neo-liberal toolkit, you would have been laughed off the stage at or sent off to the insane asylum. At least in the Western countries, at that time, everyone was a Keynesian, a social democrat or a social-Christian democrat or some shade of Marxist. The idea that the market should be allowed to make major social and political decisions; the idea that the State should voluntarily reduce its role in the economy, or that corporations should be given total freedom, that trade unions should be curbed and citizens given much less rather than more social protection - such ideas were utterly foreign to the spirit of the time. Even if someone actually agreed with these ideas, he or she would have hesitated to take such a position in public and would have had a hard time finding an audience.

    - Susan George, A Short History of Neoliberalism: Twenty Years of Elite Economics and Emerging Opportunities for Structural Change, Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World, Bangkok, 24-26 March 1999

    However, as elites and corporations saw their profits diminish with this equalizing effect, economic liberalism was revived, hence the term "neoliberalism". Except, that this new form was not just limited to national boundaries, but instead was to apply to international economics as well. Starting from the University of Chicago with the philosopher-economist Friedrich von Hayek and his students such as Milton Friedman, the ideology of neoliberalism was pushed very thoroughly around the world.

    Even before this though, there were indications that the world economic order was headed this way: the majority of wars throughout history have had economics, trade and resources at their core. The want for access to cheap resources to continue creating vast wealth and power allowed the imperial empires to justify military action, imperialism and colonialism in the name of "national interests", "national security", "humanitarian" intervention and so on. In fact, as J.W. Smith notes:

    The wealth of the ancient city-states of Venice and Genoa was based on their powerful navies, and treaties with other great powers to control trade. This evolved into nations designing their trade policies to intercept the wealth of others (mercantilism). Occasionally one powerful country would overwhelm another through interception of its wealth though a trade war, covert war, or hot war; but the weaker, less developed countries usually lose in these exchanges. It is the military power of the more developed countries that permits them to dictate the terms of trade and maintain unequal relationships.

    - J.W. Smith, The World's Wasted Wealth 2, (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994), p. 120.

    As European and American economies grew, they needed to continue expansion to maintain the high standards of living that some elites were attaining in those days. This required holding on to, and expanding colonial territories in order to gain further access to the raw materials and resources, as well exploiting cheap labor. Those who resisted were often met with brutal repression or military interventions. This is not a controversial perception. Even U.S. President Woodrow Wilson recognized this in the early part of the 20th century:

    Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.

    - Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, 1919, Quoted by Noam Chomsky, On Power and Ideology, (South End Press, 1990), p.14.

    Richard Robbins, Professor of Anthropology and author of Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism is also worth quoting at length:

    The Great Global Depression of 1873 that lasted essentially until 1895 was the first great manifestation of the capitalist business crisis. The depression was not the first economic crisis [as there had been many for thousands of years] but the financial collapse of 1873 revealed the degree of global economic integration, and how economic events in one part of the globe could reverberate in others.…

    The Depression of 1873 revealed another big problem with capitalist expansion and perpetual growth: it can continue only as long as there is a ready supply of raw materials and an increasing demand for goods, along with ways to invest profits and capital. Given this situation, if you were an American or European investor in 1873, where would you look for economic expansion?

    The obvious answer was to expand European and American power overseas, particularly into areas that remained relatively untouched by capitalist expansion - Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. Colonialism had become, in fact, a recognized solution to the need to expand markets, increase opportunities for investors, and ensure the supply of raw material. Cecil Rhodes, one of the great figures of England's colonization of Africa, recognized the importance of overseas expansion for maintaining peace at home. In 1895 Rhodes said:

    I was in the East End of London yesterday and attended a meeting of the unemployed. I listened to the wild speeches, which were just a cry for "bread", "bread," and on my way home I pondered over the scene and I became more than ever convinced of the importance of imperialism.… My cherished idea is a solution for the social problem, i.e., in order to save the 40,000,000 inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands for settling the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced in the factories and mines. The Empire, as I have always said, is a bread and butter question. If you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialist.

    As a result of this cry for imperialist expansion, people all over the world were converted into producers of export crops as millions of subsistence farmers were forced to become wage laborers producing for the market and required to purchase from European and American merchants and industrialists, rather than supply for themselves, their basic needs.

    - Richard H. Robbins, Global Problems and the Culture of Capitalism, (Allyn and Bacon), pp. 93-94

    World War I was, in effect, a resource war as Imperial centers battled over themselves for control of the rest of the world. World War II was another such battle, perhaps the ultimate one. However, the former imperial nations realized that to fight like this is not the way, and became more cooperative instead.

    Unfortunately, that cooperation was not for all the world's interests primarily, but their own. The Soviet attempt of an independent path to development (flawed that it was, because of its centralized, paranoid and totalitarian perspectives), was a threat to these centers of capital because their own colonies might "get the wrong idea" and also try for an independent path to their development.

    Because World War II left the empires weak, the colonized countries started to break free. In some places, where countries had the potential to bring more democratic processes into place and maybe even provide an example for their neighbors to follow it threatened multinational corporations and their imperial (or former imperial) states (for example, by reducing access to cheap resources). As a result, their influence, power and control was also threatened. Often then, military actions were sanctioned. To the home populations, the fear of communism was touted, even if it was not the case, in order to gain support.

    … you have to sell [intervention or other military actions] in such a way as to create the misimpression that it is the Soviet Union the you are fighting…

    - Professor Samuel Huntingdon, Harvard University, Quoted by Noam Chomsky in Latin America: From Colonization to Globalization, (Ocean Press, 1999), p.18)

    The net effect was that everyone fell into line, as if it were, allowing a form of globalization that suited the big businesses and elite classes mainly of the former imperial powers. (Hence, there is no surprise that some of the main World War II rivals, USA, Germany and Japan as well as other European nations are so prosperous, while the former colonial countries are still so poor; the economic booms of those wealthy nations have been at the expense of most people around the world.) Thus, to ensure this unequal success, power, and advantage globalization was backed up with military might (and still is).

    Hence, even with what seemed like the end of imperialism and colonialism at the end of World War II, and the promotion of Adam Smith free trade and free markets, mercantilist policies still continued. (Adam Smith exposed the previous system as mercantilist and unjust. He then proposed free market capitalism as the alternative. Yet, a reading of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations would reveal that today is a far cry from the free market capitalism he suggested, and instead could still be considered monopoly capitalism, or the age-old mercantilism that he had exposed! More about this in the next section on this site.) And so, a belief system had to accompany the political objectives:

    When the blatant injustices of mercantilist imperialism became too embarrassing, a belief system was imposed that mercantilism had been abandoned and true free trade was in place. In reality the same wealth confiscation went on, deeply buried within complex systems of monopolies and unequal trade hiding under the cover of free trade. Many explanations were given for wars between the imperial nations when there was really one common thread: "Who will control resources and trade and the wealth produced through inequalities in trade?" All this is proven by the inequalities of trade siphoning the world's wealth to imperial centers of capital today just as they did when the secret of plunder by trade was learned centuries ago. The battles over the world's wealth have only kept hiding behind different belief systems each time the secrets of laying claim to the wealth of others' have been exposed.

    - J.W. Smith, Economic Democracy; The Political Struggle for the 21st Century, (M.E. Sharpe, 2000) p.126

    Going Global

    The Reagan and Thatcher era in particular, saw neoliberalism pushed to most parts of the globe, almost demonizing anything that was publicly owned, encouraging the privatization of anything it could, using military interventions if needed. Structural Adjustment policies were used to open up economies of poorer countries so that big businesses from the rich countries could own or access many resources cheaply.

    Lori Wallach, Director of Global Trade Watch, also describes in a video clip (4:30 minutes, transcript) how even the term free "trade" is misleading, for the free trade agenda pushed through the World Trade Organization includes many non-trade issues, such that trade is just one small part:

    Lori Wallach, Free Trade-The Price Paid (Part One), April 13, 2005, © Big Picture TV

    The belief in free markets (or the version being promoted) was very ideological:

    So, from a small, unpopular sect with virtually no influence, neo-liberalism has become the major world religion with its dogmatic doctrine, its priesthood, its law-giving institutions and perhaps most important of all, its hell for heathen and sinners who dare to contest the revealed truth. Oskar Lafontaine, the ex-German Finance Minister who the Financial Times called an "unreconstructed Keynesian" has just been consigned to that hell because he dared to propose higher taxes on corporations and tax cuts for ordinary and less well-off families.

    1979, the year Margaret Thatcher came to power and undertook the neo-liberal revolution in Britain. The Iron Lady was herself a disciple of Friedrich von Hayek, she was a social Darwinist and had no qualms about expressing her convictions. She was well known for justifying her program with the single word TINA, short for There Is No Alternative. The central value of Thatcher's doctrine and of neo-liberalism itself is the notion of competition - competition between nations, regions, firms and of course between individuals. Competition is central because it separates the sheep from the goats, the men from the boys, the fit from the unfit. It is supposed to allocate all resources, whether physical, natural, human or financial with the greatest possible efficiency.

    In sharp contrast, the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu ended his Tao-te Ching with these words: "Above all, do not compete". The only actors in the neo-liberal world who seem to have taken his advice are the largest actors of all, the Transnational Corporations. The principle of competition scarcely applies to them; they prefer to practice what we could call Alliance Capitalism.

    - Susan George, A Short History of Neoliberalism: Twenty Years of Elite Economics and Emerging Opportunities for Structural Change, Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalising World, Bangkok, 24-26 March 1999

    As former World Bank Chief Economist Josepth Stiglitz notes, it is a simplistic ideology which most developed nations have resisted themselves:

    The Washington Consensus policies, however, were based on a simplistic model of the market economy, the competitive equilibrium model, in which Adam Smith's invisible hand works, and works perfectly. Because in this model there is no need for government - that is, free, unfettered, "liberal" markets work perfectly - the Washington Consensus policies are sometimes referred to as "neo-liberal," based on "market fundamentalism," a resuscitation of the laissez-faire policies that were popular in some circles in the nineteenth century. In the aftermath of the Great Depression and the recognition of other failings of the market system, from massive inequality to unlivable cities marred by pollution and decay, these free market policies have been widely rejected in the more advanced industrial countries, though within these countries there remains an active debate about the appropriate balance between government and markets.

    - Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, (Allen Lane/Penguin Books, 2002), p.74

    Activist and academic Raj Patel explains that prices do not accurately reflect the value of commodities due to so many externalities (a $4 hamburger should cost $200 for example if some environmental aspects are factored in, for example), and also notes that various leading proponents of neoliberalism are now admitting it too, in the wake of the financial crash in 2008. Furthermore, markets aren't separate from social and political contexts in which they function, yet, business leaders and governments were all too willing to go for the simpler soundbites:

    The problem with the Efficient Markets Hypothesis is that it doesn't work. If it were true, then there'd be no incentive to invest in research because the market would, by magic, have beaten you to it. Economists Sanford Grossman and Joseph Stiglitz demonstrated this in 1980, and hundreds of subsequent studies have pointed out quite how unrealistic the hypothesis is, some of the most influential of which were written by Eugene Fama himself [who first formulated the idea as a a Ph.D. student in the University of Chicago Business School in the 1960s]. Markets can behave irrationally-investors can herd behind a stock, pushing its value up in ways entirely unrelated to the stock being traded.

    Despite ample economic evidence to suggest it was false, the idea of efficient markets ran riot through governments.

    - Raj Patel, Flaw PDF formatted document, The Value of Nothing, (Picador, 2010), pp.10-11, 12-13

    Since the Cold War has ended, it is almost no surprise that today's globalization has come in the form we see it - that is where it would have been had the Cold War not got "in the way". The World Wars were about rival powers fighting amongst themselves to the spoils of the rest of the world; maintaining their empires and influence over the terms of world trade, commerce and, ultimately, power.

    Throughout the Cold War, we contained a global threat to market democracies: now we should seek to enlarge their reach.

    - Anthony Lake, National Security adviser, 1990, quoted from Noam Chomsky, World Orders Old and New, (Columbia University Press, 1996), p.71.

    John Gray, mentioned above, notes that the same processes to force the peasantry off their lands and into waged labor, and to socially engineer a transformation to free markets is also taking place today in the third world:

    The achievement of a similar transformation [as in mid-nineteenth century England] is the overriding objective today of transnational organizations such as the World Trade Organisation, the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In advancing this revolutionary project they are following the lead of the world's last great Enlightenment regime, the United States. The thinkers of the Enlightenment, such as Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx never doubted that the future for every nation in the world was to accept some version of western institutions and values. A diversity of cultures was not a permanent condition of human life. It was a stage on the way to a universal civilization, in which the varied traditions and culture of the past were superseded by a new, universal community founded on reason.

    - John Gray, False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, (The New Press, 1998), pp.1-2

    Gray also notes how this western view of the world is not necessarily compatible with the views of other cultures and this imposition for a western view of civilization may not be accepted by everyone. Ironically then, using terms like "Enlightenment", "freedom", "liberty", etc, which is common in such discourse, as Gray notes, results in conformity, almost totalitarian in nature.

    Back to top

    Going bust? The Global Financial Crisis Shakes Confidence

    Around mid-2008 a financial crisis, starting in the US, spread around the world into a global financial crisis, and then into a more general economic crisis, which, as of writing this, the world has still not recovered from.

    The crisis has been so severe, criticisms of market fundamentalism and neoliberalism are more widespread than before.

    The Value of Nothing, Raj Patel, July 28, 2010

    Raj Patel argues that the markets in their current shape have created a convoluted idea of value; "value meals" are cheap but unhealthy whereas fruit and veg are often more expensive; rainforests are hardly valued whereas felling trees adds to the economy.

    Flawed assumptions about the underlying economic systems contributed to this problem and had been building up for a long time, the current financial crisis being one of its eventualities.

    This problem could have been averted (in theory) as people had been pointing to these issues for decades. Yet, of course, during periods of boom no-one (let alone the financial institutions and their supporting ideologues and politicians largely believed to be responsible for the bulk of the problems) would want to hear of caution and even thoughts of the kind of regulation that many are now advocating. To suggest anything would be anti-capitalism or socialism or some other label that could effectively shut up even the most prominent of economists raising concerns.

    Of course, the irony that those same institutions would now themselves agree that those "anti-capitalist" regulations are required is of course barely noted. Such options now being considered are not anti-capitalist. However, they could be described as more regulatory or managed rather than completely free or laissez faire capitalism, which critics of regulation have often preferred. But a regulatory capitalist economy is very different to a state-based command economy, the style of which the Soviet Union was known for. The points is that there are various forms of capitalism, not just the black-and-white capitalism and communism. And at the same time, the most extreme forms of capitalism can also lead to the bigger bubbles and the bigger busts.

    In that context, the financial crisis, as severe as it was, led to key architects of the system admitting to flaws in key aspects of the ideology.

    At the end of 2008, Alan Greenspan was summoned to the U.S. Congress to testify about the financial crisis. His tenure at the Federal Reserve had been long and lauded, and Congress wanted to know what had gone wrong. Henry Waxman questioned him:

    1. Greenspan:

      I found a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works, so to speak.

    2. Waxman:

      In other words, you found that your view of the world, your ideology, was not right, it was not working.

    3. Greenspan:

      Precisely. That is precisely the reason I was shocked, because I had been going for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was working exceptionally well.

    [Greenspan's flaw] warped his view about how the world was organized, about the sociology of the market. And Greenspan is not alone. Larry Summers, the president's senior economic advisor, has had to come to terms with a similar error-his view that the market was inherently self-stabilizing has been "dealt a fatal blow." Hank Paulson, Bush's treasury secretary, has shrugged his shoulders with similar resignation. Even Jim Cramer from CNBC's Mad Money admitted defeat: "The only guy who really called this right was Karl Marx." One after the other, the celebrants of the free market are finding themselves, to use the language of the market, corrected.

    - Raj Patel, Flaw PDF formatted document, The Value of Nothing, (Picador, 2010), pp.4, 6-7

    Quoting Stiglitz again, he captures the sentiments of a number of people:

    We had become accustomed to the hypocrisy. The banks reject any suggestion they should face regulation, rebuff any move towards anti-trust measures - yet when trouble strikes, all of a sudden they demand state intervention: they must be bailed out; they are too big, too important to be allowed to fail.

    …

    America's financial system failed in its two crucial responsibilities: managing risk and allocating capital. The industry as a whole has not been doing what it should be doing … and it must now face change in its regulatory structures. Regrettably, many of the worst elements of the US financial system … were exported to the rest of the world.

    - Joseph Stiglitz, The fruit of hypocrisy; Dishonesty in the finance sector dragged us here, and Washington looks ill-equipped to guide us out, The Guardian, September 16, 2008

    Some of these regulatory measures have been easy to get around for various reasons. Some reasons for weak regulation that entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth describes include that regulators

    Given its crucial role, it is extremely important to invest in it too, Shuttleworth stresses.

    However, this crisis wasted almost a generation of talent:

    It was all done in the name of innovation, and any regulatory initiative was fought away with claims that it would suppress that innovation. They were innovating, all right, but not in ways that made the economy stronger. Some of America's best and brightest were devoting their talents to getting around standards and regulations designed to ensure the efficiency of the economy and the safety of the banking system. Unfortunately, they were far too successful, and we are all - homeowners, workers, investors, taxpayers - paying the price.

    - Joseph Stiglitz, The fruit of hypocrisy; Dishonesty in the finance sector dragged us here, and Washington looks ill-equipped to guide us out, The Guardian, September 16, 2008

    Paul Krugman also notes the wasted talent, at the expense of other areas in much need:

    How much has our nation's future been damaged by the magnetic pull of quick personal wealth, which for years has drawn many of our best and brightest young people into investment banking, at the expense of science, public service and just about everything else?

    - Paul Krugman, The Madoff Economy, New York Times, Opinion, December 19, 2008

    The wasted capital, labor and resources all add up.

    British economist John Maynard Keynes, is considered one of the most influential economists of the 20th century and one of the fathers of modern macroeconomics. He advocated an interventionist form of government policy believing markets left to their own measure (i.e. completely "freed") could be destructive leading to cycles of recessions, depressions and booms. To mitigate against the worst effects of these cycles, he supported the idea that governments could use various fiscal and monetary measures. His ideas helped rebuild after World War II, until the 1970s when his ideas were abandoned for freer market systems.

    Keynes' biographer, professor Robert Skidelsky, argues that free markets have undermined democracy and led to this crisis in the first place:

    What creates a crisis of the kind that now engulfs us is not economics but politics. The triumph of the global "free" market, which has dominated the world over the last three decades has been a political triumph.

    It has reflected the dominance of those who believe that governments (for which read the views and interests of ordinary people) should be kept away from the levers of power, and that the tiny minority who control and benefit most from the economic process are the only people competent to direct it.

    This band of greedy oligarchs have used their economic power to persuade themselves and most others that we will all be better off if they are in no way restrained-and if they cannot persuade, they have used that same economic power to override any opposition. The economic arguments in favor of free markets are no more than a fig leaf for this self-serving doctrine of self-aggrandizement.

    - Bryan Gould, Who voted for the markets? The economic crisis makes it plain: we surrendered power to wealthy elites and fatally undermined democracy, The Guardian, November 26, 2008

    Furthermore, he argues that the democratic process has been abused and manipulated to allow a concentration of power that is actually against the idea of free markets and real capitalism:

    The uncomfortable truth is that democracy and free markets are incompatible. The whole point of democratic government is that it uses the legitimacy of the democratic mandate to diffuse power throughout society rather than allow it to accumulate-as any player of Monopoly understands-in just a few hands. It deliberately uses the political power of the majority to offset what would otherwise be the overwhelming economic power of the dominant market players.

    If governments accept, as they have done, that the "free" market cannot be challenged, they abandon, in effect, their whole raison d'etre. Democracy is then merely a sham. … No amount of cosmetic tinkering at the margins will conceal the fact that power has passed to that handful of people who control the global economy.

    - Bryan Gould, Who voted for the markets? The economic crisis makes it plain: we surrendered power to wealthy elites and fatally undermined democracy, The Guardian, November 26, 2008

    Despite Keynesian economics getting a bad press from free market advocates for many years, many are now turning to his policies and ideas to help weather the economic crisis.

    We are all Keynesians now. Even the right in the United States has joined the Keynesian camp with unbridled enthusiasm and on a scale that at one time would have been truly unimaginable.

    … after having been left in the wilderness, almost shunned, for more than three decades … what is happening now is a triumph of reason and evidence over ideology and interests.

    Economic theory has long explained why unfettered markets were not self-correcting, why regulation was needed, why there was an important role for government to play in the economy. But many, especially people working in the financial markets, pushed a type of "market fundamentalism." The misguided policies that resulted - pushed by, among others, some members of President-elect Barack Obama's economic team - had earlier inflicted enormous costs on developing countries. The moment of enlightenment came only when those policies also began inflicting costs on the US and other advanced industrial countries.

    …

    The neo-liberal push for deregulation served some interests well. Financial markets did well through capital market liberalization. Enabling America to sell its risky financial products and engage in speculation all over the world may have served its firms well, even if they imposed large costs on others.

    Today, the risk is that the new Keynesian doctrines will be used and abused to serve some of the same interests.

    - Joseph Stiglitz, Getting bang for your buck, The Guardian, December 5, 2008

    Some of the world's top financiers and officials are reluctantly accepting that the version of capitalism that has long favored them may not be good for everyone.

    Stiglitz observed this remarkable resignation at the annual Davos forum, usually a meeting place of rich world leaders and the corporate elite, who usually together reassert ways to go full steam ahead with a form of corporate globalization that has benefited those at the top. This time, however, Stiglitz noted that

    [There was a] striking … loss of faith in markets. In a widely attended brainstorming session at which participants were asked what single failure accounted for the crisis, there was a resounding answer: the belief that markets were self-correcting.

    The so-called "efficient markets" model, which holds that prices fully and efficiently reflect all available information, also came in for a trashing. So did inflation targeting: the excessive focus on inflation had diverted attention from the more fundamental question of financial stability. Central bankers' belief that controlling inflation was necessary and almost sufficient for growth and prosperity had never been based on sound economic theory.

    … no one from either the Bush or Obama administrations attempted to defend American-style free-wheeling capitalism.… Most American financial leaders seemed too embarrassed to make an appearance. Perhaps their absence made it easier for those who did attend to vent their anger. Labor leaders working for the … business community were particularly angry at the financial community's lack of remorse. A call for the repayment of past bonuses was received with applause.

    - Joseph Stiglitz, Fear and loathing in Davos, The Guardian, February 6, 2009

    Some at the top, however, have tried to play the role of victim:

    Indeed, some American financiers were especially harshly criticized for seeming to take the position that they, too, were victims … and it seemed particularly galling that they were continuing to hold a gun to the heads of governments, demanding massive bailouts and threatening economic collapse otherwise. Money was flowing to those who had caused the problem, rather than to the victims.

    Worse still, much of the money flowing into the banks to recapitalize them so that they could resume lending has been flowing out in the form of bonus payments and dividends.

    - Joseph Stiglitz, Fear and loathing in Davos, The Guardian, February 6, 2009

    And as much as this crisis affects wealthier nations, the poorest will suffer most in the long run:

    … This crisis raises fundamental questions about globalization, which was supposed to help diffuse risk. Instead, it has enabled America's failures to spread around the world, like a contagious disease. Still, the worry at Davos was that there would be a retreat from even our flawed globalization, and that poor countries would suffer the most.

    But the playing field has always been uneven. If developing countries can't compete with America's subsidies and guarantees, how could any developing country defend to its citizens the idea of opening itself even more to America's highly subsidized banks? At least for the moment, financial market liberalization seems to be dead.

    - Joseph Stiglitz, Fear and loathing in Davos, The Guardian, February 6, 2009

    In effect, the globalization project, an ideal that sounded appealing for many around the world, was flawed by politics and greed; the inter-connectedness it created meant that as any flaws revealed themselves, the unraveling of such a system would have far greater reach and consequences, especially upon people who had nothing to do with its creation in the first place.

    Back to top

    More Information

    The above may seem long, but many volumes could be written to expand on the above themes. Until I can get to do something like that, the following are links to some useful resources to help understand neoliberalism and its historical and current context:

    Back to top

    Where next?

    Related articles

    1. Global Financial Crisis
    2. A Primer on Neoliberalism
    3. Criticisms of Current Forms of Free Trade
    4. The WTO and Free Trade
    5. WTO Doha "Development" Trade Round Collapse, 2006
    6. Deregulation or Protectionism?
    7. Some Regional Free Trade Agreements
    8. The Mainstream Media and Free Trade
    9. Public Protests Around The World
    10. WTO Protests in Seattle, 1999

    See more related articles

    Anup Shah, A Primer on Neoliberalism, Global Issues, Updated: August 22, 2010

    Alternatively, copy/paste the following MLA citation format for this page:

    Shah, Anup. "A Primer on Neoliberalism." Global Issues. 22 Aug. 2010. Web. 29 Aug. 2015. <http://www.globalissues.org/article/39/a-primer-on-neoliberalism>.

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