Normally I post only essays that I have written on my blog, but this deserves to be an exception to the rule. This is a true Must-Watch. But before watching the video below, please take a few minutes to read my own analysis of neoliberalism, and what it means for humanity and the earth.
Naomi Klein clarifies the history of neoliberalism and the current state of the world in a few short minutes.
100,000 protests a year in China now, protests across Europe and North America, rising popular discontent with growing inequality and poverty, increasing cuts to social programs, and neoliberal austerity measures…. What is happening, and why? Watch the video below. But first, read this.
In a nutshell, neoliberalism is the reigning global ideological orthodoxy which puts corporate profits, and corporate powers, above people, the environment, and also democracy. It is a disaster for everyone but the super-rich global investor class. It needs to be rejected, firmly and categorically, as many nations have begun to do. But first, it needs to be understood. Most people do not yet understand it, and they need to, because they are being devoured by it, and their countries and world are being devoured by it.
The advocates of the new global ideological hegemony of neoliberalism claim that it lowers debts and deficits, creates strong economies, and all boats rise on the rising tide – the traditional trickle down theory. But the reality is precisely the opposite.
Neoliberalism has created economic chaos and instability, bubbles and crashes, wild speculation, the virtual gutting of main street, bloated debts, full-scale corporate welfare, and bankrupting “bailouts” and “stimulus” packages, which are giant acts of theft from the public purse, and gigantic gifts to the robber baron class of the corporate raiders, while the people struggle and are forced to face “austerity measures”.
Neoliberalism means gigantic tax breaks and public subsidies for large corporations and the rich, with austerity programs for the other 99% of the people, as health care, education, and other programs which help the people, are slashed and burned to the ground, ripping the safety net out from underneath them, and as a result, creating more desperate, and hence, more pliable and obedient workers, and the privatization of virtually everything, meaning, the corporate take-over of everything, while destroying the economy, plundering the treasuries and the nations of the world, creating soaring unemployment, poverty and inequality, an explosion of slums, the return of walled communities, just as in the medieval era, and creating ecological disaster as well as rising social instability; and all the while, deregulating big business, and giving the corporations and the super-rich the freedom to do whatever they like, and to be above the law – but, with increasingly draconian and often literally fascist means of repression for the people, in order to keep the people under control during the increasingly precarious, poor and insecure conditions under which they are forced to live.
It is true that neoliberalism has created a large middle class in China, India and Latin America, but it has done so at tremendous cost. Firstly, there is tremendous devastation to the environment from this economic model, and the way in which wealth is being created – all questions of the distribution of wealth aside.
Secondly, it has spread the social disease of materialism and consumerism to enlist more people around the world into its ranks. The culture and lifestyle of materialism and consumerism is not sustainable for North America and Europe, and it is not sustainable anywhere else in the world. We have to be absolutely clear about that.
Secondly, while corporate-driven neoliberalism is sowing environmental cataclysm, it is also sowing wild, historically unprecedented, and rapidly growing inequality. Yes, there is now a large middle class in China, India, Latin America, parts of Africa, and much of Asia and Eastern Europe, but most of the wealth being generated under the neolibeal model is going to the top 1% – exactly as it was intended to do – while the bottom 80-90% of the people live in increasing insecurity, or are actively being pushed down, further into poverty.
So the entire economic and political model is a social, environmental, and economic disaster, with only the super-rich, and to some small extent, in some places, a small percentage of the people who are the affluent middle class, who benefit.
Meanwhile, the very policies of neoliberalism have created a flight of production and profits out of the richest nations in North America and Europe, as manufacturing is sent to low-wage, low-regulation regions. This has led to soaring unemployment, poverty and inequality in North America and Europe, and a virtual elimination, or evisceration, of the middle class on two continents. And the people in these countries are understandably very angry about this, and social unrest is rising rapidly, and coming to a boiling point.
Worst of all, neoliberalism is accelerating the corporate take-over of democracy, and the destruction of democracy, as large corporations grant themselves, through their political proxies and lapdogs, powers that supersede, transcend, and effectively over-rule and nullify, the powers of parliaments and democratically elected governments.
Neoliberalism is, in short, the creation, not just of extreme inequality, along with social and economic chaos and instability, and extreme environmental devastation, but also, the creation of a new empire, and a new oligarchy. The pharaohs would be envious of the stratospheric wealth and powers of the new oligarchs: the de facto world government of the billionaire class. But we should be very concerned, because democracy and freedom are being destroyed. If for no other reason, this is sufficient reason to reject neoliberalism entirely.
Neoliberalism is essentially a rape and pillage economic model that leads us into neo-feudal corporate rule, or corporatism, which, as Mussolini said, is the proper name for fascism. Something has to give. This program, agenda, orthodoxy or ideology – this game plan that has been foisted upon the people of the earth by the corporate elite, and which benefits only the corporate elite, has to be jettisoned, and now.
Money and wealth are being sucked up and siphoned off by a global rentier class, the billionaire elite; and the 99% of humanity who are not among the wealthy elite are suffering under this current corporatist, neoliberal agenda – which, as Chomsky has said, essentially means “profits over people”. Meanwhile, the economy is getting more and more unstable, while debts are reaching crisis levels, and the whole order is set to implode and collapse, like a house of cards – for reasons of growing social, economic, and also ecological instability.
The neoliberal model is now in crisis because of its disastrous effects on the majority of the people, as well as the environment, democracy, and also the economy. The model was forced on Chile, under the dictator Pinochet, and even Pinochet had to abandon it, because it destroyed the economy, as Greg Palast makes clear.
In Argentina, the model was applied, as it was forced on the world, and the model also failed, as it has failed everywhere it has been imposed. In the ’90’s Argentina was following the rules, obeying the IMF, and adhering to the “Washington Consensus” of Friedmanite, Chicago School of Economics, neoliberal doctrine, and Argentina was held up as the poster child of success under that model. But 60% of the people fell into poverty, capital flight was enormous, and finally, the economy collapsed – precisely due to the neoliberal orthodoxy. So the people toppled five presidents in three weeks, and threw the neoliberals from power. Now Argentina has begun to recover economically, because it has rejected neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism is the ideology of corporate globalization, to put it succinctly. For most people today, that is enough to reject it, because, as polls have shown, the people are overwhelmingly opposed to it. A recent poll in Canada revealed that 70% of Canadians believe that corporate globalization has been bad for the country and the people. The corporate elite know that their program is wildly unpopular. that is why the “trade deals” – which in truth are corporate rights agreements – are discussed and signed in private, and in secret.
The crisis of legitimacy for the reigning business and political elite grows daily, and is rapidly nearing a tipping point, when the system will simply collapse, because the people have rejected it – just as they rejected the command and control economy and the entire social structure of the Soviet Union. But the fight is not over yet, and we should be anything but complacent.
The key reason why neoliberalism, or corporate globalization, must be rejected, among many other reasons, is that it is a direct assault on democracy by the corporate powers. As the great British Parliamentarian, Tony Benn said, “The big question today is, “Will globalization allow democracy to survive?”” We cannot afford to be complacent about that question, or to take a “wait and see” attitude.
Democracy is under full frontal attack by what Thomas Jefferson called, “The new moneyed aristocracy”. Complacency is not a luxury that we can afford.
Watch this short video by Canadian journalist and author, Naomi Klein, then see my youtube channel for more insightful videos. Look for the playlists: Must-watch, and, Economics In The Real World.
J. Todd Ring,
October 17, 2015