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PEPE ESCOBAR: The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers

PEPE ESCOBAR: The Age of Anger Exploding in Serial Geysers

The presidential election in Argentina pitted the people against neoliberalism and the people won. What happens next will have a tremendous impact all over Latin America and serve as a blueprint for assorted Global South struggles.

South America, Again, Leads Fight Against Neoliberalism

Alberto Fernandez supporters celebrating his presidential victory in Argentina. (Screen shot/YouTube)

The presidential election in Argentina was no less than a game-changer and a graphic lesson for the whole Global South. It pitted, in a nutshell, the people versus neoliberalism. The people won – with new President Alberto Fernandez and former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) as his VP. 

Neoliberalism was represented by Mauricio Macri: a marketing product, former millionaire playboy, president of football legends Boca Juniors, fanatic of New Age superstitions, and CEO obsessed with spending cuts, who was unanimously sold by Western mainstream media as the new paradigm of a post-modern, efficient politician.

Well, the paradigm will soon be evacuated, leaving behind a wasteland: $250 billion in foreign debt; less than $50 billion in reserves; inflation at 55 percent; the U.S. dollar at over 60 pesos (a family needs roughly $500 to spend in a month; 35.4 percent of Argentine homes can’t make it); and, incredible as it may seem in a self-sufficient nation, a food emergency.     

“The Head of Macri: How the First President of ‘No Politics’  Thinks, Lives and Leads.”

Macri, in fact the president of so-called Anti-Politics, No- Politics in Argentina, was a full IMF baby, enjoying total “support” (and gifted with a humongous $58 billion loan). New lines of credit, for the moment, are suspended.   Fernandez is going to have a really hard time trying to preserve sovereignty while negotiating with foreign creditors, or “vultures,” as masses of Argentines define them.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Over 1 Million Chileans Take to the Streets to Demand Political Reforms, Change to Country’s Neoliberal Economic System

Over 1 Million Chileans Take to the Streets to Demand Political Reforms, Change to Country’s Neoliberal Economic System

“Chile is not the same as it was yesterday.”

Protesters wave a Chilean flag during the eighth day of protests against President Sebastian Piñera's government on October 25, 2019 in Santiago, Chile.
Protesters wave a Chilean flag during the eighth day of protests against President Sebastian Piñera’s government on October 25, 2019 in Santiago, Chile. (Photo: Marcelo Hernandez/Getty Images)

Chilean President Sebastián Piñera on Saturday said he would reshuffle his cabinet after over 1 million Chileans poured into city streets across the country Friday to demand structural reforms to the country’s government and economic system.

The move by Piñera came as the protest movement mobilized people in the captial Santiago and beyond. 

“We’re asking for justice, honesty, ethical government,” protester Francisco Anguitar told AFP Friday. 

Piñera made the announcement late Saturday morning. 


BREAKING: Chile’s President
Piñera has asked his ministers to resign, in the most dramatic move since protests began a week ago. The military also announced an end to the curfew. Yesterday’s protest, by more than 1 million Chileans, is forcing change.


The timeline and plan for the replacement of ministers remains unclear. On Saturday, Reuters reported that a document obtained by the news agency “suggested Piñera was considering replacing the heads of at least nine ministries, including the ministries of interior, defense, economy, transportation and environment.”

Chilean senator Felipe Kast on Twitter credited the Friday protests with prompting Piñera’s decision.

“A peaceful day that will leave its mark on our history,” said Kast. “Chile is not the same as it was yesterday.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Elites “Going Rogue” Suggests The Global Neoliberal Architecture Is Collapsing

Elites “Going Rogue” Suggests The Global Neoliberal Architecture Is Collapsing

Listen carefully. That is the sound of going rogue – and bond yields further through the floor.

Yesterday UK PM Boris Johnson announced he is going to prorogue–or close–Parliament, meaning that when MPs come back to sit next week they will only do so briefly, and will then not return until 14 October, when there will be a new Queen’s Speech to launch BoJo’s slate of legislation as the new PM. So far, so technical. Yet what this effectively means is that there will be a very narrow window next week, and then a slightly larger one in the final two weeks of October, for Parliament to act to prevent Hard Brexit on Halloween.

This is explosive and unprecedented stuff, politically. The British constitution is largely unwritten and so allows wiggle room, and the government insists they have checked the legality of all they are proposing; nonetheless, as the press and opposition note, it smells awful. This is clearly a case of Erskine May (the ‘parliamentary bible’ that looks and sounds like it belongs in a Harry Potter tale) turning into Erskine Maybe or Erskine Might.

Indeed, BoJo is being accused of a “coup”, a “constitutional outrage”, an “abomination”, and of being a “tinpot dictator”, though this being the UK, perhaps that should be “teapot”; but there is not just tea but a genuinely revolutionary atmosphere brewing. Bob Kerslake, former head of the civil service, is quoted in the Guardian as stating:

We are reaching the point where the civil service must consider putting its stewardship of the country ahead of service to the government of the day.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity

Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

Current conditions represent a political emergency of sorts, meaning that ways of solving environmental and social problems will either be worked out or circumstances, led by the environment, will assume a life of their own. Given that these conditions are the result of historical processes that were decades and centuries in the making, understanding how we got here is crucial to resolving them.

The relevant ‘we’ here is being redefined through the relation of late-stage capitalism to the world. Climate change and species loss are shifting boundaries, shrinking the universe of arable land, breathable air and drinkable water. Fortress America, previously a conflation of place with one’s status in the imperial order, is largely the source of this vengeful gravity. Political geography is about to get interesting.

In this regard, the IPCC just won’t quit issuing proclamations. Joining climate change and mass extinction is dead and dying land. It seems that you can’t just denude a few hundred million acres of arable land, destroying the ecosystems to which it belongs, without consequences. What mystical clairvoyance could have imagined such an outcome? And more to the point, what can be done about it?

With updates on the breadth and depth of environmental calamity coming fast and furious, still missing is the political path to salvation. The only certainty— as offered by the authors of said calamity, is that we, the little people who add up to 90% or thereabouts of the demos, want— nay demand, calamity. The proof: we still eat, live indoors, wear clothing and find our way to and from work.

However, this is but mere paraphrase. The direct proof is that we consume. And we do so through the social mechanisms— stores, the internet, etc., that have been provided. From this slim foundation the certainty is built that we ‘demanded’ state corporatism, a/k/a neoliberalism, a/k/a rule from above. Markets are the transfer mechanism through which the purchase of a bag of rice becomes support for industrial agriculture.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Planning of a Coup against Venezuela: Chile, September 11, 1973: The Ingredients of a Military Coup. The Imposition of a Neoliberal Agenda

The Planning of a Coup against Venezuela: Chile, September 11, 1973: The Ingredients of a Military Coup. The Imposition of a Neoliberal Agenda

Chicago Economics: Neoliberal Dress Rehearsal of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP)

The main objective of the US-supported military coup in Chile was to impose the neoliberal economic agenda. “Regime change” was enforced through a covert military intelligence operation. 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.” “While food prices had skyrocketed, wages had been frozen.  From one day to the next, an entire country had been precipitated into abysmal poverty.

In 1973, I was teaching economics at the Catholic University of Chile. I lived through two of the most brutal US sponsored military coups in Latin America’s history: Chile, September 11, 1973 and less than three years later, Argentina, March 24, 1976 under Operation Condor, which initiated Argentina’s Dirty War: “La Guerra Sucia”.

And today, the Trump administration is threatening to invade Venezuela with a view to “restoring democracy”, replacing an elected president (casually described by the Western media as a “dictator”) by a US proxy, speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly. 

***

Author’s Introduction

More than forty-five years ago on September 11, 1973, the Chilean military led by General Augusto Pinochet, crushed the democratically elected Unidad Popular government of Salvador Allende.

The objective was to replace a progressive, democratically elected government by a brutal military dictatorship.

The military coup was supported by the CIA. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a direct role in the military plot.   

Is Washington’s ongoing initiative directed against Venezuela modelled on Chile?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Great Discontent

The Great Discontent

Johannes Vermeer Woman holding a balance  1662-63

The problem is, of course, that not only is economics bankrupt but it has always been nothing more than politics in disguise.
-Hazel Henderson

It’s often hard to understand how people can be aware of something but then fail to link it to a perfectly logical next step, or even multiple steps, and see where it fits in a larger scheme. There really are people out there, believe it or not, who look at economic and political developments over the past decade in any particular western country and believe they are unique to that country.

In reality, while things may play out slightly differently from one place to the other, the core causes of what’s been unfolding are the exact same ones in every single location. The reactions of incumbent politicians and economics has been the same as well: massage the numbers and the media, keep the rich and powerful happy, and make sure you and yours are on the ‘right side’ of the line.

In France, the main complaint that the Yellow Vests movement has now taken into its 13th consecutive weekend is crystal clear: people can’t pay their bills anymore. In the UK, austerity has demolished wages, social care, the NHS and much else. In the US, many millions of Americans can’t afford a $400 emergency payment, have ever scarcer access to healthcare and live from paycheck to paycheck. 

Rinse and repeat for every western nation. The storylines vary somewhat, but they all tell the same tale, they could be, they are, chapters in the same book. And it makes one think if people are not connecting them.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Toxic Legacy of Environmental Neoliberalism

The Toxic Legacy of Environmental Neoliberalism

A look at Poland’s growing ecological disaster — and its polluted past — shows how green ideals can wither on the vine.

At December’s Katowice Climate Change Conference, Polish President Andrzej Duda proudly opened the proceedings by declaring that coal “does not contradict the protection of the climate and the progress of climate protection.”

This bizarre and ecologically immoral statement, and the conference’s general embrace of coal, comes from a country whose history deserves greater attention, especially since it echoes so much of the world’s present situation — and possibly our future.

Since joining the European Union in 2004, the Polish state has doggedly pursued the neoliberal policies of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. The “free” market and finance were liberated from state intervention on behalf of the commons and the environment. Limitless economic growth and hyperconsumerism became a mantra. State industries and services were privatized. The economy boomed, and according to Western trade analysts, Polish consumers “are used to doing their shopping seven days a week and at any time of day or night.”

However, this recent history can make it easy to forget that Poles lived under communism for 44 years until 1989. This was an era mostly marked by economic recessions, severe consumer shortages and an absolute condemnation of capitalism. For better or worse, citizens accepted their meager material conditions with stoic resignation, and a few embraced a minimalist lifestyle. Simply put, Polish culture was not driven by mass consumption and materialism. Those were unattainable.

But at the same time, Polish Marxists in the immediate aftermath of a destructive World War were convinced that communism would quickly usher in a proletarian utopia of progress and plenty. Steel mills, aluminum smelting facilities, shipyards and cement plants were constructed in an initial spasm of modernizing dynamism.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, “Oh, how fine are the Emperor’s new clothes! Don’t they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!” Nobody would confess that he couldn’t see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.
“But he hasn’t got anything on,” a little child said.

The tale of the Emperor’s new clothes of Hans Christian Andersen has an important key to how we can change the world: it is by disclosing the prevailing myths that are the foundations of the current order. This is particularly important for a society with so many forceful feedback loops as the current industrial capitalist culture. A school strike of a fifteen year old might therefore be more important than a NGO-boycott of a multinational or a new international treaty. 

There are often vivid arguments between those that argue that consumers, the market, scientists, corporations, governments or international organizations have the main responsibility for climate change (or the deforestation of the Amazon, the use of pesticides, overfishing or cruelty to animals just to name a few others) as well as the transition to a no/low greenhouse gas emission society.  

Often, the allocation of responsibility and agency follows main political lines – neoliberals tend to believe the solution is in the market place, while socialists think the solution is found in more government regulations. But there is also a divide in the view of the possibilities of new technology. A high level of faith in technology is often, but not always coupled with a trust in markets.

The Austere Neoliberal Globalist Agenda

The Austere Neoliberal Globalist Agenda

‘You’ve over-fed him, ma’am. You’ve raised a artificial soul and spirit in him, ma’am unbecoming a person of his condition: as the board, Mrs. Sowerberry, who are practical philosophers, will tell you. What have paupers to do with soul or spirit? It’s quite enough that we let ’em have live bodies. If you had kept the boy on gruel, ma’am, this would never have happened.’

‘Oliver Twist’, Charles Dickens

Reading this Briefing Note on ‘The Integrity Initiative’ is akin to a ‘mind of the gap’ between what passed off as ‘News’ in the Corporatist Mainstream Media and what genuine investigative journalism as serves ‘Democracy as an Alternative’ is all about; it is as to go from a Corporatist diet where ‘watered down gruel’ the norm for the masses to a veritable banquet of richly nutrient ‘culinary delight’ as would be unpermitted as unshared by private interests; with rationale as to the quote from Dickens above.

– It is as to see ‘currency’ in a new light?

For the essence of ‘Black Propaganda’ as neoliberal Corporatist expression is to feed ‘gruel’ to the masses by way of an austerity of information dissemination under manipulation and control which furthers a transfer of resources from public interests to private interests; it is as to a modus operandi of Globalisation as control and manipulation by way of homogenisation, standardisation, and denial?

In colloquial more vernacular: such cultivated austerity by way of mockingbird constitutes a large part of the ‘mushroom theory of Government’ as operated by a ruling minority euphemized as the ‘Deep State’ over a majority, i.e. ‘keep them in the dark and feet them shit‘?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?

Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

I’ve been hearing about neoliberalism for a long time now and never could make much sense of it. It turns out the story we tell about neoliberalism is as contradictory as neoliberalism itself. Two currents within the critique of neoliberalism offer different analyses of the current economy and suggest different strategies for dealing with the gross exploitation, wealth inequality, climate destruction and dictatorial governance of the modern corporate order.

These opposing currents are not just different schools of thought represented by divergent thinkers. Rather they appear as contradictions within the critiques of neoliberalism leveled by some of the most influential writers on the subject. These different interpretations are often the result of focus. Look at neoliberal doctrine and intellectuals and the free market comes to the fore. Look at the history and practice of the largest corporations and the most powerful political actors and corporate power takes center stage.

The most influential strain of thought places “free market fundamentalism” (FMF) at the center of a critical analysis of neoliberalism. The term was coined by Nobel Prize winner and former chief economist of the World Bank itself –Joseph Stigliz. FMF is usually how neoliberalism is understood by progressives and conservatives alike. In this view, an unregulated free market is the culprit and the oft cited formula — de-regulation, austerity, privatization, tax cuts — is the means used to undermine the public commons.

David Harvey’s, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, is perhaps the single most influential book and the author begins with the free market. Harvey sets it up like this:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Approaching Development: GMO Propaganda and Neoliberalism vs Localisation and Agroecology

Approaching Development: GMO Propaganda and Neoliberalism vs Localisation and Agroecology

What people communicate is a matter of choice. But what can be more revealing are the issues they choose to avoid. There are certain prominent pro-GMO activists who describe themselves as ‘science communicators’. They hit out at those who question their views or who have valid criticisms of GM technology and then play the role of persecuted victim, believing that, as the self-appointed arbiters of righteousness, they are beyond reproach, although given their duplicity nothing could be further from the truth.

Instead of being open to questioning, they attempt to close down debate to push a flawed technology they have a vested (financial-career) interest in, while all the time appealing to their self-perceived authority, usually based on holding a PhD in molecular biology or a related discipline.

They relentlessly promote GM and industrial agriculture and unjustifiably cast critics as zealots who are in cahoots with Greenpeace or some other group they have a built-in dislike of. And they cynically raise or lower the bar of ‘credibility’ by ad hominem and misrepresentation so that studies, writers and scientists who agree with them are commended while those who don’t become subjected to smear campaigns.

Often with ties to neoliberal think tanks, pro-GMO lobbyists call for more deregulation and criticise elected governments or regulatory bodies which try to protect the public interest, especially where genetic engineering and associated chemical inputs (for instance, glyphosate) are concerned. The same people push the bogus idea that only GM agriculture can feed the world, while seeking to discredit and marginalise alternative models like agroecology and ignoring the structural violence and injustices brought about by global agricapital interests (from whom they receive funding) which help determine Codex, World Bank, IMF and WTO policies. By remaining silent or demonstrating wilful ignorance about the dynamics and injustices of the political economy of food and agriculture, they tacitly approve of its consequences.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How radical municipalism can go beyond the local

How radical municipalism can go beyond the local

Fighting for more affordable, accessible places to live means fighting for a less carbon-intensive future

by the Symbiosis Research Collective

Climate change, global finance, the neoliberal state: today’s crises require action on a big scale. And yet fighting for local democracy is – perhaps counter-intuitively – the best chance we’ve got.

Throughout this series, we’ve argued that the best way to address today’s ecological, social, and political crises is to get people together where they live and work to provide resources that people need – eventually building up an alternative political and economic system that can replace the present, failing system. We need to build a democratic, just, and ecological world in the shell of the old.

In the previous installment, we argued that organising on the level of the neighborhood, town, and city is the most strategic approach to this today.

The rise of loneliness worldwide, the centrality of real estate speculation for global economic growth, and the breakdown of many large-scale factories that helped to bring workers together mean that we have to rethink the ways we demand change.

We can build community and force elites to listen to our demands at the same time. Radical municipalism is a project to take direct democratic control over the places where we live.

When we talk to people about this strategy, the same kinds of questions often come up. In this article, we highlight three common criticisms. Each one of them revolves around the complaint that radical municipalism is too local: it can’t deal with the ‘big stuff’.

1. Because of climate change, we don’t have time

Any call for a long-term vision for social change begs the response: the urgency of the present moment means we don’t have the time for the slow work of neighbourhood-level organising.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

Back in the (Great) Game: The Revenge of Eurasian Land Powers

What is left roaming our wilderness of mirrors depends on the mood swings of the Goddess of the Market. No wonder an effect of Eurasia integration will be a death blow to Bretton Woods and “democratic” neoliberalism, says Pepe Escobar.


Get ready for a major geopolitical chessboard rumble: from now on, every butterfly fluttering its wings and setting off a tornado directly connects to the battle between Eurasia integration and Western sanctions as foreign policy.

It is the paradigm shift of China’s New Silk Roads versus America’s Our Way or the Highway. We used to be under the illusion that history had ended. How did it come to this?

Hop in for some essential time travel. For centuries the Ancient Silk Road, run by mobile nomads, established the competitiveness standard for land-based trade connectivity; a web of trade routes linking Eurasia to the – dominant – Chinese market.

In the early 15th century, based on the tributary system, China had already established a Maritime Silk Road along the Indian Ocean all the way to the east coast of Africa, led by the legendary Admiral Zheng He. Yet it didn’t take much for imperial Beijing to conclude that China was self-sufficient enough – and that emphasis should be placed on land-based operations.

Deprived of a trade connection via a land corridor between Europe and China, Europeans went all-out for their own maritime silk roads. We are all familiar with the spectacular result: half a millennium of Western dominance.

Until quite recently the latest chapters of this Brave New World were conceptualized by the Mahan, Mackinder and Spykman trio.

The Heartland of the World

Mackinder

Halford Mackinder’s 1904 Heartland Theory – a product of the imperial Russia-Britain New Great Game – codified the supreme Anglo, and then Anglo-American, fear of a new emerging land power able to reconnect Eurasia to the detriment of maritime powers.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Neoliberalism drives climate breakdown, not human nature

Neoliberalism drives climate breakdown, not human nature

Attempts by the New York Times to blame humanity as a whole for climate change let the real culprits off the hook.


Image: Quarrie Photography, some rights reserved.

Many zoos have an exhibit like this: a wall with a hatch, and under the hatch words like “Do you want to see the most dangerous animal in the world?”. Of course everyone does, and before they open the hatch they speculate as to what the animal behind the hatch will be. A lion? A crocodile? However, when you open the hatch there is a mirror, and you see yourself staring back. You are the most dangerous animal in the world.

Of course this is nonsense. Not everyone who opens that hatch and sees themselves looking back is equally dangerous. We are not all equally responsible for destruction of the world’s ecosystems. Some humans who open the hatch probably are responsible for a great deal of destruction. Other are not. Many people bear the brunt of someone else’s destruction.

The idea that all humanity is equally and collectively responsible for climate change – or any other environmental or social problem – is extremely weak. In a basic and easily calculable way, not everyone is responsible for the same quantity of greenhouse gasses. People in the world’s poorest countries produce roughly one hundredth of the emissions of the richest people in the richest countries. Through the chance of our births, and the lifestyle we choose we are not all equally responsible for climate change.

But we are not all equally responsible in a more fundamental way. Some people through the power they wield, have stood in the way of halting climate change. Not because they were stubborn or incompetent or failed to understand the seriousness.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Amazon’s Fusion With the State Shows Neoliberalism’s Drift to Neo-Fascism

Amazon’s Fusion With the State Shows Neoliberalism’s Drift to Neo-Fascism

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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