Neoliberalism is not just economics: it is a social and moral philosophy
Neoliberalism is a philosophy in which the existence and operation of a market are valued in themselves, separately from any
previous relationship with the production of goods and services, and without any attempt to justify them in terms of their effect
on the production of goods and services; and where the operation of a market or market-like structure is seen as an ethic in itself,
capable of acting as a guide for all human action, and substituting for all previously existing ethical beliefs. [My italics - TM]
The market will not break
The sure sign of a 'faith' is that it's followers have problems with evidence that challenges its core beliefs.
Janet Daley, writing in the aftermath of the destabilization of the stock markets variously blamed on (a) the "credit crunch"
and/or (b) the activities of JÃ©rÃ´me Kerviel, attacked state interference with 'the market':
The Something-Must-Be-Done merchants did what they do: they tried to control the market. Result: they made things temporarily worse.
And unless the S-M-B-D mentality is actually permitted to take over - as it very nearly did in this country from 1945 to 1979, the
kind of damage that it can do will always be temporary.
Because The Market, which seems to have a life and a logic of its own, is
nothing more nor less than the sum total of all the inclinations and judgments of everyone who has a stake in it.
When Margaret Thatcher said you couldn't buck it, what she meant was that once you understood this principle - that a free market was
simply the cumulative expression of all human wants and needs - you realised that it could not be made to do what you or anybody else
wanted on the basis of some theoretical or ideological imperative.
"A life and logic of its own"
Core axiom Number One of 'free' market believers:
" ... The Market ... [has] ... a life and a logic of its own ... "
which only functions
when it is free from state interference, and the 'real' problem is that markets are not yet truly 'free'.
Governments should only provide what the free market cannot (e.g. a united armed forces for defence of the realm, a co-ordinated
police force, a free and fair judiciary, and access to free primary health care for all). The rest, education included, should be
left to the market.
Collective pay bargaining should be abolished - the size of the state reduced, all regional (market distorting) development agencies
should be abolished, all subsidies scrapped, all loopholes closed, all public transport sold, all crown lands and properties
incorporated into a trust and every elector issued with an equal number of shares in that trust to hold or sell as they desire.
There should be a flat income tax so that no one pays more than 20% in total tax - and a statutory limit on the tax take (a maximum
of 25% of GDP) and a maximum for government borrowing (another 25% of GDP) - if they haven't got the money they shouldn't be allowed
to spend it.
Posted by Huw on January 28, 2008 10:24 AM
The Social Darwinist strand in neoliberalism has a distinctly Ubermensch - Untermensch view of humanity:
The market works like Darwinian theory - the weak die, the strong survive, so it is very much like human nature.
Posted by Reasoned View on January 28, 2008 9:20 AM
... Nature shows what can be achived with freedom - incredible flora and fauna, some of which excel at speed, agility,
attractiveness...others get killed very early on, or die in infancy, or never develop...that's freedom.
We can try to meddle, to 'level the playing field' but when you do this you inevitably upset the dynamic that produces such
winners in the first place. If the price you pay is to reduce the suffering of the losers, then can you live without the winners?
Will some other entity be created that overtakes you (as a race or a country) because you have lost your competitiveness?
Posted by FRSA on January 28, 2008 9:34 AM
James Smith 12:13 PM
"If the free market worked, there wouldn't be people with 150+ IQs sitting in call centres making 12 grand a year or less."
A lot of people make this mistake. Intelligence is almost unimportant when it comes to making money. Discipline and willpower - the
inner strength to keep trying, even when the cause seems lost - are far more important.
"Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I'll give you a
Posted by Eric Worrall on January 28, 2008 12:38 PM
I stay away from anyone that uses the word "Fair". They are weak little parasites.
Posted by Jen on January 28, 2008 1:39 PM
By this reasoning, Northern Rock should have been allowed to fail.
Such an argument has a certain brutal logic: account
holders and the bank's workforce would all have paid the price for choosing to bank with, and/or work for, a "weak" institution, an
evolutionary 'dead end'.
However, back in the real world, Brown and Darling managed the seemingly impossible: they confirmed Janet Daley's views on government
intervention, and a worst-of-all-worlds scenario has indeed resulted.
[New Labour's pursuit of contradictory objectives is again demonstrated: try to please everybody, AND keep the neoliberals 'on
side'; a systemic failing since day one.]
Northern Rocks' shareholders, far from suffering a Social Darwinist - 'free market' - Day of Judgement are actually likely to
benefit, since the share price has been picked up off the floor, and the 'good old' taxpayer will shoulder all the risk.
Victims of the Darwinian Leviathan
The question we would be left with, had Northern Rock collapsed, is what would happen to the victims - the losers - from the
action of the remoresless Darwinian Leviathan?
This is no abstract question, since the wind-down of the social-state is set to continue relentlessly whichever party is in power.
The Adam Smith Institute report:
Working Welfare demonstrates the essence underpining both main parties' current line of travel:
New Labour, the Market State, and the End of Welfare
[For a 'third way' option to Social Darwinism or high-bureacracy welfare, examine:
Alternatives to Welfare]
Vulnerability and Violence: The Impact of the End of the Social State
Paedar Kirby examines the impact of neoliberal globalization on a wider canvas,
arguing that it is not solely the poor, or those on benefits, who are affected by the end of the social state.
In his book on the North America Free Trade Area, Jeff Faux illustrates the impact from an American perspective:
... in the past, when what was good for General Motors was good for America, the economic benefits generally trickled down to the people back home.
Today, the new post-cold war globalization has disconnected the fate of America's citizens from those who own and
control the great transnational corporations with American names.
Economic success these days is not, as many would have it,
a matter of being connected to the global economy. Illegal migrants, downsized factory workers, and laid-off tele-marketeers are
all connected to the global economy - as are design engineers, accountants, and computer programmers stunned to learn that their
jobs have been outsourced. The successful are not just connected, they are connected to the top - to the people who run
the Party of Davos.
Globalization did not cause America's growing inequalities. Rather it allowed
the rich and powerful to detach themselves from the bonds that connected the economic fate of Americans of all classes since
World War II.
Ronald Reagan's breaking of the air traffic controllers' union in 1981 signaled big business that it could
violate the domestic social contract.
Clinton's passage of NAFTA in 1993 signalled that big business could abandon
The Global Class War, Jeff Faux John Wiley & Sons, 2006 | Page 5
Neoliberals are not looking for 'third ways' of course, that would counter the essentials of Social Darwinism.
Like all faiths, neoliberalism needs enemies. Christianity - in its fundamentalist form - has "the devil and all his works"; Islam
has "kaffah" [IASDK]; Stalin had
the Kulaks; and Hitler anyone who was not inside his mythical Aryan community.
Neoliberlism has simply "losers":
Seen thus - as a faith - explains much, if not all that we need to know about the essence of neoliberalism.
John Gray puts it thus:
... rationalists ... lament the renewed strength of religion in politics.
They seem to have forgotten the political religions of the twentieth century and cannot have reflected on the fact that in the United
States, a model secular regime, religion and politics are intertwined more closely than in any other advanced country.
The unreality of this secularist stance does not come only from an ignorance of history.
Those who demand that religion be exorcised from politics think this can be achieved by excluding traditional faiths from public
institutions; but secular creeds are formed from religious concepts, and suppressing religion does not mean it ceases to control
thinking and behaviour.
Like repressed sexual desire, faith returns, often in grotesque forms, to govern the lives of those who deny it.
Black Mass HdBk edition, Allen Lane 2007 - page 190
Or, to put it another way, neoliberalism is another form of authoritarianism:
“The idea of freedom ‘…degenerates into a mere advocacy of free enterprise’, which means ‘the fullness
of freedom for those whose income leisure and security need no enhancing, and a mere pittance of liberty for the people, who may in
vain attempt to make use of their democratic rights to gain shelter from the power of the owners of property’.
But if, as is always the case, ‘no society is possible in which power and compulsion are absent, nor a world in which force has no
function’, then the only way this liberal utopian vision could be sustained is by force, violence and authoritarianism.
Liberal or neo-liberal utopianism is doomed, in Polyani’s view to be frustrated by authoritarianism, or even outright
Controlling the Untermensch
Here then is the explanation of New Labour's growing authoritarianism, and it's 'security state' agenda complete with a vast panoply
of IT data bases and Europe's largest CCTV network.
The large state is needed now, not to enable a vanishing social state, but to ensure that the new untermensch -
those who fall into mental illness and/or those who fall into criminality - do not destabilize the 'free' market utopia.
The Wealth of Nations
What is Neoliberalism?
Unto This Last
Toward a North
Welfare State or
We Tortured and
We'd Do It Again