Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Neoliberalism is our Frankenstein"

Patrick Smith writes a delightful takedown of today’s neoliberalism which, make no mistake, is the religion of modern Democrats including Barack Obama. He missed an opportunity to draw a parallel to between it and the equally odious and idiotic neoconservatism, leaving a gap which I will endeavor to fill here.

He relates the issue specifically to the crises in Ukraine and Greece, but don’t doubt for a moment that it is not at the center of this nation’s inability to meaningfully recover from the economic crash of 2008; the reason that Wall Street and corporations have actually gained from that crash while the working class has been left on the tailings dump of an elitist economic policy.

Smith points out that neoliberals draw their logic from the English liberal economists Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill and Jeremy Bentham, which puts them even further from current reality than neoconservatives. Neocons draw from Ayn Rand, who was at least an American and lived in the twentieth century. (She was also a notorious drunk and “woman of loose morals,” but that’s a different issue.) Neolibs are drawing from Englishmen who lived in the 17th and 18th century, and whose thinking was about as relevant to today’s economic conditions as Richard Lionheart’s might be.

He goes on to note that neoliberals sort of “cherry pick” from the writings of people such as Adam Smith, quoting his words only when they bolster their case for the kind of chaos they wish to create. Sort of like fundamentalists do with the bible when condemning certain lives of which they disapprove.

Which is actually a rather apt comparison, since Smith goes on to point out that neoliberalism, “denotes not thought but belief, ideological conviction,” a point which I have noticed often in discussion. They do not tolerate other points of view and take the position that their minds are made up so they therefor do not want to be confused by any facts. Today’s neoliberal finds it very difficult to describe that for which he stands and spends most of any discussion ranting about the evils of the “other side.”

It’s hard to argue against his conclusion that neoliberalism “is the ideology of radical deregulation, radical corporatization, radical privatization … maximal profit without regard to consequences, and the radical devaluation of any serious consciousness of the communities in which all individuals are suspended.”

You might want to argue the first point, citing Dodd-Frank, until you examine the reality of that bill and give thought to what happens if, as Congress certainly intended, it is not adequately enforced. Where are the provisions that assure that it will be enforced, and where are the penalties for institutions which are found to be in breach? What happens if Congress fails to act as specified? The answers to all of that lie in the bills that were passed following the Savings and Loan crisis of the 1980s.

The relentlessness of privatization can be illustrated by Obama’s trip to California to “enlist the help of major IT corporations in securing the safety of the nation’s communication systems.” Need I say more?

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