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=== <center>[[George Monbiot]]: [ The Zombie DoctrineMoney’s Reach]</center> ===<center><span style="color:grey">Crisis after crisis is being caused by a failed ideology. But The European Union looks thoroughly rotten – until you compare it cannot be stopped without a coherent alternativeto the alternatives</span></center>
15th April June 2016
It’s as if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communismWhat it’s about is not what it’s about. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no namereferendum is a proxy question. Mention Underlying it in conversation and you’ll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard is the term beforefundamental political question, they will struggle one that is seldom asked precisely because it cuts to define it. Neoliberalismthe heart: how do you know what it iswe best keep money out of politics?
Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007-8Without sufficient public scrutiny, all political systems degenerate into the offshoring service of wealth and power, of which . All end up controlled by the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, few with the slow collapse of public health and educationcash, resurgent child poverty, [ not the epidemic of loneliness], many with the collapse of ecosystems, votes. The primary democratic task is to break the rise nexus of Donald Trumpmoney and power. But So the question we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated face next week is this: “In which political unit can money best be resisted?”. We are not embarrassed by the same coherent philosophy; choice. This is a philosophy that has – or had – a namecontest of plutocracies. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?
So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideologyThe European Union is a festering cesspool of undue influence and opaque lobbying. We appear to accept Prompted at first [ by the proposition that this utopiantobacco industry], millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law[ the European Commission is slowly dismantling], like Darwin’s theory through what it calls its [ “better regulation agenda”], many of evolutionthe hard-won laws that protect our health, working conditions and wildlife. But Once they are torn down, corporate power will be locked in place through the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life [ transatlantic trade and shift investment partnership] it is negotiating with the locus of powerUnited States.
Neoliberalism sees competition as TTIP has two main strands. One is [ regulatory cooperation], which means standardising the defining characteristic laws on either side of human relationsthe Atlantic: almost certainly downwards. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, The other is [ investor-state dispute settlement]: allowing companies to sue governments through an offshore tribunal if a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiencylaw threatens their profits. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits Democracy means being able to change those aspects of governance we do not like. TTIP, if it goes ahead, will ensure that could never be achieved by planningthis is not an option.
Attempts to limit competition And if TTIP fails? Well, there are treated as inimical to libertyother means. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised[http://www. The organisation of labour Comprehensive Economic and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortionsTrade Agreement] between Europe and Canada, that impede imposing much the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealthsame package, quietly transacted, which trickles down now remains only to enrich everyonebe ratified. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterA turbocharged version, involving 51 countries, the proposed [ really-going-trade-services-agreement Trade in Services Agreement] between North America, the EU and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve19 other nations, has been negotiated behind closed doors for the past three years.
We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich [http://wwwec.theguardianeuropa.comeu/commentisfreegrowth/2011industry/novintellectual-property/07trade-secrets/oneindex_en.htm trade secrets directive], approved by the European Council last month, [ persuade themselvesprotection threatens to treat as commercial property] any information that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring a corporation hopes to keep out of the advantages public domain. Whistleblowers and campaigners trying to expose corporate malfeasance such as educationtax evasion, inheritance and class falsifying emissions tests, polluting rivers that may have helped to secure could be subject, depending on how it. The poor begin is interpreted by the courts, to blame themselves massive fines and compensation claims. If the European Union sometimes looks like a matchmaker for their failureswealth and power, even when they can do little to change their circumstancesthat’s because it is.
Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have By comparison to the British system, however, this noxious sewer is a job it’s because you are unenterprisingcrystal spring. Never mind the impossible costs Every stream of housingcorporate effluent with which the EU poisons political life has a more malodorous counterpart in the United Kingdom. The new [http: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident//www. Never mind that your children no longer have Deregulation Act], a school playing field[http: // -they get fat-affect-growth-or-corporate-interests/ meta-law of astonishing scope], it’s your faultscarcely known and scarcely debated, insists that [http://www. In a world governed by all regulators must now] “have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth”. Rare wildlife, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as loserswheelchair ramps, speed limits, children’s lungs: all must establish their contribution to GDP.What else, after all, are they for?
Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents Britain has become a powerbase for [ in his book What About Me?state a legalised financial mafia] are epidemics , which strips the assets of self-harmhealthy companies, eating disordersturns the nation’s housing into a roulette table, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia[https://www. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously launders money for drug cartels and terrorists], is then stashes its gains [ beyond the reach] of police and tax inspectors.html Through privatisation, outsourcing and the loneliness capital private finance initiative, the public sector has been repurposed as a get-rich-quick scheme for friends in the City, licensed to erect tollbooths in front of Europe]essential services. We are all neoliberals nowThe media, largely owned by members of the same class, directs our attention elsewhere: blaming immigrants for the ills it has inflicted.
+++It was British lobbying that sank Europe’s [ soil framework directive] and the financial transactions tax. Without a mandate from either Parliament or people, the British trade minister [ wrote secretly] to the European Commission, insisting that investor-state dispute settlement should remain in the TTIP. Wherever barriers to the power of money are being kicked over, there you will find Mr Cameron’s bootprint.
Since the first states were established, they have sought power by making alliances. The term neoliberalism was coined at [httpsplendid autonomy we are told a Britain out of Europe would enjoy is an illusion://www.wikiberalwe would swap one transnational system for a meeting in Paris The demand to leave Europe in 1938]. Among the delegates were two men who came name of independence has long been accompanied by a desire to surrender our sovereignty to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich HayekUnited States. Both exiles from Austria, they saw social democracy, exemplified If judged by Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and the gradual development of Britain’s welfare statetheir own standards, as manifestations of the Brexit campaigners who foresee a collectivism that occupied stronger alliance with the same spectrum as nazism and communismUS are traitors, ceding the national interest to a foreign hegemon.
In Sixteen years ago, the Conservative party published a draft manifesto [http://www.pressmonbiot.uchicago.educom/ucp2000/books09/book07/chicagovote-conservative-for-a-federal-superstate/R/bo4138549.html The Road to Serfdomin which it proposed], published in 1944, Hayek argued that government planning, by crushing individualism, would lead inexorably to totalitarian controlwe should join the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Like Mises’s book [httpsThis remains a plausible outcome of leaving the EU:// Bureaucracy], The Road to Serfdom was widely read. It came it is hard to imagine the attention of some very wealthy people, who saw in business class permitting the philosophy an opportunity UK to free themselves from regulation and taxstand outside a formal trading bloc. When, What this means is swapping a treaty over which we have had some influence for one in 1947, Hayek founded the first organisation that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society – it was supported financially by millionaires and their foundationswhich we have had none.
With their help, he began to create what Daniel Stedman Jones describes How do we know that TTIP would tear down public protections? Because the same clauses in NAFTA [http://pressthinkprogress.princeton.eduorg/climate/titles2016/9827.html Masters of the Universe01/06/3736750/transcanada-sues-using-nafta/ have already started doing so] as “a kind of neoliberal International”: a transatlantic network of academics, businessmenacross Canada, journalists the US and activistsMexico. The movement’s rich backers funded A closer alliance with the United States means surrendering to a series of think tanks system which would refine has been signed, sealed and promote delivered to the ideologypower of money. Among them were the American Enterprise InstituteThe US campaign finance system, the Heritage Foundationa Congress bound and gagged with dollars, a police and military machine pressed into the Cato Institute, service of plutocracy; a media that scarcely bothers to disguise its own corruption: the Institute political power of Economic Affairsmoney there is naked, the Centre for Policy Studies and the Adam Smith Institute. They also financed academic positions and departmentsunashamed, particularly at the universities of Chicago and Virginiaeven proud.
As it evolved, neoliberalism became more strident. Hayek’s view I suspect that governments should regulate competition Trump, or at least Trumpery of some kind, represents the future of US politics, especially if the Democrats fail to prevent monopolies connect with those who are catastrophically alienated from forming gave way, among American apostles such politics. Exciting as Milton Friedman, it will be to have a woman in the belief that monopoly White House, Hillary Clinton is [ embedded in corporate power could be seen as a reward for efficiencyand corporate dollars], strategically unable to connect.
Something else happened during this transition: the movement lost its name. In 1951, Milton Friedman was happy to [ describe himself as a neoliberal]. But soon after that, the term began to disappear. Stranger still, even as the ideology became crisper and the movement more coherent, the lost name was We do not replaced by any common alternative. At first, despite its lavish funding, neoliberalism remained at release ourselves from the margins. The post-war consensus was almost universal: John Maynard Keynes’s economic prescriptions were widely applied, full employment and the relief power of poverty were common goals in the US and much of western Europe, top rates of tax were high and governments sought social outcomes without embarassment, developing new public services and safety nets. But in the 1970s, when Keynesian policies began to fall apart and economic crises struck on both sides of the Atlantic, neoliberal ideas began to enter the mainstream. As [ Milton Friedman remarked], “when the time came that you had to change … there was an alternative ready there to be picked up.” With the help of sympathetic journalists and political advisers, elements of neoliberalism, especially its prescriptions for monetary policy, were adopted money by Jimmy Carter’s administration in leaving the United States and Jim Callaghan’s government in BritainEUAfter Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan took power, the rest of the package soon followed: massive tax cuts for the rich, the crushing of trade unions, deregulation, privatisation, outsourcing and competition in public services. Through the IMF, the World Bank, the Maastricht treaty and the World Trade Organisation, neoliberal policies were imposed – often without democratic consent – on much of the world. Most remarkable was its adoption among parties that once belonged to the left: Labour and the Democrats, for example. As Daniel Stedman Jones notes, “it is hard to think of another utopia to have been as fully realised.” +++ It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan “there is no alternative”. But, as [ Friedrich Hayek remarked] on a visit to Pinochet’s Chile – We just exchange one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – “my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism.” The freedom neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom version for the pike, not for the minnows. Freedom from trade unions and collective bargaining means the freedom to suppress wages. Freedom from regulation means the [ freedom to poison rivers], endanger workers, charge iniquitous rates of interest and design exotic financial instruments. Freedom from tax means freedom from the distribution of wealth that lifts people out of poverty. As Naomi Klein documents in [ The Shock Doctrine], neoliberal theorists advocated the use of crises to impose unpopular policies while people were distracted: for example, in the aftermath of Pinochet’s coup, the Iraq war and Hurricane Katrina, which Milton Friedman described as “an opportunity to radically reform the educational system” in New Orleans. Where neoliberal policies cannot be imposed domestically, they are imposed internationally, through trade treaties incorporating [ “investor-state dispute settlement”]: offshore tribunals in which corporations can press for the removal of social and environmental protections. When parliaments have voted to restrict sales of cigarettes, protect water supplies from mining companies, freeze energy bills or prevent pharmaceutical firms from ripping off the state, corporations have sued, often successfully. Democracy is reduced to theatre. Another paradox of neoliberalism is that universal competition relies upon universal quantification and comparison. The result is that workers, job-seekers and public services of every kind are subject to a pettifogging, stifling regime of assessment and monitoring, designed to identify the winners and punish the losers. The doctrine that, Ludwig von Mises proposed, would free us from the bureaucratic nightmare of central planning has instead created one. Neoliberalism was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but it rapidly became one. Economic growth has been markedly slower in the neoliberal era (since 1980 in Britain and the US) than it was in the preceding decades; but not for the very rich. Inequality in the distribution of both income and wealth, after 60 years of decline, rose rapidly in this era, due to the smashing of trade unions, tax reductions, rising rents, privatisation and deregulation. The privatisation or marketisation of public services – such as energy, water, trains, health, education, roads and prisons – has enabled corporations to set up tollbooths in front of essential assets and charge rent, either to citizens or to government, for their use. Rent is another term for unearned income. When you pay an inflated price for a train ticket, only part of the fare compensates the operators for the money they spend on fuel, wages, rolling stock and other outlays. The rest reflects the fact that [ they have you over a barrel]. Those who own and run the UK’s privatised or semi-privatised services make stupendous fortunes by investing little and charging much. In Russia and India, oligarchs acquired state assets through firesales. In Mexico, Carlos Slim was granted control of almost all landline and mobile phone services and soon became the world’s richest man. Financialisation, as Andrew Sayer points out in [ Why We Can’t Afford the Rich], has had similar impacts. “Like rent,” he argues, “interest is … unearned income that accrues without any effort.” As the poor become poorer and the rich become richer, the rich acquire increasing control over another crucial asset: money. Interest payments, overwhelmingly, are a transfer of money from the poor to the rich. As property prices and the withdrawal of state funding load people with debt (think of the switch from student grants to student loans), the banks and their executives clean up. Sayer argues that the past four decades have been characterised by a transfer of wealth not only from the poor to the rich, but within the ranks of the wealthy: from those who make their money by producing new goods or services to those who make their money by controlling existing assets and harvesting rent, interest or capital gains. Earned income has been supplanted by unearned income. Neoliberal policies are everywhere beset by market failures. Not only are the banks too big to fail, but so are the corporations now charged with delivering public services. As Tony Judt [ pointed out] in [ Ill Fares the Land], Friedrich Hayek forgot that vital national services cannot be allowed to collapse, which means that competition cannot run its course. Business takes the profits, the state keeps the risk. The greater the failure, the more extreme the ideology becomes. Governments use neoliberal crises as both excuse and opportunity to cut taxes, privatise remaining public services, rip holes in the social safety net, deregulate corporations and re-regulate citizens. The self-hating state now sinks its teeth into every organ of the public sector. Perhaps the most dangerous impact of neoliberalism is not the economic crises it has caused, but the political crisiseven worse. As the domain of the state This is reduced, our ability to change the course of our lives through voting also contracts. Instead, neoliberal theory asserts, people can exercise choice through spending. But some have more to spend than others: in the great consumer or shareholder democracy, votes are not equally distributed. The result is a disempowerment of the poor and middle. As parties of the right and former left adopt similar neoliberal policies, disempowerment turns to disenfranchisement. Large numbers of people have been shed an inspiring position from politics. [ Chris Hedges remarks] that “fascist movements build their base not from the politically active but the politically inactive, the “losers” who feel, often correctly, they have no voice or role to play in the political establishment.” When political debate no longer speaks to us, people become responsive instead to slogans, symbols and sensation. To the admirers of Donald Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant. Tony Judt pointed out that when the thick mesh of interactions between people and the state has been reduced to nothing but authority and obedience, the only remaining force that binds us is state power. The totalitarianism Hayek feared is more likely to emerge when governments, having lost the moral authority that arises from the delivery of public services, are reduced to “cajoling, threatening and ultimately coercing people to obey them”. +++ Like communism, neoliberalism is the God that failed. But the zombie doctrine staggers on, and one of the reasons is its anonymity. Or rather, a cluster of anonymities. The invisible doctrine of the invisible hand is promoted by invisible backers. Slowly, very slowly, we have begun to discover the names of a few of them. We find that the Institute of Economic Affairs, which has argued forcefully in the media against the further regulation of the tobacco industry, has [ been secretly funded] by British American Tobacco since 1963. We discover that Charles and David Koch, two of the richest men in the world, founded the institute [ that set up the Tea Party movement]. We find that Charles Koch, in establishing one of his think tanks, [ noted that] “in order to avoid undesirable criticism, how the organization is controlled and directed should not be widely advertised.” The words used by neoliberalism often conceal more than they elucidate. “The market” sounds like a natural system that might bear upon us equally, like gravity or atmospheric pressurevote Remain. But it is fraught with power relations. What “the market wants” tends to mean what corporations and their bosses want. “Investment”, [ as Andrew Sayer notes], means two quite different things. One is the funding of productive and socially useful activities, the other is the purchase of existing assets to milk them for rent, interest, dividends and capital gains. Using the same word for different activities “camouflages the sources of wealth”, leading us to confuse wealth extraction with wealth creation. A century ago, the nouveau riche were disparaged by those who had inherited their money. Entrepreneurs sought social acceptance by passing themselves off as rentiers. Today, the relationship has been reversed: the rentiers and inheritors style themselves entrepreneurs. They claim to have earned their unearned income. These anonymities and confusions mesh with the namelessness and placelessness of modern capitalism: the franchise model which ensures that workers [ do not know for whom they toil]; the companies registered through a network of offshore secrecy regimes so complex that even the police [ cannot discover the beneficial owners]; the tax arrangements that bamboozle governments; the financial products no coherent one understands. The anonymity of neoliberalism is fiercely guarded. Those who are influenced by Hayek, Mises and Friedman tend to reject the term, maintaining – with some justice – that it is [ used today only pejoratively]. But they offer us no substitute. Some describe themselves as classical liberals or libertarians, but these descriptions are both misleading and curiously self-effacing, as they suggest that there is nothing novel about The Road to Serfdom, Bureaucracy or Friedman’s classic work, Capitalism and Freedom. +++ For all that, there is something admirable about the neoliberal project, at least in its early stages. It was a distinctive, innovative philosophy promoted by a coherent network of thinkers and activists with a clear plan of action. It was patient and persistent. The Road to Serfdom became the path to power. Neoliberalism’s triumph also reflects the failure of the left. When laissez-faire economics led to catastrophe in 1929, Keynes devised [ comprehensive economic theory] to replace it. When Keynesian demand management hit the buffers in the 1970s, there was “an alternative ready there to be picked up.” But when neoliberalism fell apart in 2008 there was … nothing. This is why the zombie walks. The left and centre have produced no new general framework of economic thought for 80 years. Every invocation of Lord Keynes is an admission of failure. To propose Keynesian solutions to the crises of the 21st-century is to ignore three obvious problems. It is hard to mobilise people around old ideas; the flaws exposed in the 1970s have not gone away; and, most importantly, they have nothing to say about our gravest predicament: the environmental crisis. Keynesianism works by stimulating consumer demand to promote economic growth. Consumer demand and economic growth are the motors of environmental destruction. What the history of both Keynesianism and neoliberalism show is that it’s not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed. For Labour, the Democrats and the wider left, the central task should be to develop an economic Apollo programme, a conscious attempt to design a new system, tailored to the demands of the 21st Century.
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