Published on STWR Share The World’s Resources, by Media Lens, 6th February 2008.
2 excerpts: … The Neoliberal Nightmare: To complement the above picture, and in contrast to corporate media coverage, we must also critically describe the political-economic process summed up by that innocuous-sounding word, neoliberalisation. This serious attack on democracy, the latest stage in advanced capitalism, took root in the Reagan-Thatcher era of the 1980s, and has accelerated ever since. Proponents of neoliberalism tell us that human well-being flourishes best within an institutional framework characterised by strong private property rights, free markets and free trade. But what has it meant in practice? …
… A persistent and deep-rooted characteristic of neoliberalisation has been its strong tendency to worsen social inequality, as we will see later. Social progress achieved during neoliberalisation of previously poor countries has not been sustained. Typically, state intervention has been required to maintain any semblance of a social welfare safety net – or the net has simply been left to fray in the chill winds of economic progress.
At the other end of the social spectrum, neoliberalisation has generated spectacular concentrations of wealth and power that have not been seen since the 1920s. In China and Russia, new and powerful economic elites have been created. Harvey sums up:
The flows of tribute into the world’s major financial centres have been astonishing. What, however, is even more astonishing is the habit of treating all of this as a mere and in some instances even unfortunate byproduct of neoliberalization. The very idea that this might be – just might be – the fundamental core of what neoliberalization has been about all along appears unthinkable. It has been part of the genius of neoliberal theory to provide a benevolent mask full of wonderful-sounding words like freedom, liberty, choice, and rights, to hide the grim realities of the restoration or reconstitution of naked class power … (Harvey, op. cit., pp. 118-119).
The above is but a hint of the stark reality underpinning the flourishing of the global economic system; a reality that is shamefully missing from broadcast headlines and newspaper front pages. The current system of economics, particularly the latest stage of turbo-capitalism, known inoffensively as neoliberalism, is built upon painful boom-and-bust cycles fuelled by corporate greed and maintained by cynical deception of the public. The costs to the planet – in terms of human suffering and environmental collapse – are staggering. (full long text).