Neoliberalism Criticism 1NC


Capitalism is a protection racket—it’s the root cause of every impact. Left unaddressed, it’ll cause extinction—only a revolution can solve



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Impacts

Capitalism is a protection racket—it’s the root cause of every impact. Left unaddressed, it’ll cause extinction—only a revolution can solve


Robinson, 16

(William I, professor of sociology, global studies and Latin American studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/35596-sadistic-capitalism-six-urgent-matters-for-humanity-in-global-crisis)



In these mean streets of globalized capitalism in crisis, it has become profitable to turn poverty and inequality into a tourist attraction. The South African Emoya Luxury Hotel and Spa company has made a glamorized spectacle of it. The resort recently advertised an opportunity for tourists to stay "in our unique Shanty Town ... and experience traditional township living within a safe private game reserve environment." A cluster of simulated shanties outside of Bloemfontein that the company has constructed "is ideal for team building, braais, bachelors [parties], theme parties and an experience of a lifetime," read the ad. The luxury accommodations, made to appear from the outside as shacks, featured paraffin lamps, candles, a battery-operated radio, an outside toilet, a drum and fireplace for cooking, as well as under-floor heating, air conditioning and wireless internet access. A well-dressed, young white couple is pictured embracing in a field with the corrugated tin shanties in the background. The only thing missing in this fantasy world of sanitized space and glamorized poverty was the people themselves living in poverty. Escalating inequalities fuel capitalism's chronic problem of over-accumulation. The "luxury shanty town" in South Africa is a fitting metaphor for global capitalism as a whole. Faced with a stagnant global economy, elites have managed to turn war, structural violence and inequality into opportunities for capital, pleasure and entertainment. It is hard not to conclude that unchecked capitalism has become what I term "sadistic capitalism," in which the suffering and deprivation generated by capitalism become a source of aesthetic pleasure, leisure and entertainment for others. I recently had the opportunity to travel through several countries in Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, East Asia and throughout North America. I was on sabbatical to research what the global crisis looks like on the ground around the world. Everywhere I went, social polarization and political tensions have reached explosive dimensions. Where is the crisis headed, what are the possible outcomes and what does it tell us about global capitalism and resistance? This crisis is not like earlier structural crises of world capitalism, such as in the 1930s or 1970s. This one is fast becoming systemic. The crisis of humanity shares aspects of earlier structural crises of world capitalism, but there are six novel, interrelated dimensions to the current moment that I highlight here, in broad strokes, as the "big picture" context in which countries and peoples around the world are experiencing a descent into chaos and uncertainty. 1) The level of global social polarization and inequality is unprecedented in the face of out-of-control, over-accumulated capital. In January 2016, the development agency Oxfam published a follow-up to its report on global inequality that had been released the previous year. According to the new report, now just 62 billionaires -- down from 80 identified by the agency in its January 2015 report -- control as much wealth as one half of the world's population, and the top 1% owns more wealth than the other 99% combined. Beyond the transnational capitalist class and the upper echelons of the global power bloc, the richest 20 percent of humanity owns some 95 percent of the world's wealth, while the bottom 80 percent has to make do with just 5 percent. This 20-80 divide of global society into haves and the have-nots is the new global social apartheid. It is evident not just between rich and poor countries, but within each country, North and South, with the rise of new affluent high-consumption sectors alongside the downward mobility, "precariatization," destabilization and expulsion of majorities. Escalating inequalities fuel capitalism's chronic problem of over-accumulation: The transnational capitalist class cannot find productive outlets to unload the enormous amounts of surplus it has accumulated, leading to stagnation in the world economy. The signs of an impending depression are everywhere. The front page of the February 20 issue of The Economist read, "The World Economy: Out of Ammo?" Extreme levels of social polarization present a challenge to dominant groups. They strive to purchase the loyalty of that 20 percent, while at the same time dividing the 80 percent, co-opting some into a hegemonic bloc and repressing the rest. Alongside the spread of frightening new systems of social control and repression is heightened dissemination through the culture industries and corporate marketing strategies that depoliticize through consumerist fantasies and the manipulation of desire. As "Trumpism" in the United States so well illustrates, another strategy of co-optation is the manipulation of fear and insecurity among the downwardly mobile so that social anxiety is channeled toward scapegoated communities. This psychosocial mechanism of displacing mass anxieties is not new, but it appears to be increasing around the world in the face of the structural destabilization of capitalist globalization. Scapegoated communities are under siege, such as the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Muslim minority in India, the Kurds in Turkey, southern African immigrants in South Africa, and Syrian and Iraqi refugees and other immigrants in Europe. As with its 20th century predecessor, 21st century fascism hinges on such manipulation of social anxiety at a time of acute capitalist crisis. Extreme inequality requires extreme violence and repression that lend to projects of 21st century fascism. 2) The system is fast reaching the ecological limits to its reproduction. We have reached several tipping points in what environmental scientists refer to as nine crucial "planetary boundaries." We have already exceeded these boundaries in three areas -- climate change, the nitrogen cycle and diversity loss. There have been five previous mass extinctions in earth's history. While all these were due to natural causes, for the first time ever, human conduct is intersecting with and fundamentally altering the earth system. We have entered what Paul Crutzen, the Dutch environmental scientist and Nobel Prize winner, termed the Anthropocene -- a new age in which humans have transformed up to half of the world's surface. We are altering the composition of the atmosphere and acidifying the oceans at a rate that undermines the conditions for life. The ecological dimensions of global crisis cannot be understated. "We are deciding, without quite meaning to, which evolutionary pathways will remain open and which will forever be closed," observes Elizabeth Kolbert in her best seller, The Sixth Extinction. "No other creature has ever managed this ... The Sixth Extinction will continue to determine the course of life long after everything people have written and painted and built has been ground into dust." Capitalism cannot be held solely responsible. The human-nature contradiction has deep roots in civilization itself. The ancient Sumerian empires, for example, collapsed after the population over-salinated their crop soil. The Mayan city-state network collapsed about AD 900 due to deforestation. And the former Soviet Union wrecked havoc on the environment. However, given capital's implacable impulse to accumulate profit and its accelerated commodification of nature, it is difficult to imagine that the environmental catastrophe can be resolved within the capitalist system. "Green capitalism" appears as an oxymoron, as sadistic capitalism's attempt to turn the ecological crisis into a profit-making opportunity, along with the conversion of poverty into a tourist attraction. 3) The sheer magnitude of the means of violence is unprecedented, as is the concentrated control over the means of global communications and the production and circulation of knowledge, symbols and images. We have seen the spread of frightening new systems of social control and repression that have brought us into the panoptical surveillance society and the age of thought control. This real-life Orwellian world is in a sense more perturbing than that described by George Orwell in his iconic novel 1984. In that fictional world, people were compelled to give their obedience to the state ("Big Brother") in exchange for a quiet existence with guarantees of employment, housing and other social necessities. Now, however, the corporate and political powers that be force obedience even as the means of survival are denied to the vast majority. Global apartheid involves the creation of "green zones" that are cordoned off in each locale around the world where elites are insulated through new systems of spatial reorganization, social control and policing. "Green zone" refers to the nearly impenetrable area in central Baghdad that US occupation forces established in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The command center of the occupation and select Iraqi elite inside that green zone were protected from the violence and chaos that engulfed the country. Urban areas around the world are now green zoned through gentrification, gated communities, surveillance systems, and state and private violence. Inside the world's green zones, privileged strata avail themselves of privatized social services, consumption and entertainment. They can work and communicate through internet and satellite sealed off under the protection of armies of soldiers, police and private security forces. Green zoning takes on distinct forms in each locality. In Palestine, I witnessed such zoning in the form of Israeli military checkpoints, Jewish settler-only roads and the apartheid wall. In Mexico City, the most exclusive residential areas in the upscale Santa Fe District are accessible only by helicopter and private gated roads. In Johannesburg, a surreal drive through the exclusive Sandton City area reveals rows of mansions that appear as military compounds, with private armed towers and electrical and barbed-wire fences. In Cairo, I toured satellite cities ringing the impoverished center and inner suburbs where the country's elite could live out their aspirations and fantasies. They sport gated residential complexes with spotless green lawns, private leisure and shopping centers and English-language international schools under the protection of military checkpoints and private security police. In other cities, green zoning is subtler but no less effective. In Los Angeles, where I live, the freeway system now has an express lane reserved for those that can pay an exorbitant toll. On this lane, the privileged speed by, while the rest remain one lane over, stuck in the city's notorious bumper-to-bumper traffic -- or even worse, in notoriously underfunded and underdeveloped public transportation, where it may take half a day to get to and from work. There is no barrier separating this express lane from the others. However, a near-invisible closed surveillance system monitors every movement. If a vehicle without authorization shifts into the exclusive lane, it is instantly recorded by this surveillance system and a heavy fine is imposed on the driver, under threat of impoundment, while freeway police patrols are ubiquitous. Outside of the global green zones, warfare and police containment have become normalized and sanitized for those not directly at the receiving end of armed aggression. "Militainment" -- portraying and even glamorizing war and violence as entertaining spectacles through Hollywood films and television police shows, computer games and corporate "news" channels -- may be the epitome of sadistic capitalism. It desensitizes, bringing about complacency and indifference. In between the green zones and outright warfare are prison industrial complexes, immigrant and refugee repression and control systems, the criminalization of outcast communities and capitalist schooling. The omnipresent media and cultural apparatuses of the corporate economy, in particular, aim to colonize the mind -- to undermine the ability to think critically and outside the dominant worldview. A neofascist culture emerges through militarism, extreme masculinization, racism and racist mobilizations against scapegoats. 4) We are reaching limits to the extensive expansion of capitalism. Capitalism is like riding a bicycle: When you stop pedaling the bicycle, you fall over. If the capitalist system stops expanding outward, it enters crisis and faces collapse. In each earlier structural crisis, the system went through a new round of extensive expansion -- from waves of colonial conquest in earlier centuries, to the integration in the late 20th and early 21st centuries of the former socialist countries, China, India and other areas that had been marginally outside the system. There are no longer any new territories to integrate into world capitalism. Meanwhile, the privatization of education, health care, utilities, basic services and public land are turning those spaces in global society that were outside of capital's control into "spaces of capital." Even poverty has been turned into a commodity. What is there left to commodify? Where can the system now expand? With the limits to expansion comes a turn toward militarized accumulation -- making wars of endless destruction and reconstruction and expanding the militarization of social and political institutions so as to continue to generate new opportunities for accumulation in the face of stagnation. 5) There is the rise of a vast surplus population inhabiting a "planet of slums," alienated from the productive economy, thrown into the margins and subject to these sophisticated systems of social control and destruction. Global capitalism has no direct use for surplus humanity. But indirectly, it holds wages down everywhere and makes new systems of 21st century slavery possible. These systems include prison labor, the forced recruitment of miners at gunpoint by warlords contracted by global corporations to dig up valuable minerals in the Congo, sweatshops and exploited immigrant communities (including the rising tide of immigrant female caregivers for affluent populations). Furthermore, the global working class is experiencing accelerated "precariatization." The "new precariat" refers to the proletariat that faces capital under today's unstable and precarious labor relations -- informalization, casualization, part-time, temp, immigrant and contract labor. As communities are uprooted everywhere, there is a rising reserve army of immigrant labor. The global working class is becoming divided into citizen and immigrant workers. The latter are particularly attractive to transnational capital, as the lack of citizenship rights makes them particularly vulnerable, and therefore, exploitable. The challenge for dominant groups is how to contain the real and potential rebellion of surplus humanity, the immigrant workforce and the precariat. How can they contain the explosive contradictions of this system? The 21st century megacities become the battlegrounds between mass resistance movements and the new systems of mass repression. Some populations in these cities (and also in abandoned countryside) are at risk of genocide, such as those in Gaza, zones in Somalia and Congo, and swaths of Iraq and Syria. 6) There is a disjuncture between a globalizing economy and a nation-state-based system of political authority. Transnational state apparatuses are incipient and do not wield enough power and authority to organize and stabilize the system, much less to impose regulations on runaway transnational capital. In the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, for instance, the governments of the G-8 and G-20 were unable to impose transnational regulation on the global financial system, despite a series of emergency summits to discuss such regulation. Elites historically have attempted to resolve the problems of over-accumulation by state policies that can regulate the anarchy of the market. However, in recent decades, transnational capital has broken free from the constraints imposed by the nation-state. The more "enlightened" elite representatives of the transnational capitalist class are now clamoring for transnational mechanisms of regulation that would allow the global ruling class to reign in the anarchy of the system in the interests of saving global capitalism from itself and from radical challenges from below. At the same time, the division of the world into some 200 competing nation-states is not the most propitious of circumstances for the global working class. Victories in popular struggles from below in any one country or region can (and often do) become diverted and even undone by the structural power of transnational capital and the direct political and military domination that this structural power affords the dominant groups. In Greece, for instance, the leftist Syriza party came to power in 2015 on the heels of militant worker struggles and a mass uprising. But the party abandoned its radical program as a result of the enormous pressure exerted on it from the European Central Bank and private international creditors. The Systemic Critique of Global Capitalism A growing number of transnational elites themselves now recognize that any resolution to the global crisis must involve redistribution downward of income. However, in the viewpoint of those from below, a neo-Keynesian redistribution within the prevailing corporate power structure is not enough. What is required is a redistribution of power downward and transformation toward a system in which social need trumps private profit. A global rebellion against the transnational capitalist class has spread since the financial collapse of 2008. Wherever one looks, there is popular, grassroots and leftist struggle, and the rise of new cultures of resistance: the Arab Spring; the resurgence of leftist politics in Greece, Spain and elsewhere in Europe; the tenacious resistance of Mexican social movements following the Ayotzinapa massacre of 2014; the favela uprising in Brazil against the government's World Cup and Olympic expulsion policies; the student strikes in Chile; the remarkable surge in the Chinese workers' movement; the shack dwellers and other poor people's campaigns in South Africa; Occupy Wall Street, the immigrant rights movement, Black Lives Matter, fast food workers' struggle and the mobilization around the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in the United States. This global revolt is spread unevenly and faces many challenges. A number of these struggles, moreover, have suffered setbacks, such as the Greek working-class movement and, tragically, the Arab Spring. What type of a transformation is viable, and how do we achieve it? How we interpret the global crisis is itself a matter of vital importance as politics polarize worldwide between a neofascist and a popular response. The systemic critique of global capitalism must strive to influence, from this vantage point, the discourse and practice of movements for a more just distribution of wealth and power. Our survival may depend on it.

Neoliberalism is unsustainable – it has produced resource wars, climate change, and structural violence – only accelerating beyond neoliberalism can resolve its impacts

Milne 15
(Seumus Milne, Guardian columnist and associate editor, executive director of strategy and communications, “The Davos oligarchs are right to fear the world they’ve made,” 22 January 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/22/davos-oligarchs-fear-inequality-global-elite-resist)

The scale of the crisis has been laid out for them by the charity Oxfam. Just 80 individuals now have the same net wealth as 3.5 billion people – half the entire global population. Last year, the best-off 1% owned 48% of the world’s wealth, up from 44% five years ago. On current trends, the richest 1% will have pocketed more than the other 99% put together next year. The 0.1% have been doing even better, quadrupling their share of US income since the 1980s.¶ This is a wealth grab on a grotesque scale. For 30 years, under the rule of what Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, calls “market fundamentalism”, inequality in income and wealth has ballooned, both between and within the large majority of countries. In Africa, the absolute number living on less than $2 a day has doubled since 1981 as the rollcall of billionaires has swelled.¶ In most of the world, labour’s share of national income has fallen continuously and wages have stagnated under this regime of privatisation, deregulation and low taxes on the rich. At the same time finance has sucked wealth from the public realm into the hands of a small minority, even as it has laid waste the rest of the economy. Now the evidence has piled up that not only is such appropriation of wealth a moral and social outrage, but it is fuelling social and climate conflict, wars, mass migration and political corruption, stunting health and life chances, increasing poverty, and widening gender and ethnic dividesEscalating inequality has also been a crucial factor in the economic crisis of the past seven years, squeezing demand and fuelling the credit boom. We don’t just know that from the research of the French economist Thomas Piketty or the British authors of the social study The Spirit Level. After years of promoting Washington orthodoxy, even the western-dominated OECD and IMF argue that the widening income and wealth gap has been key to the slow growth of the past two neoliberal decades. The British economy would have been almost 10% larger if inequality hadn’t mushroomed. Now the richest are using austerity to help themselves to an even larger share of the cake.¶ The big exception to the tide of inequality in recent years has been Latin America. Progressive governments across the region turned their back on a disastrous economic model, took back resources from corporate control and slashed inequality. The numbers living on less than $2 a day have fallen from 108 million to 53 million in little over a decade. China, which also rejected much of the neoliberal catechism, has seen sharply rising inequality at home but also lifted more people out of poverty than the rest of the world combined, offsetting the growing global income gap These two cases underline that increasing inequality and poverty are very far from inevitable. They’re the result of political and economic decisions. The thinking person’s Davos oligarch realises that allowing things to carry on as they are is dangerous. So some want a more “inclusive capitalism” – including more progressive taxes – to save the system from itself.¶ But it certainly won’t come about as a result of Swiss mountain musings or anxious Guildhall lunches. Whatever the feelings of some corporate barons, vested corporate and elite interests – including the organisations they run and the political structures they have colonised – have shown they will fight even modest reforms tooth and nail. To get the idea, you only have to listen to the squeals of protest, including from some in his own party, at Ed Miliband’s plans to tax homes worth over £2m to fund the health service, or the demand from the one-time reformist Fabian Society that the Labour leader be more pro-business (for which read pro-corporate), or the wall of congressional resistance to Barack Obama’s mild redistributive taxation proposals.¶ Perhaps a section of the worried elite might be prepared to pay a bit more tax. What they won’t accept is any change in the balance of social power – which is why, in one country after another, they resist any attempt to strengthen trade unions, even though weaker unions have been a crucial factor in the rise of inequality in the industrialised world.¶ It’s only through a challenge to the entrenched interests that have dined off a dysfunctional economic order that the tide of inequality will be reversed. The anti-austerity Syriza party, favourite to win the Greek elections this weekend, is attempting to do just thatas the Latin American left has succeeded in doing over the past decade and a half. Even to get to that point demands stronger social and political movements to break down or bypass the blockage in a colonised political mainstream. Crocodile tears about inequality are a symptom of a fearful elite. But change will only come from unrelenting social pressure and political challenge.

Neoliberal social organization ensures extinction from resource wars, climate change, and structural violence—turns all their impacts


Williams & Srnicek, 13

(Alex, PhD student at the University of East London, presently at work on a thesis entitled 'Hegemony and Complexity', Nick, PhD candidate in International Relations at the London School of Economics, Co-authors of the forthcoming Folk Politics, 14 May 2013, http://criticallegalthinking.com/2013/05/14/accelerate-manifesto-for-an-accelerationist-politics/)



At the begin­ning of the second dec­ade of the Twenty-​First Cen­tury, global civilization faces a new breed of cataclysm. These com­ing apo­ca­lypses ridicule the norms and organ­isa­tional struc­tures of the polit­ics which were forged in the birth of the nation-​state, the rise of cap­it­al­ism, and a Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury of unpre­ced­en­ted wars. 2. Most significant is the break­down of the planetary climatic system. In time, this threatens the continued existence of the present global human population. Though this is the most crit­ical of the threats which face human­ity, a series of lesser but potentially equally destabilising problems exist along­side and inter­sect with it. Terminal resource depletion, especially in water and energy reserves, offers the prospect of mass starvation, collapsing economic paradigms, and new hot and cold wars. Continued financial crisis has led governments to embrace the para­lyz­ing death spiral policies of austerity, privatisation of social welfare services, mass unemployment, and stagnating wages. Increasing automation in production processes includ­ing ‘intel­lec­tual labour’ is evidence of the secular crisis of capitalism, soon to render it incapable of maintaining current standards of living for even the former middle classes of the global north. 3. In con­trast to these ever-​accelerating cata­strophes, today’s politics is beset by an inability to generate the new ideas and modes of organisation necessary to transform our societies to confront and resolve the coming annihilations. While crisis gath­ers force and speed, polit­ics with­ers and retreats. In this para­lysis of the polit­ical ima­gin­ary, the future has been cancelled. 4. Since 1979, the hegemonic global political ideology has been neoliberalism, found in some vari­ant through­out the lead­ing eco­nomic powers. In spite of the deep struc­tural chal­lenges the new global prob­lems present to it, most imme­di­ately the credit, fin­an­cial, and fiscal crises since 20078, neoliberal programmes have only evolved in the sense of deep­en­ing. This continuation of the neo­lib­eral pro­ject, or neo­lib­er­al­ism 2.0, has begun to apply another round of structural adjustments, most sig­ni­fic­antly in the form of encour­aging new and aggress­ive incur­sions by the private sec­tor into what remains of social demo­cratic insti­tu­tions and ser­vices. This is in spite of the immediately negative eco­nomic and social effects of such policies, and the longer term fun­da­mental bar­ri­ers posed by the new global crises.

Neoliberalism psychologically manipulates its subjects to become better consumers, eroding value of life


Tadiar, Professor of Women’s Studies, ’12 (Neferti; 10/27/12; Barnard College, UC Irvine Lecture, “Life-Times of Disposability in Global Neoliberalism: China and the Philippines,” https://uchri.org/events/life-times-of-disposability-in-global-neoliberalism-china-and-the-philippines/)

Recent scholarly works have described the perceived shift from liberalism to neoliberalism concomitant with globalization in terms of a shift in the logic of constitution of forms of personhood and governmentality from one constructed around rights and property to another constructed around risk and security. Beyond political and economic practice and rationality, this identified shift in global hegemony is seen to produce and issue out of changed structures of lived subjectivity and feeling, social experience and imagination. In this paper I explore the question of disposability and temporal aesthetics in global neoliberalism as exemplified in the cinematic work of Jia Zhang-Ke and Brillante Mendoza, and therefore in the regional context shared by China and the Philippines. I look at the practices of attention of these filmmakers and the specific forms of rendering what I call “life-times” of disposability, life-producing practices of social experience of surplus populations that are at once the consequence and means of new forms of value-production in the financialized global economy. I consider the aesthetic forms of these works of Asian cinema and the broader economy in which they participate to think about the uneven dynamics of and differentiated political possibilities within the dominant cultural logic of global neoliberalism.”

Neoliberalism has empirically lead to inequality and higher violence rates


Smith 12
(Candace, Candace Smith is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma. She completed her M.A. in Sociology from OU in May 2012. In her thesis, she used data from the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) to examine the impact of witnessing violence on juveniles’ fear of violence as well as the ability of neighborhood collective efficacy to moderate this relationship. Her areas of interest include criminology, victimology, and culture. At this time, Candace is a graduate teaching assistant. She is also currently interning at a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing legal services to the abused, neglected, and deprived children of Oklahoma County. ,“Neoliberalism and Inequality: A Recipe for Interpersonal Violence?”, The Society Pages: Sociology Lens, https://thesocietypages.org/sociologylens/2012/11/06/neoliberalism-and-inequality-a-recipe-for-interpersonal-violence/, 6 November 2012)

In an attempt to demonstrate the relationships among neoliberalism, inequality, and violence, consider the case of Brazil. In the early 1990s, this country increasingly embraced the ideas of neoliberalism. Import tariffs were lessened, most non-tariff barriers were abolished, privatization was increased, and investments were liberalized (Amann and Baer 2002). Yet, despite these pro-capitalist changes and drastic improvements in inflation rates, Amann and Baer contend that Brazil’s neoliberal regime did not improve income inequality, a problem which has haunted the country for decades. In fact, the gap between the richest 10 percent of income groups and the poorest 40 percent of income groups has continued to increase since the introduction of neoliberal policies. Amann and Baer blame part of this widening gap on the reduction of employment opportunities in the industrial sector that occurred as a result of policies that favored privatization, technological advances, and, consequently, mass layoffs. As could probably be expected, urban violence rose dramatically in places like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo during this time period. Similarly, Gawryszewski and Costa (2005) found that homicide rates were highest in the areas of Sao Paulo with the highest rates of socioeconomic disparities. In response to such problems, Amann and Baer conclude that Brazil needs the state to reemerge as a promoter of equality.


As neoliberalization drives up inequality, the middle and lower classes are increasingly losing their political power—the impact is an age of extremism where the all-powerful 1% controls the disenfranchised 99%


Monbiot 16
(George, George Monbiot is the author of the bestselling books The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order and Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain, as well as the investigative travel books Poisoned Arrows, Amazon Watershed and No Man's Land. His latest book is Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the ­Frontiers of Rewilding (being published in paperback as Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life), “Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems”, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot, 15 April 2016)

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 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 notes in Why We Can’t Afford the Rich, has had a similar impact. “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, 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 crisis. As the domain of the state 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 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 Trump, for example, facts and arguments appear irrelevant.


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