Neoliberalism’s Legacy

Ravens on steps at Barr'd Island

This Chris Hedges post inspired my listing below, but my own blunt, scruffy and ornery mood soon took over, so don’t blame him…

Neoliberalism’s Grand Achievement: 8 Families now own half of the Planet’s “wealth”

A concise, incomplete history of it’s ascendency:

  • Sharing the wealth was invented to deal with uppity, but needed, unionized workers in the 20th century
  • A phoney science called “economics” was born and nurtured
  • They stumbled onto a flawed idea called “free” trade
  • Corporations were soon made into “persons” with rights and the ability to live forever; that’s much longer than real persons live
  • Those rights grew and grew as worker’s power shrank
  • Human rights, such as clean water, became “commodities” – sold at a positively pornographic price in some places
  • Market “freedom” inevitably led to privatization: fewer and richer Rich vs more and poorer Poor
  • Entertainment and gadgetry kept the middle class distracted – a worthy crowd control project presented to government/corporate/labour think tanks in the 70’s
  • Monopolies were made legal instead of criminal
  • Unemployment Insurance was euphemized Employment Insurance in Canada
  • Companies were allowed to use their employees’ pension savings, including the workers’ own contributions leaving just a bunch of promised numbers in the safe
  • Banks were allowed play with insurance and sell mutual funds
  • Crazy shit like derivatives became a way for the banks to get richer – until they didn’t
  • Your taxes and mine went to bail out poorly managed banks and their overpaid executives
  • Car companies were bailed out even though they broke their pension promises
  • Private equity firm(s) gobbled up peoples’ houses at auctions as if they’d planned it.
  • “Disaster Capitalism” took control of natural and organized disasters
  • Little wealth was created, just redistributed upward
  • The good freedoms of the many (association, speech…) were replaced by freedoms of the few (monopoly, price gauging, foreclosure…)
  • Human beings are now just another “commodity” to those above eight families.

Britons As Canaries

In Jacobin Magazine this detailed examination, by Costas Lapavitsas, of the Brexit decision:

Why They Left

We in Canada would do well to read it for an appreciation of how Britain, a canary in our Western coal mine of corporate-led disenfranchisement of working people, has alienated all but the privileged as wages, health care and other social services disintegrate.

If the discontent that produced Brexit is recognized as a sign that revolutionary reforms to our global economic model are urgently needed, it may be the first step in a progressive movement.

If, alternatively, the powerful seize this crisis to preserve or fortify their oppressive corporate welfare state of affairs, it will become yet one more “shock” used by disaster capitalists to tighten their strangle hold on the rest of us. Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine explains this brilliantly.

Ukraine Crisis – Classic Disaster Capitalism

What Is Disaster Capitalism?

In her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein pointed out that the world is being privatized at an alarming rate in a decades long process driven by capitalism in overdrive. Every disaster or world crisis is used to scare the population into accepting the need for yet one more transfer of wealth and power to the Very Very Few (my term). The neocons behind Disaster Capitalism will frequently create a crisis of which they can take advantage. The so-called War on Terror is the most devastating example of what has come out of this opportunistic policy, whose neocon proponents must have been quite content when 911 facilitated their continued, decades long, onslaught on our freedoms.

My point today: Recent events in Ukraine have highlighted for me that the Ukraine Crisis, which became acute with a February 22, 2014, US-engineered, coup d’état,  is a classic example of Disaster Capitalism. Before long the Ukraine will have been  aggressively and widely  privatized (farmland, mining, natural gas, etc) to an extent and at a rate that would not be tolerated even in the increasingly docile “democratic” West. It will be “justified” by  using the intimidating excuse that it will be better than the rampant corruption that now exists. This devastating crisis was created on purpose. The US, over several years, manipulated Kiev into a desperate position and then engineered a coup d’état. An American is now the Finance Minister of the Ukraine and both its President and Prime Minister are mere puppets selected in advance of the coup by the US State Department.

The shoot-down of MH17 over the Ukraine has been used to demonize Russia and magnify the crisis. The shoot-down has been used opportunistically and, perhaps, even committed deliberately. It may well be a false flag operation perpetrated by the Ukraine Army with US help and control. False flag operations have been an unfortunate part of US political strategy for years.

A quote from Naomi Klein on Iraq:

Like Russia’s gangsterism and Bush’s cronyism, contemporary Iraq is a creation of the fifty-year crusade to privatize the world. Rather than being disowned by its creators, it deserves to be seen as the purest incarnation yet of the ideology that gave it birth.

More quotes from The Shock Doctrine can be found here.