Neo- Liberalism #
Basically this term is a misnomrer, masquerading as an extension of Liberalism, it is really illiberalism - reactionary.
“No one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions; he had money as well.”
Those words were spoken at the dawn of the neoliberal era in 1980 by British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, and they sum up the attitude that led to the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.
The Thatcherite ideology was pretty simple: deregulate financial markets, lower taxes, privatise state-owned industry, let companies and individuals get as rich as they possibly can, and all will be well. Yes it will lead to inequality, but it will also increase wealth; and wealth will “drag up the poor people”, as Mrs Thatcher put it.
It was an ideology that extended beyond economics. It became a religion.
London in the 1980s and ’90s was a city that really lived by Wall Street protagonist Gordon Gekko’s memorable mantra: “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”
The UK and the US were the epicentres of this ideology. US-based economist Milton Friedman and UK-based economist Friedrich Hayek were the new movement’s spiritual leaders; Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were its political agents. It quickly spread around the globe.
The economist John Maynard Keynes once explained that the free market rested on:
“the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone”.
*To which J.K. Galbraithcontributed:
“conservatives are engaged in one of mankind’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy: a search for a superior moral justification for selfishness”.
Michael Pascoe translates Neo-lib’s core rhetoric into reality:
“We believe in a fair go for those who have a go.” (Those making money deserve to make more money.)
“We believe that the best form of welfare is to have a job.” (Welfare should be cut back.)
“We believe it is every Australian’s duty to make a contribution and not take a contribution.” (Everyone on social welfare is a bludger – a particularly telling twisting of John F. Kennedy’s “don’t ask what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.)
“And we believe this, you don’t rise (sic) people up by bringing others down.” (Taxation is bad and progressive taxation is particularly evil.)
Waleed Aly claims that by embracing neo-liberalism, conservatives backed themselves into an ideological corner that forced them to violate the philosophical tenets of liberalism and conservatism and adopt reactionary politics.
The mourned breakdown of community and family has been accompanied by the emergence of new forms of these. Today’s most vibrant communities seem to be virtual and de-territorialised, and the traditional nuclear family is only one feature of the social landscape. The thought of organic social homogeneity is a nostalgic fantasy.
We live in Marshall McLuhan’s Global Village with mass migration, trans continental jobs and residences and the globalisation of information. It was free trade that helped economic growth of GDP, however, 90% of the gains went to a very small top strata of the population.
The Australian Economist,Bernie Fraser writing in The Guardian blames “neoliberalism” and its influence on policymaking for the “disconnect between Australia’s impressive economic growth story and its failure on so many markers to show progress towards a better, fairer society”.
Neoliberalism has caused “misery and social polarisation” “too many Australians remain unemployed, under-employed, underskilled, underpaid and lack job security”.
Fraser warns that society has become* “less fair, less compassionate and more divided” and “more devoid of trust in almost every field of human activity”* in the past 20 years.
Who knows what next awaits us.