Neoliberalism for dummies

Ivona Poljak

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A short intro into how we created Donald Trump and other world disasters.

 

Neoliberalism. A term a lot of us have heard, but only a few understand. It defines our first world economies and acts as a “saviour” to the third world ones. The system brought us the economic crisis of 2008 and the offshoring of wealth and power (Panama Papers). Caused the collapse of public health and education (because free stuff is for communists). And it has created the worst presidential candidates in history (U.S. 2016 Election).

Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates’ Union of Belgium, went as far as calling it a species of fascism. However, to make that bold comparison you have to be familiar with how the system works and what are the most used terms and policies.

People who use the world neoliberalism often shiver when they mention it. Individuals who know what they’re talking about would say that it is the global economic religion of the last three decades.

How did it all start and what is it?

 

Originally, a bunch of fanatic lads in 19th century England decided that government sucks, democracy has to be restored, Adam Smith is their new Jesus, and the new bible is called The Wealth of Nations”. It’s grand reappearance happened in the second half of the 20th century when two ‘Bond’ supervillains (Reagan and Thatcher) decided to make it cool again and put neo in front of the liberalism.

What are their beliefs?

On the international level neoliberals have focused on three primary points:

Free trade in goods and services – we don’t want to pay taxes for oil that we’re taking away from you.

Free circulation of capital – into the bankers’ pockets

Freedom of investments – we’ll invest in your third world industry, we’ll make it all nice, and shiny and new. Under the condition that our workers have jobs there, all profits go to us, and it doesn’t help your economy whatsoever.

 

They worship the market and their new god “The invisible hand”, and believe that it will all sort itself out eventually.

At the individual level, neoliberalism stands for:

Rational thinking – fair enough

Individuality – being a selfish prick

Self-interest – mo’ money for me, mo’ problems for others

 

What does that exclude?

Terms such as public good or community seize to exist in neoliberalism. That’s what commies and Bernie Sanders talk about, and everything that comes from them is blasphemous.

Which means everything is privatised; free education – gone, free healthcare – gone, unemployment benefits – gone. All because there has to be competition on the market. In other words, big companies are at the top of the food chain, and they compete with other predators in who get’s to eat more.

In an ideal world, that competition should generate wealth in the economies, and we should have great rich nations with continuous production and never-ending accumulation of profit.

 

What happens in reality?

Healthy competition excludes companies that can’t make enough money to compete in the market. Bigger companies that can afford to expand take over smaller companies. After, to cut costs of new-built enterprises, buyers fire people who previously worked for weaker companies.

So now, instead of 10 communication officers from both companies, they will only have 5. Profits are growing and so does the unemployment.

As a result, this has created a concentration of ownership and oligopolies. That means that there are only 5-6 companies that control the market. That makes it impossible for a small business to grow, let alone compete.

Disapproval of government interference?

Their highly valued goal is to minimise government interference in the economy. As mentioned before, everything has to be privatised. That means no government investment in the economy, no public school, housing or hospitals.

Even prisons are privatised. All because companies have to make PROFIT.

Though, sometimes it’s ok for them to interfere. We don’t encourage it, but let’s say there’s a housing bubble, and it bursts, and there’s crisis, and banks are left without money because they were signing stupid deals trying to make the most out of it, without paying attention to what it might do to them, economy and their customers. Then it’s ok for the government to pay our debts, after all, we keep you there to save us when our system fails us.

 

Why did we mention Donald Trump?

Trump is not your typical Republican candidate, and many will agree that his campaign has been very anti-neoliberal. Firstly, he’s against free trade and trade deals such as NAFTA. He has been very vocal about closing the borders, stopping trade with China and investing in the revival of the industries within the U.S.

However, he has been calling for a reduction of taxes for the wealthy, for them to expand their companies. At the first presidential debate, he has said that not paying taxes makes him smart. He also said that the 2008 economic crash was a great business opportunity.

So, it’s impossible for a man who’s job has been relying on the existing economic order and who’s role model is Ronald Reagan, not to follow the examples of this economic plague that has been present for the last 30 something years.

What to look for next?

This is a simplistic view of neoliberalism, of course. There is much more to it, especially from its start in the 80s to today.

I would encourage you to have a look at the linked articles and dig a bit deeper. The World will be a much scarier place, but it will make much more sense once you’re aware of how it works.

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Ivona Poljak