Defining Neoliberalism: Intentionally Impossible: Pt 1.

{Apologies for the break in service, flu interved most inconveniently}

My rules are 1000 words max and 1 hour to write, my challenge to define neoliberalism where many greater minds than mine have failed. I have an advantage over those greater minds though because I know you can’t define it but I know what it is. It most closely resembles money, its all around and we use it everyday. It’s pervasive because a small part of it is in us all and the very language we use shows this everyday. It isn’t a conspiracy or centrally planned, it’s just a mirage of very wealthy people acting in their own self-interest. Again, like money, it’s at once thousands of years old yet very young. Our monetary system was born in the US in 1971 so it’s just 45 years and having a midlife crisis. Neoliberalism, in its current form, was born in the UK in 1979, so just 37 years old, young thrusting and at the peak of it’s earning power. 1979 is also the year in which ordinary voters were thrown overboard and politics changed, an unspoken pact was agreed.

Rule 1 of Neoliberalism is there is no such thing as neoliberalism. It’s an essentially meaningless word that is just used as an insult here’s Juan Ramón Rallo being Jolly Cross Indeed with George Monbiot for trying to define it.

So what is neoliberalism? Having revised 148 academic essays, political scientists Taylor Boas and Jordan Gans-Morse conclude that the term “neoliberalism” is employed much more often by academics opposed to free markets than by proponents of economic liberalism.

Well that’s got us told, it’s just something academics say to sound clever and what do they know? they’re just a bunch of out of touch left-wing old codgers not of the real world. He continues…

Also, since Boas and Gans-Morse maintain that the use of the term “neoliberal” is far more often negative than positive in academic essays, they conclude that, in its current use, “neoliberalism” is no more than a vacuous slogan against economic liberty.

Well that’s cleared that up, to even use the phrase neoliberal means you’re against economic liberty (whatever he means by that) maybe something worse, a Bennite! In case you’re feeling masochistic you can read the rest of the fudge here and the article he was responding to by George Monbiot here. Neoliberalism is not a thing and there’s as much point discussing it as in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. Now move along, nothing to see here folks, nothing to see.

Rule 2 of neoliberalism is supply side economics as written, and usually misquoted, by Hayek, VonMises and Friedman. The clue is in the name supply side but you’re not allowed to ask who the suppliers are or who owns them, that would be very rude and nasty of you. it’s nothing short of envy, pure envy, that you should question the fact that just ten conglomerates supply just about everything we eat, another handful own the media and everything we think.  Why do you read blogs, why do they even exist? It’s because the standard of mainstream commentary is appalling, narrow and far to open to vested interests.

America is a very good predictor of the future it’s a fairly safe bet that what was over there will soon be over here. The whole fiasco of globalisation started there and we learned how to build a great big inter connected world and forgot how to build and maintain cities, towns and villages. The process is insidious and when corporations get to big they become a law unto themselves and is a rule in itself so more on that later. Any politician who tries to push back is vilified but it is very rare they could ever progress that far to do so.

The economic grip of supply side economics is everywhere but most clearly seen in the “independence” of the Bank of England. I sincerely hope you know that the BoE and the treasury are consolidated IE twin cheeks of the same backside. This is starting to look a lot like government by technocrats as it seems every economic decision taken is by the BoE and not government. I don’t know about you but the questions Tony Benn asked are relevant here.

  • WHAT POWER HAVE YOU GOT?

  • WHERE DID YOU GET IT FROM?

  • IN WHOSE INTERESTS DO YOU EXERCISE IT?

  • TO WHOM ARE YOU ACCOUNTABLE?

  • HOW CAN WE GET RID OF YOU?

 It is the last question we need an answer to, the government by technocrats is hiding, in that safest of places, plain view. We can of course vote the government out, hardly likely in the current circumstances, but the song will remain the same. The Government could even replace Mark Carney but what difference would that make? It will someone cast in exactly the mould with exactly the same policies, you can’t get rid of them. Ask yourself what caused the banks to crash in 2007/8, the US had a republican government and the UK had Labour one, the only thing they had in common was economic policy.

Nothing has been fixed since except the supply of money. Guess where all that QE ended up? Hint: I’m still waiting for mine are you?

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5 thoughts on “Defining Neoliberalism: Intentionally Impossible: Pt 1.

  1. Hayek called himself a neoliberal ,so his followers of policy are neoliberal,but unlike the disciples of Christ they entirely refuse to be called neoliberals,for they’re ashamed & realise that by denying what they are,they can disown it to maybe keep/give themselves some credibility when them & their ilk need to deny not thrice but entirely ever being what they know is & has threatened to destroy humanity once again!

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  2. “Hint, I’m still waiting for mine.”

    You don’t live in Germany, do you? Because they tried some bottom-up economics – and it went off like a firecracker. Okay, so one with a long fuse and not much powder, but it did the trick. Germans aren’t into show: they are into getting things done.

    Perhaps that’s why the corporations are so annoyed at them? A government working for the people who elected it… that’s a contradiction in their (neoliberal) terms.

    Well that little trick the Krauts played on the corporations was called the Stadtsanierung. I’m sure you’ve seen the links scattered across JW’s posts… I refer to it often enough. I’ve met a few people who got the idea – none, so far as I can remember, on the Slog. It was clever, it was literally giving money away, and it did work like a pinch of magic powder!

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    1. I have lived in Germany (for a couple of months whilst back packing in the 80’s) but I’m well aware of German pragmatism. I asked a Town official why Germany didn’t have a comprehensive education sysstem, I was naive in those days . He looked at me oddly and replied in perfect Allo Allo German English “Ve tried zat and it did not vork”.
      The subject of Stadtsanierung will be discussed very soon, it fascinates me.

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      1. Thankyou, get well soon.

        Their pragmatism, their realistic outlook is something the Brits and Americans could do with a little of.

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