This Isn’t Neo-Liberalism,It’s Gangsterism Pt 1

This Recipe Looks Familiar.

All the original thought in this article is by Simon Duffy, my comments are in green. This post is reproduced with permission and my thoughts are in no way to be taken with Simon’s own, although I hope he likes them. Also thanks to Thomas Clark at AnotherAngryVoice.

Economics emerged as a moral science, an attempt to understand how to advance justice and the wellbeing of all. The word comes from the combination of two important Greek words:

  • Oikos – which means family, family property or the family house
  • Nomos – which means law, order or justice

Today economics is treated as merely a social science, and as with all social sciences, the assumption that there is a moral order and that justice is a fundamental reality has faded. This is very much to the disadvantage of the science. Without moral imagination economics becomes lost in its own self-made world of artificial principles and models. It tries to predict rather than to guide us towards what is right. It becomes a servant of the powerful and of economic power in particular, rather than an advocate for economic justice.

No wonder economics has become known as the dismal science, it has become a mix of academic over-use of mathematics and policy proposals from shadowy “think tanks” whose funding is not properly disclosed. The Adam Smith Institute being a case in point, if you think the phrase Neo-liberal is just a made up word of the left think again. The ASI scores E (the lowest possible) when it comes to transparency. I’m no expert on Adam Smith but the drivel I read from the ASI in no way resembles anything I remember. 

It is striking that one of the founders of economics, Adam Smith, was a moral philosopher and that, his original vision was certainly very moral. For instance, Smith wrote:

“This disposition to admire, and to worship, the rich and the powerful, and to despise, or, at least, to neglect persons of poor and mean conditions… is the great and most universal cause of the corruption of our moral sentiments.”

Smith is responsible for helping to found the most powerful and well known of economic theories, economic liberalism; and while there have been some other important innovations in thinking and practice over the years, this approach – which stresses the importance of individual free choice in promoting good outcomes – has been resilient. Most economic theory is merely a footnote to liberalism.

I like choice I’m basically in favour of it, but what use is it if you not only have no money you have no prospect of any either. This is not to say that everyone should be able to afford a private jet but certainly the basics, and who knows, even a few treats thrown in? The spending of other people is your income regardless of source.

It is a sad irony that the ideas of a man who often stressed the rights and freedoms of the poorest is now often cited to support the policies that harm them. In the UK, Government’s of both Left and Right, have turned justice on its head and acted as if we exist to serve the market, not the other way around. Advocates of justice often use the term liberalism, or its variant, neoliberalism to define the nature of their moral error.

This marks a decline in the meaning of the world liberalism that is also bitterly ironic. Originally being liberal meant to be free or to be lavishly generous. There is nothing liberal about the meritocratic, mean-spirited elites who rule our country today.

In fact I think that when we criticise the current Conservative Government, or the previous Coalition or New Labour Governments, as ‘liberal’ or ‘neoliberal’ we are in danger of flattering them. There is nothing liberal in their policies – in either sense. They do not enable more people to be free and independent, they do not encourage generous giving or secure welfare. They are illiberal, reducing freedom and increasing inequality and poverty.

I also have no idea how the term liberal became so bastardised it seems to mean two different thing to the UK and American. Put a “Neo” in front of it and it means something else entirely, you have as much freedom as money buys you. It is very well worth pausing to think just how right-wing the general narrative has become and in whose interests this is.

Are the Poor being threatened?  Well they certainly are from where I’m standing, social media, the blogosphere and the more responsible MSM are all over it. I have no idea why this has taken so long to permeate public conscientious but I do know it’s behind the rise and rise of one Jeremy Corbyn. The reason I think is pretty simple, more and more people we know, very hard-working people, are getting shafted and for no good reason. Now, I believe, we know they mean us. We’re struggling to cope because we never thought it would come to this, when did you last get a wage rise? How did it come to be that our kids now pay almost £60,000 for a degree? £100 billion that will cost to put right so someone isn’t doing too badly with all that money and it isn’t us. 

The fact is we didn’t stand up for people when we should have. The disabled, the unemployed and the very low paid, we made our excuses and looked the other way. The benefits freeze, public sector pay freeze, the zero hour contracts and the sanctions regime. In the House of commons just last week Theresa May said we could end up like Greece. Needless to say Thomas Clark over at AnotherAngryVoice had an aneurism! We cannot become like Greece because we currency issuers of our own sovereign countries. Yet we did become like Greece in one respect, our off the scale wage decreases are only matched by Greece. he came up with this excellent graphic to show another key difference between us and Greece. 


Tune in for Part Two tomorrow!

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4 thoughts on “This Isn’t Neo-Liberalism,It’s Gangsterism Pt 1

  1. Hijacking is the reason for the financial tyranny we live in!
    Libertarianism is all about freedom with just one rule but a rule easily made redundant do “no harm! “
    Market without the law order of justice is madness but to the libertarian “certainly those of the right” freedom is more important,yet they can’t see that freedom can’t be found that way! Because unless both sides of the equation are treated equally the whole equation fails basic maths and yes i know you condemn maths but that’s because it bad maths and that’s an important distinction going forward if change is going to happen and it’s already started the bad math’s has to be shown up for what it is!
    Ayn Rand was able to hijack the fact that societies have made humanity flourish,that individuals who rocked the boat or worked against the society they lived in were often cast out,sometimes locked up once that was a possible in a society or even killed right right up to the charge of treason!
    John Nash chaos theory my well be a fine piece of maths,but like i’ve pointed out it important to understand bad maths isn’t always bad maths but badly applied maths also,but Nash didn’t point out the flaws in his maths ie the bird that seemed to take charge that fitted the maths was just as likely flew of around the corner and into a oncoming truck !
    Adam Smith i have a great deal of respect for Adam Smith hence why i now rubbish most of the work his institute does!
    His best work is value and to the fact that is indisputable if the prices is too high then the customer can’t return with the same purchasing power the next time he comes to market,if the price is too low the merchant can’t market the same amount of goods the next time he comes to market,from this simple truth and it doesn’t matter how complex the system gets markets are going to fail because once one price is falsified then to redeem the market price must change to rebalance and that suddenly become impossible because it may include someone who was a one time buyer and there means can’t be rectified,and that’s before you add the complexity of tax.
    I’ll leave it there for the time being since part two may hit on some off what i would say anyway.


    1. ps is it any wonder that within 40 yrs of using Nash’s chaos theory the world is in total chaos or is it only me that has come to that conclusion?


  2. The Ghost mentions Nash, His academic partner was Shubick who is well worth reading.
    ”The monetary and financial system of an economy are part of the socio-politico-economic control mechanism used by every state to connect the economy with the polity and society. This neural network provides the administrative means to collect taxes, direct investment, provide public goods, trade. The money measures provide a crude but serviceable basis for the accounting system which in turn, along with the codification of commercial law and financial regulation are the basis for economic evaluation and the measurement of trust and fiduciary responsibility among the economic agents. A central feature of a control mechanism is that it is designed to influence process. Dynamics is its natural domain. Equilibrium is not the prime concern, the ability to control the direction of motion is what counts.

    Money and financial institutions provide the command and control system of a modern society. The study of the mechanism, how they are formed, how they are controlled and manipulated and how their influence is measured in terms of social, political, and economic purpose pose questions, not in pure economics, not even in a narrow political economy, but in the broad compass of a political economy set in the context of society. ”
    Martin Shubik
    Of Course, the Political Theorist who did most of the Damage with this Hypothesis in the 80´s was James Buchanan, Who speaks very eloquently for himself in this Documentary By Adam Curtis,

    To say that the Ideology born of Hayek and fostered by Fisher, with his,, Institute of Economic Affairs ( They of the Brexit Prize I quotes in a previous Comment on the Brexit Omni Shambles), Is not Neo-Liberalism is I think indulging in some pretty impressive Hair Splitting. It is also striking with Von Mises and his later follower Rothbard that modern day ” Libertarians take them and their philosophies in an Al A Carte sort of a way Ignoring the un palatable dishes of their Menu. The Various Quarrels that ensue and the excuses issues and pardons offered for Laizaiz faire economics are all too predictable, Usually it is Crony Capitalism and not Capitalism is to Blame, these days, Neo-Liberalism is not Neo-Liberalism of the True Scotsman Kind. This is, of course, all too familiar of the excuses offered for the predictions of the soothsayers of any belief based Cult. Neo-Liberalism has failed upon its own metrics, therefore, it could not have been the neo-Liberal God to whom the appropriate sacrifices have been made.
    One of the most Convinced and convincing writers on Neo-Liberal ideology is Deidre Mc Closkey This interview with Deidre is very good on this question.

    The case against Neo-Liberalism is well made and supported by its empirical failure, the procrustean contortions to absolve a failed faith by the true believers is often painful to watch Confirmation biases and cognitive biases in the ideologically convinces have always been so,

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