2013 New Zealander of the year Dame Anne Salmond was written another excellent piece in The Herald:
Balance needed after ravages of neo-liberalism
No one should be surprised if there is a crisis of mistrust in politicians in New Zealand, and across the Anglo-American world. For the past 30 years, they have been pursuing a philosophy that strikes at the heart of trust and integrity in public life.
The rise and spread of neo-liberalism since the 1980s has been a remarkable phenomenon. At its heart, it is based on a simple, utterly amoral idea ” that of the cost-benefit calculating individual. Life is understood as a competitive struggle among individuals. Each seeks to minimise their costs and maximise their benefits.
Once this idea is accepted, a compelling logic unfolds. Those who seek to maximise their benefits are entitled (even required) to minimise their costs ” in particular, those costs that benefit others, since the contest is competitive.
If life is understood as a struggle among cost-benefit maximising individuals, the idea of a fair and harmonious society retreats, even vanishes. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, “There is no such thing as society.” If one studies human history, however, driven as it is by collective achievement, it is clear she was wrong.
The idea that there is no such thing as society, however, has many practical implications. If the aim of life is personal success, those who have failed are at fault and must bear the consequences, those who lose their jobs, for instance, or the homeless.
Once the pursuit of individual advantage takes over, many of our collective institutions are corroded. Truth turns to spin or lies. Justice becomes the preserve of the privileged. Ideas of democracy and “a fair go” seem outmoded. In the name of progress, we sacrifice the future of our own children and the planet. …
Strong words, and true. Read the whole piece in The Herald.