Video: neoliberalism as a colonising project

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, September 9th, 2016 - 29 comments
Categories: capitalism, Left - Tags: , , ,

More good stuff from the ESRA launch in Wellington last week.

“If indigenous people were given a space to be able to think about what system would work for them, I don’t think that would look like capitalism”

Find out more at the ESRA website.

29 comments on “Video: neoliberalism as a colonising project”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    “If indigenous people were given a space to be able to think about what system would work for them, I don’t think that would look like capitalism”

    Generally speaking, if people were given enough time, space and opportunity to work out what works it wouldn’t look like capitalism either. The problem is that our present system is set up so as to protect and entrench capitalism preventing the people from having a say.

    • weka 1.1

      I’m not sure about that. In NZ I see Māori who have time and space and opportunity often working for their people at levels that are survival based ie even though as individuals they have more resource, their people in general are still denied that space. But their underlying ways of organising and their cultural history are not capitalistic (with obvious exceptions). And I see Pākehā who have that privilege of time/space/opportunity often working politically but not particularly interested in replacing capitalism (with obvious exceptions). In other words, when Pākehā get the opportunity to do that replacement work, they’re not doing it, but it looks to me like if Māori had that degree of space and resource we would see some radical change (which is another reason why the system will work against their interests). There are cultural differences here that need to be understood.

      (haven’t watched the vid yet).

      • Siobhan 1.1.1

        That is ridiculous.

        And while we sit around arguing who’s more anti-Capitalistic the Capitalists are counting the coin.

        Look at Corbyn, and poor old Bernie, both leading a movement against Capitalism, and both being voted for by, for the most part, white folk. And remember these aren’t voters who have been manipulated by a media message, because the media is very firmly against these candidates.

        These are voters, of all colours, who have figured out for themselves that Capitalism ain’t working.

        • weka 1.1.1.1

          I’m not actually arguing a more/less argument in that way. Nor am I arguing race. I’m saying there are different cultural perspectives, and that Pākehā have specific ones that make capitalism an acceptable proposition. So once Pākehā get into a place of comfort they’re not culturally inclined to work against that because it’s a good cultural fit. It’s not an accident that neoliberalism arose within certain cultures, not capitalism (as we understand it in the West). Pākehā generally are letting things get very bad before they do something, and it has to primarily affect them for action to happen eg what has happened with water in NZ.

          None of that means that Pākehā can’t or won’t oppose capitalism. It just means that our cultural approach to that is different and probably explains why the main movements are currently predominantly white. My main point is that understanding those cultural differences is useful. It helps us understand the power dynamics, and it also helps Pākehā recognise their cultural dominance and to start dismantling that, in part by recognising the for instance Indigenous Peoples have distinctly different and useful world views.

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.1

            and that Pākehā have specific ones that make capitalism an acceptable proposition.

            That’s only today. And its only because Pākehā have had all their traditional culture smashed down and remade by the 1%’er feudal capitalist swine within their own ranks. The artisans and guilders of 17th century England had no time for the BS that was capitalism, and neither did the average socialist minded American farmer or worker at the turn of the 20th century.

            • weka 1.1.1.1.1.1

              That’s only today. And its only because Pākehā have had all their traditional culture smashed down and remade by the 1%’er feudal capitalist swine within their own ranks.

              Of course. I’m making an argument about culture not race. It’s not inherent in Pākehā to love caplitalism (not that Pākehā is a race anyway). But we have very strong cultural conditioning including in how most of us are raised to think and view the world. That requires a process of decolonisation IMO. I think Indigneous peoples have their own processes to go through, but culturally are generally more connected to other than capitalism ways of understanding the world.

          • Bill 1.1.1.1.2

            I’m going to pick that you’re proposing a much too homogenous idea of Pākehā. And then I’m going to throw in a couple of very broad brush strokes.

            Working class people are often just too fucked over to lift their horizons beyond the prospect of getting food on the table this week. And middle class liberals – those quite nicely rewarded by current political/economic arrangements – can tend to fight for liberty within the iron cage of the status quo while subtly and unsubtly opposing ideas or discussions that, by way of analogy, might be akin to bringing a sledgehammer to bear on the larger matter at hand. (Iron’s brittle and doesn’t stand up well to the shock of short, sharp impacts)

            Taking same sex marriage as an example. It seemed to me that the limits of that debate were ‘hard set’ by liberals. It was only permissible to either support or oppose equal marriage rights within the conceptual framework of the status quo. That framework had not to be questioned. It’s not altogether unfair then, to suggest that a bit of gold leaf got daubed on the iron cage and that everyone, as was the expectation and goal, stood back to remark on what a wonderful shiny achievement that was before sinking back into states of docility and self satisfaction – liberty within the iron cage.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.2.1

              +1

            • weka 1.1.1.1.2.2

              I’m using the term to refer to NZers of European, esp British, descent, and speciifically in this context, those raised in a certain world view that is distinct from that of various Indigenous peoples. Because there are differences in world views culturally (not just in individuals).

              Working class people are often just too fucked over to lift their horizons beyond the prospect of getting food on the table this week. And middle class liberals – those quite nicely rewarded by current political/economic arrangements – can tend to fight for liberty within the iron cage of the status quo while subtly and unsubtly opposing ideas or discussions that, by way of analogy, might be akin to bringing a sledgehammer to bear on the larger matter at hand. (Iron’s brittle and doesn’t stand up well to the shock of short, sharp impacts)

              Yes, that pretty much paraphrases what I was arguing. I’d take it further and suggest that underpinning that is a longer term socialisation around class that predates modern ideas about liberalism. If we look at how the Western mind set arose, and how it differs from Indigenous world views, we can go back millenia not just centuries. Which isn’t to say that in that Western line there haven’t been Indigenous peoples (there have), or that none of those understandings have survived, it’s just that by definition the dominant culture dominates. We are the descendents of the enculturation of the separation of humans from nature, and it shows.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2

        In NZ I see Māori who have time and space and opportunity often working for their people at levels that are survival based ie even though as individuals they have more resource, their people in general are still denied that space. But their underlying ways of organising and their cultural history are not capitalistic (with obvious exceptions).

        Neither is that of Pākehā. Go back in history and you will find that they worked as a community. It’s been specific acts of the people with power that have brought about capitalism and they’ve done so against the wishes of the people. Even now under our supposed democracy capitalism rules over the wishes of the people.

        IMO, the majority of us know that capitalism doesn’t work but have no say in changing that. Our political system prevents it just as it was designed to do.

        And, yes, there is a cultural aspect to maintaining the present paradigm. People without experience of other systems tend to stick to what they know. We see this here from people of both the Left and Right wing when they demand an example of where a suggestion has worked before.

        But what would happen if people were given the information that they need to make decisions on a community wide basis?
        Let them know what and where our lands resources are, what it takes to extract them and what is needed to maintain our population. What would happen then? Would they really decide to sell off those resources as fast as possible as happens under the capitalist system when they know that once those resources are gone there’ll be no more?
        Or would they, as I believe, choose to use those resources sustainably while ensuring that our people have enough to live well?

        And here’s the thing: Prior to the arrival of Pākehā Māori weren’t any more sustainable than any other nation. They just didn’t have the capability to be as destructive as we are now.

        • Colonial Viper 1.1.2.1

          Neither is that of Pākehā. Go back in history and you will find that they worked as a community.

          Exactly. The traditional Scottish highlanders never did anything else. Until the bloody English came along and burnt down all their homes and took all their village lands.

        • marty mars 1.1.2.2

          Your last statement is incorrect imo. Indigenous peoples lived different realities and unless you walked in their shoes how would you know. The numbers are not the story.

          • Draco T Bastard 1.1.2.2.1

            Your last statement is incorrect imo.

            No it’s not.

            Indigenous peoples lived different realities and unless you walked in their shoes how would you know.

            There’s these people called anthropologists that have looked at these things and written about them. Perhaps you should read these writing instead of continuing to believe the myths that have been perpetuated about indigenous peoples nowadays.

            And, no, they didn’t live in a different reality. They may have had a different social paradigm but it was most definitely the same reality.

            The numbers are not the story.

            When indigenous peoples go round burning and destroying 50% of the forest cover before any sort of industrialisation or contact with Europeans then the numbers really are the story.

            • weka 1.1.2.2.1.1

              “There’s these people called anthropologists that have looked at these things and written about them.”

              Yes, and there are people, including anthropologists, who have written about anthropologists and how their work is informed by and contains bias from their own world views that they are often unaware of. I’ve even read a number of them.

              You are perpetuating a myth of your own btw.

              You seem to be arguing that because a culture isn’t wholly good it’s the same bad as all the others. That’s a false binary. Instead we can look at what each culture does/did and what worked and what didn’t in terms of relationship with nature. There are pretty obvious differences between Māori and Pākehā activists for instance. Understanding those is helpful. Pretending that Māori are as bad as Pākehā (whatever that means) is not.

              • Draco T Bastard

                You seem to be arguing that because a culture isn’t wholly good it’s the same bad as all the others.

                Well, I’m not. I’m pointing out, and have linked to evidence before, that indigenous cultures were massively destructive including Māori. Some of those cultures I point to I’ve actually held up as examples of good, prosperous social structures that actually ensured that everyone did reasonably well. But we do have to look at the whole and not just the bits we like.

                Instead we can look at what each culture does/did and what worked and what didn’t in terms of relationship with nature.

                That’s just it. A lot of cultures are being held up as great examples of looking after nature when they really actually didn’t.

                Pretending that Māori are as bad as Pākehā (whatever that means) is not.

                As far as their environmental history goes – yes they are.

  2. Bill 2

    test comment

  3. ‘Capitalism reduces mana’

    A true paraphrase from the vid imo. It sums it up beautifully.

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      Financial capital replaces mana. And that’s what it is designed to do.

      • marty mars 3.1.1

        Mana in one way is a descriptor for the interrelationships specifically and collectively. So not sure about replace but definitely detrimental.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1

          Like at all the mainstream fawning and adoration of the super rich as a superior kind of life form, that’s what I mean.

  4. Wayne 4

    Capitalism succeeds, particularly where there is a competitive market for goods and services, because by and large it works better than all other economic systems.

    Wherever you have democracies you also have, to a greater or lesser extent, capitalism.
    No democracy bans capitalism because to do so would require a fundamental restriction on individual freedom, i.e. banning people from developing their own businesses, and determining their own economic future.

    By capitalism I mean the right of people to develop their own businesses and if it grows the right to employ people on freely negotiated employment contracts, and as a result the right of the business owner to retain the profits, subject of course to payment of reasonable taxes.

    So if ESRA’s kaupapa is to essentially oppose all capitalism they will fail as a think tank that influences actual policy that could be implemented. This is in fact forecast by Chris Trotter on Bowalley Rd.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Capitalism succeeds, particularly where there is a competitive market for goods and services, because by and large it works better than all other economic systems.

      No it doesn’t. If capitalism worked it wouldn’t keep destroying the societies that it arises in.

      Wherever you have democracies you also have, to a greater or lesser extent, capitalism.

      Nope. Democracy is the exact opposite of capitalism which is why we have representative democracy rather than democracy. It allows the rich and powerful to keep their hands on power while giving the illusion of democracy.

      No democracy bans capitalism because to do so would require a fundamental restriction on individual freedom, i.e. banning people from developing their own businesses, and determining their own economic future.

      Lies.
      Democracy always increases individual freedom while capitalism restricts it and peoples economic future is always tied to the economy of the entire nation.

      By capitalism I mean the right of people to develop their own businesses and if it grows the right to employ people on freely negotiated employment contracts, and as a result the right of the business owner to retain the profits, subject of course to payment of reasonable taxes.

      None of those are actually inalienable rights. In fact, I’d go so far as to call those unethical and dangerous. People shouldn’t be able to hire others so that they can become richer from those others work. That’s just bludging and brings about the dangerous delusion that a single person is worth more than all others.

      This is in fact forecast by Chris Trotter on Bowalley Rd.

      Chris Trotter happens to be wrong.

    • Bill 4.2

      Capitalism ‘succeeds’ where there is a competitive market because it generates huge asymmetries of power that get maintained by way of a kind of ceaseless anxious activity – the profit motive; hardly healthy and often pointless. It also works where there is no competitive market – ie, state capitalism. The second point is conceded by most illiberal western democracies when they seek to balance the influence of both the state and private actors on the market economy.

      Wherever you have what you refer to as democracy, the degree of possible democracy will be lessened in relation to the degree of capitalism present. Pretty obvious really. That asymmetry of power that markets generate is fundamentally anti-democratic. If democracy (as you use the term) is seen as a right to private property, then sure, it will embrace capitalism, but it ought not to be called democracy.

      Capitalism sits in stark (and sometimes brutal) opposition to people having any kind of right to develop anything apart from a business, or to pursue avenues other than those that can be readily monetised. As for “freely negotiated employment contracts”, well…it’s an odd freedom that’s limited to the option of either enslaving oneself on the one hand or suffering levels of economic deprivation on the other.

    • Colonial Viper 4.3

      Come on Wayne, you forgot to mention that “capitalism” today has been over taken by banksters, financiers and hedge fund speculators who do nothing but financialise the whole system in order to fuck over the real world economy and impoverish savers.

  5. Wayne 5

    I look at this issue quite simply.

    Capitalism can only be stopped if it is outlawed. Of course that only works if you also deny people the opportunity to change their govt, which is surely a basic precept of a democracy.

    Hence the reason why every socialist country does not (or rather these days did not since there are relatively few socialist countries left) have free elections.

    Now I accept that competitive markets have historically not existed in electricity and initially telecoms, so these areas have been relatively amenable to state ownership. State companies have always existed for essential public works, for instance centuries ago England had the Royal Arsenal that made cannons, gunpowder etc. Public schools and hospitals feature in just about every country, so some things are readily agreed to be predominantly provided by the state on behalf of us all.

    But many of the goods and services we use are provided by competitive markets, and these are almost always capitalist. Of course New Zealand has farmer co-operatives, along with many other western countries. If people choose to voluntarily organise themselves on non-capitalist lines they are free to do so. Which in itself is an expression of individual freedom.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      Here you go ignoring the basic fact that the entire of capitalism has been hijacked by financiers and banksters who play with trillions in financialised gaming instruments that continuously injure the real economy that 95% of people in the world live in.

    • Bill 5.2

      If people choose to voluntarily organise themselves on non-capitalist lines they are free to do so. Which in itself is an expression of individual freedom.

      That’s different to “anyone can starve under a bridge if they choose to”…How?

      Will I bother going through the very real obstacles that stand between me and my desire to live in a world or society that’s organised in non-capitalist ways?

      Will I begin with acculturation or conditioning? Y’know, the idea many hold that “this is the way it is and has always been” and how that perspective is tirelessly reinforced by huge amounts of propaganda?

      Or will I just point out that resources and access to resources is controlled by powerful institutions or institutional mind sets that promote and practice capitalist modes of organisation?

      Maybe Wayne, you could do worse than reflect on historical instances of people who were beginning to successfully overcome those barriers and the reaction that was unleashed on them. Or maybe just look at the current level of non-reporting and mis-reporting that’s coming from the region of Rojava.

      Then come back and tell me all about this supposed ‘freedom’ to ‘voluntarily organise’ along ‘non-capitalist lines’. 🙄

    • Draco T Bastard 5.3

      Of course that only works if you also deny people the opportunity to change their govt, which is surely a basic precept of a democracy.

      Having a government is not part of democracy but a part of capitalism.

      Hence the reason why every socialist country does not (or rather these days did not since there are relatively few socialist countries left) have free elections.

      Actually, every socialist country has free elections. The ones that were/are communist aren’t – they’re capitalist is proven by the top down hierarchy.

      But many of the goods and services we use are provided by competitive markets, and these are almost always capitalist.

      But the question is if that’s actually a viable way to provide them. The increasing poverty that we see is proof that it isn’t.

      Capitalism can only be stopped if it is outlawed.

      Nope, we just need to introduce a better system which is only hard because of the ownership the capitalists have of our politicians.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.4

      Orwell

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