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What is neoliberalism?

Written By: - Date published: 1:17 pm, April 23rd, 2012 - 189 comments
Categories: class war - Tags:

Neo-Liberalism is a moral and intellectual justification for greed. A way for those few who accumulate wealth, by impoverishing many, to justify themselves, and keep those they are stealing from docile and compliant.

This purpose for centuries has been fulfilled by religion. We still see echo’s of the religious  attitudes. The idea that the poor are poor because of personal defects,  American exceptionalism, the banker who reckons, “God wanted me to be rich”,  Ayn Rand’s “wealth creators”.

Neo-liberals outwardly believe in small Government, minimal regulation, taxation and social security,  individual freedom and responsibility and the primacy of the market in fostering economic efficiency.

In fact their leaders and intellectuals believe in anything which enables them to accumulate wealth at the expense of the rest of us.

Neo-Liberalism would be more appropriately called Neo-conservatism. It is an attempt to return to pre-enlightenment times when the idea of “each is born into their proper place” was undisputed.

Neo-Liberalism has become common usage, unfortunately we are stuck with it.

Neo-Liberalism itself has all the characteristics of blind belief and faith inherent in religion.

Despite its only success being in making a very few people wealthier, millions of people, including most politicians, blindly adhere to the faith.

‘It doesn’t seem to matter that they NEVER get it right. It doesn’t seem to matter they are promoting economic theories that are junk. But unlike Ring’s quackery, the quackery of neoliberalism is treated with reverence, it is ascribed legitimacy’.

“The first of these shifts was the Great Depression or, more precisely, the feckless response of both American mainstream political parties to the economic collapse that followed the 1929 stock market crash. In the crucial first years after the crash, Democrats and Republicans alike embraced exactly the same policies they are embracing in today’s economic troubles, with exactly the same lack of success, and showed exactly the same unwillingness to abandon failed policies in the face of economic disaster. Then as now, the federal government launched a program to bail out big banks and corporations—it was called the Reconstruction Finance Corporation in those days—and pumped dizzying amounts of money into the upper end of the economy in the belief, real or feigned, that the money would work its way down the pyramid, which of course it didn’t do. Then as now, politicians used the shibboleth of a balanced budget to demand austerity for everybody but the rich, and cut exactly those programs which could have helped families caught by hard times. Then as now, things got worse while the media insisted that they were getting better, and the mounting evidence that policies weren’t working was treated as proof that the same policies had to be pursued even more forcefully.” (John Micheal Greer).

Their Apostles are Adam Smith,  Ayn Rand, Von Mises,  the Austrian, and Freidman, the Chicago  schools of economics.

Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” is often quoted. Adam Smith’s “you should pay your workers fairly because they are the source of your wealth” and “tax capital and land instead of workers and entrepreneurs” is, of course, ignored.

Von Mises and Freidman advocate a totally unregulated market and a Government as one adherent famously said, “that you could drown in a bathtub”. Except for police and military to protect their wealth, of course!

Ayn Rand considered the owners of capital “wealth creators” although she had to live off the real wealth creators, the rest of us, towards the end of her life.

“So before we consider having another trickle-downer in the White House, let’s talk about the failure of this idea and why if you want to see a real job creator, you should look in the mirror”.

In fact they support their own freedom to make money regardless of social, environmental or economic effects. At the same time restricting individual freedom to protest, or co-operate to challenge their primacy.

Supporters do not seem to see the conflict between saying they support  individual freedom  while at the same time restricting the majorities individual freedom to withdraw their labour or protest. These freedoms are restricted, often violently.

“Let’s recap. You’re rich, and you want to stay that way. So, to protect your ticket; to safeguard your $50 million prize; you need to find a way to eliminate, or at least minimise, the threats posed by taxes, unions, and democracy. What’s your strategy?

Essentially, there’s only one winning strategy. It requires you to convince all those who are not wealthy that whatever status and security they do enjoy is the result of your own superior imagination, risk-taking and skill. You have to paint yourself and your fellow millionaires and billionaires as a “wealth creators” and, more importantly, “job creators”. You have to convince your fellow citizens that any attempt to restrict or redistribute your wealth will not only put their jobs at risk, but that society as a whole will become poorer.

If you can convince people of these things, then they will, perfectly democratically, eliminate wealth taxes, truncate workers’ rights, and reconfigure their entire political system to favour the tiny minority fortunate enough to hold the multi-million-dollar winning tickets”

Neo-Liberalism. Like all religions, is a way for the already wealthy to delude everyone else from rebelling, so they can keep their “winning ticket”.

While many followers of religions have the best of intentions, their leaders have no such illusions. The intent is to keep wealth and/or power.

The overall effect of Neo-Liberal economics is to “privatise profits while socialising the losses”.

Hugely increasing inequality and economic and social dysfunction.

Country after country adopts Neo-Liberal economics and rapidly goes downhill even by Neo-Liberalism’s own measures such as GDP. And we still believe it is the solution!

Compare Argentina and the BRIC countries to the Anglo Saxon countries that are slavishly following the Neo-Liberal religion.

Truly voodoo economics.

-KJT

189 comments on “What is neoliberalism?”

  1. Mooloo magic 1

    Totally; agree when is the populace is going to wake up the lunacy and flawed ideology? As a Nation we cannot continue to travel down this flawed ideological path unless we are all now so accepting that there is a need to the wealthy to continue their obscene greed at the expense of the greater majority.

  2. Olwyn 2

    Your analogy to religion is in real-life a limited one, except insofar as the powerful need to either invent an ideology that serves their purpose, or subvert and own an existing one. The latter is usually more effective, since the concepts involved are already up and running. But I think you would be hard-pressed to find a neo-liberal answer to St Francis of Assisi.

    Both liberalism and conservatism are modern secular orthodoxies, and the neo-liberals cobble together aspects of both. But they cannot embrace a form of conservatism in the full sense of the word unless or until they manage to establish themselves as an almost unquestioned status quo. They find it hard to achieve this however, since their relentlessness drive for ever more dominance precludes stability. Hence they are inclined to subvert the terms of liberalism to their own ends. “Freedom” becomes their freedom to exploit, and your freedom, within proscribed limits, to consume their products. And so on, and so on. So they are liberal in the sense that they are progressive. However, the progress in question is always and only toward their untrammeled dominance.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Your analogy to religion is in real-life a limited one

      It’s not limited in that it points to a simple truth – human beings need something to believe in, and if they don’t have religion they will find something else. Politics, economics, science, etc.

      Most of the time, I prefer that their object of worship is a God, as opposed to say Milton Friedman or Alan Greenspan.

    • Carol 2.2

      To me, whether you refer to neoliberalism as a religion or not is irrelevant. What is important is that it was a front for the wealthy and powerful elites regaining dominance after some gains by the left in countries like NZ, the UK and the US during the 60s and 1970s. David Harvey’s A Brief History of Neoliberalism provides a very good analysis about how this was achieved:

      http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=hZ-6T4pIV4cC&pg=PA222&dq=david+harvey&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WrCET5vOLcORiQeb3aG8Bw&ved=0CD8QuwUwAg#v=onepage&q=david%20harvey&f=false

      He shows how the neoliberal project was embedded in different places in a slightly different way, as a result of differing circumstances and history. The practice didn’t live up to the stated ideals, but, as he says on p119;

      It has been part of the genius of neoliberal theory to provide a benevolent mask full of wonderful-sounding words like freedom, liberty, choice, and rights, to hide the grim realities of the restoration or reconstitution of naked class power, locally as well as transnationally, but most particularly in the main financial centres of global capitalism.

      Harvey also outlines how this was achieved, through the work of right wing think tanks over a long period, and through embedding their people and ideas in key positions in the media, government, universities. On page 3 he says:

      The advocates of the neoliberal way now occupy positions of considerable influence in education (the universities and many ‘think tanks’), in the media, in corporate boardrooms and financial institutions, in key state institutions (treasury departments, the central banks), and also in those international institutions such as the International Monetary fund (IMF), the World Bank, and The World Trade Organization (WTO) that regulate global finance and trade. Neoliberalism has, in short, become hegemonic as a mode of discourse. It has pervasive effects on ways of thought to the point where it has become incorporated into the common-sense way many of us interpret, live in, and understand the world.

    • Bored 2.3

      Olwyn, I like that you mention my hero St Francis. He is reputed to have said, “I have come to rebuild a church” (the locals took this to mean this to be a local ruin: he meant the whole corrupt church). Francis succeeded to some degree, but not for any lasting time.

      In the case of capitalism I am not sure that it is possible to rebuild without the whole thing becoming corrupted by the vagaries of human nature: the Roman churches codification of the Deadly Sins seems far more appropriate an acceptance of reality than any faux theologies such as rationalist dogmas (neo Liberalism, Marxism, Rands little misanthropic nastiness etc).

      You mention the modern secular orthodoxies: they all bow down at the altar of our modern deity, progress. We also call this goddess names such as growth, improvement, technological advance and complexity etc. We can quantify these and demonstrate that they are “real”. What we cannot quantify is our own humanity. For example how greedy you are and need to be, and for what? I think we would actually “progress” far more if we ditched the concept of progress and its bastard offspring.

      • Olwyn 2.3.1

        Thanks Bored: I don’t think that goodness of the sort that St Francis puts an end to all corruption, but instead leaves in its wake a form of evidence that such goodness is always possible, if rare.
        A quote from Zygmunt Bauman, taken from his book “Modernity and the Holocaust:”

        “It does not matter how many people chose moral duty over the rationality of self-preservation – what matters is that some did. Evil is not all powerful. It can be resisted. The testimony of the few who did resist shatters the authority of the logic of self-preservation…One wonders how many people must defy that logic for evil to be incapacitated.”

        And I agree with you about the mania for progress: it is an idea that is filled with 19th century hubris, with an underlying assumption of infinite resources.

    • KJT 2.4

      Are you denying the whole period of the dark ages, when religion was used to keep the secular and religious elitists in power.

      Or present day religions where the leaders live like kings and many followers live in poverty as they donate much of the little they have to the “Church”.

      Marx’ “religion is an opiate for the masses” nailed it.

      I am the first to admit there are many devout people who are charitable, tolerant, intelligent and nice to have around.

      Unfortunately all religions, including Neo-liberalism, attract those who like to “park their brain at the door’ and have others do their thinking, and those who exploit them.

      • Olwyn 2.4.1

        I have certainly not said anything in defense of religion in the dark ages, especially not in terms of its domination of people; I merely pointed to a Christian example, the equivalent of which neo-liberalism, under its own orthodoxy, would be unlikely to produce. My point about neo-liberalism is that it seems to rely solely on selfishness supported by means-end reasoning, without so much as a tip of the hat to goodness.

  3. Slap Shot 3

    I don’t think this is correct. Assuming that results must always reflect motivations is a standard fallacy.

    The most that neo liberals have in common is a commitment to the market mechanism as a means of social organisation.

    This commitment has no single origin. Some think that it is the only way to avoid totalitarianism (Hayek); some think that it will extend and entrench socio-economic hierarchies (various tories); some that it will make society as a whole better off (Friedman); some that the only acceptable forms of social organisation are based on consent (various libertarians and anarcho-capitalists); and some that it can be sold to the voting public (Tony Blair).

    The only uniting factor among all these people other than commitment to the market mechanism is that they’re all completely demented.

    • Carol 3.1

      Yes, ascribing motives to a wide group of people operating in the same way, or using the same discourse is problematic. It also suggests there was a well co-ordinated movement/conspiracy. I think it was more likely a network of people with some similar ideas and aims, related to profit-making through capitalism, and individualistic competition.

      The proliferation of right wing think tanks does indicate some conscious efforts to pull back from some successful left wing, collectivist, social justice, or welfare state, initiatives, and more towards a right wing agenda. This is also evident in the way the likes of Thatcher, Regan, Pinochet etc, all followed some similar Chicago School economics.

      The Pinochet government was the first to adopt some neoliberal policies, in consultation with some Chicago School economists (according to Harvey). After that various capitalists “stumbled” towards neoliberalism in a a fairly chaotic and confused way. They did this in response to a crisis in capitalism in the 70s, with social democracy failing to provide practical solutions that would preserve capitalism. Unfortunately, the the political left, still wanted to retain a social democratic compromise with capitalism.

      So the right did latch onto some contradictions within the dominant left wing policies. But, this is also how neoliberalism can be undermined – i.e. by applying pressure to its contradictions and fracture points – e.g. the fact, as some above have said, that neoliberalsim doesn’t live up to the promise of its PR of freedom and wealth for all, and that it hasn’t solved the inevitable crises that capitalism produces. etc.

      • jimgreen 3.1.1

        I think you would be interested in one of Hayek and Freidmans creations -The Mont Pèlerin Society – it is described as the:

        “unofficial and official transnational and international networks of state and corporate representatives and intellectuals who work to produce policy consensus for global capitalism” (W.A. Knight, “Coexisting Civilizations in a Plural World”)

        Our very own Rodger Douglas has given speeches to the society and with eight Nobels (in economics…lol) on the books their word carries a lot of weight in the right circles. Its role is to provide a network for the generation and dissemination of neoliberal scholarship, for which the society is credited as a driving force behind development of the think-tank. (Have a look at D. Plehwe and B. Walpen, “Between Network and Complex Organization,” http://www.forba.at/data/downloads/file/300-Plehwe-Walpen.pdf)

        In academia neoliberalism has at its core the fundamental theorems of welfare economics (re: PeteG @10). This is where neoliberalism gets its all-important metaphysical basis as it is considered by believers to be the equivalent of a general theory of economic and social life on the same standing that the still-elusive general theory of physics has in the natual sciences.

        This “scientific” basis gives rise to all manner of things such as the neoliberal technocrat and inflation-targeting “independent” central bank. Contrast this with Keynes whos work does not have the mathematical elegance or simplicity (an end-goal neoliberals also borrowed from physics) and you can see why neoliberals have that smug, self-righteous character to them.

        On a similar note, Gordon Campbell is onto it (as always) with this article about higher-education making people stupid:

        http://werewolf.co.nz/2012/04/clever-people-dumb-politics/

        Unfortunately for the left we have to live in a world where social life cannot be submitted to a general, infallible theory (e.g. classical Marxism or neoliberalism) and hence we don’t have the luxury of knowing whats right all the time. Here we can only hope that democracy brings the right voices to the table.

        • Carol 3.1.1.1

          It reminds me of a couple of articles I read while doing an MA in London. The first was a set reading on the Politics of Reading, about the importance of literacy to democracy and political action. The second, The Politics of Ignornanca was a response to it. There’s a couple of passages that always stay in my mind:

          http://arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/essaysintoliteracy.pdf

          Children do not arrive at school ignorant though they may arrive illiterate. Whether or not they leave school illiterate, they frequently leave ignorant, which is the state in which the more “successful” may enter universities and other institutions of higher ignorance, some in due course to return to the classroom and spread the infection to another generation of children.

  4. Gosman 4

    Nice to see leftists trying to define neo-liberalism so spectacularly badly.

    I suppose it is similar to how many of you feel when Democratic Socialism is defined in terms of the Soviet Union and Maoist China.

    • Bored 4.1

      Hi Gos, you might read what I posted above: you will note that I don’t believe in any of the idiot ideologies that spring out of materialist rationalism: These include your beloved neo liberalism and Marxism…all the same absolutist dead ends. Same difference, same results.

    • mike e 4.2

      GOLD
      of
      Sachs
      maniacal liar I suppose you could line up a few right wing totalitarian states no problem
      but goose you always go to extremes to get your unfounded truths out there.
      i.e. more lies from the compulsive liar!
      How about telling us all about Goldman Sachs and their corrupt practices seen you were working for them.

      • Gosman 4.2.1

        I’m still waiting for you lot to provide evidence of serious wrong doings by Goldman Sachs. The biggest ‘crime’ I have seen them being accused of was to help Greece hide the size of their budget deficit via a transaction that they checked out was legal with the European regulators. Sure they are arrogant w@nkers but you could place that epitaph on a lot of successful groups, the All Blacks even.

        • KJT 4.2.1.1

          http://idiotsinpower.blogspot.co.nz/2010/07/silent-mass-murder-goldman-sachs-co.html

          Their are many other references also, but basically US and UK finance houses made billions from starving the worlds poorest people.

          • Gosman 4.2.1.1.1

            Merely speculating on the prices of commodities is not evil. Goldman Sachs took a position that demand for commodities would increase, (mainly due to wealthier people in places like India and China I would suggest). They seem to have been right. The fact that people in Chad are starving isn’t because of Goldman Sachs but more to do with the success of other nations AND the failure of their own Government to provide an environment condusive to economic development.

            BTW that blog you linked to has little understanding of Commodity Derivatives. I used to work for Euronext-Liffe. Commodity futures and options have been traded for speculative purposes for a long time.

  5. Vicky32 5

    We still see echo’s of the religious  attitudes. The idea that the poor are poor because of personal defects

    I have to state that there is no religion that states any such thing! (Not that I know of anyway.) I am reasonably certain that such attitudes play no part in Buddhism, and I am completely certain that Christianity in fact says the opposite!
    (I am not sure about Judaism, or Hinduism, from what I know of them, both might in fact say that poverty is a sign of divine disfavour. But I could be wrong, Jews and Hindus, should any read this are welcome to correct me). But as I see others have already said, don’t blame religion for the ghastliness of neo-liberalism!

    [lprent: “religious” is a adjective and doesn’t actually need to refer to any religion.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/religious

    scrupulously and conscientiously faithful

    In this case James (as is clear in the next sentence) is referring to untested presumptions of the neolibs. ]

    • Uturn 5.1

      We’ve had this “discussion” before. You don’t recognise the old testament, therefore the christian god can be absolved of his convenient blindness to world views such as the neo-lib way. But the old testament does exist, and your argument falls apart in the fact that Jesus said “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s…” in the New testament, therefore eliminating him from any useful socialist perspective – apart from bourgeois socialism – as history later knew it.

      That passage spells out that Jesus came to save souls, not create a political movement; something that many of his supporters still misunderstand and promote and as a result their prophet later had to answer for that with his life. His “Father” on the other hand was a totally different creature and unrepentive in his support of a particular social structure as reflection of god worship; blending the line between an absolute anti-aesthetic, almost far-eastern religion and the concepts of an extreme kind of Islamic sect with the more obvious, almost callous, disregard for human life. Ultimately, he had no problem with the poor staying right where they were, reasoning that from a perspective of worship, it didn’t matter to him if you were poor. In the Bible you can almost hear his sighs of, “Oh well, if I must intervene…” once he does. Unlike Islam, this god doesn’t come towards you, you have to go to him. This, too, has been misused by politicians, but the fact that His approach so closely mimics an omnipotent capitalist is either the biggest co-incidence of human history or there is something to it after all.

      The only allowance I can award is that there is a good opposing argument, despite evidence, that in theory religions in general are not designed to be political and cannot be a manifesto in any way without losing their transcendental elements.

      [lprent: I fail to see the relevance of your comment to this topic or as a response to Vicky. If you want to go and argue about the arcane details of particular religions then do so in a post on the topic (which I haven’t seen), OpenMike or find another site that specializes in it. ]

      • Vicky32 5.1.1

        That passage spells out that Jesus came to save souls, not create a political movement; something that many of his supporters still misunderstand and promote and as a result their prophet later had to answer for that with his life. His “Father” on the other hand was a totally different creature and unrepentive in his support of a particular social structure as reflection of god worship; blending the line between an absolute anti-aesthetic, almost far-eastern religion and the concepts of an extreme kind of Islamic sect with the more obvious, almost callous, disregard for human life. Ultimately, he had no problem with the poor staying right where they were, reasoning that from a perspective of worship, it didn’t matter to him if you were poor. In the Bible you can almost hear his sighs of, “Oh well, if I must intervene…” once he does. Unlike Islam, this god doesn’t come towards you, you have to go to him. This, too, has been misused by politicians, but the fact that His approach so closely mimics an omnipotent capitalist is either the biggest co-incidence of human history or there is something to it after all.

        I presume this rant is aimed at me – very well…
        First, I recommend that you actually read a Bible, and not just what American Atheists say it says.
        Second, the NT is called ‘New’ for a reason.
        Third, I really can’t be bothered, and play your silly reindeer games, thereby ruining the thread for other people.
         

        • Uturn 5.1.1.1

          It is a reply to your comment – that’s what the 5.1 means. As for telling me what I have and haven’t read and done, or what I might be, you have no idea. Interesting that you think discussion and ideas ruin threads, or is it just discussion you don’t want to have and ideas you can’t tolerate? Very well, go run and hide behind the concept of “other people”.

      • Bored 5.1.2

        Uturn, you might have mentioned that the “Pilgrims” who set out to create the “City on the Hill” in the Americas brought with them some Calvinist concepts that underscore American capitalist thought. One of them is the concept of being favoured by God, and this being apparent on Earth. Calvin’s concept of the “Elect” proposed that only a limited number can go to Heaven, and that you don’t know if you are “predestined” to do so. Being wealthy can be interpreted as having Gods favour, as a sign you are amongst his elite. The old concept of poverty and charity trumped, it becomes Gods work to be “successful” in business.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.2.1

          However, the Founding Fathers were also at great pains to keep religion as far away from the infrastructure of their foundling Republic as they possibly could.

          • Olwyn 5.1.2.1.1

            @ Bored: That conceptualisation of predestination is in fact a distortion of the Augustinian idea – unappealing as it is. It is meant to affirm God’s absolute sovereignty and transcendence. If God is thus, it follows that your salvation is entirely in God’s hands, not your own, and God, being all knowing, makes this decision, not you. There is no room for bargaining with the absolute. But if you put the idea together with the idea that God rewards those he favours, then you come to the happy conclusion that your business success assures you that you are one of the elect.

            @ Colonial Viper: It is true that they did not want a repeat of the religious quarrels they had fled and acted accordingly, but it is perhaps impossible to take on a position of neutral rationality when what you look upon as rational is already informed by a perspective.

          • prism 5.1.2.1.2

            It’s interesting that some of the new states clung to their religion and repudiated all others, Quakers were locked up because they had different religious (more caring) ideas. So equality of humankind and freedom of thought and worship were compromised from the first.

        • Uturn 5.1.2.2

          “Being wealthy can be interpreted as having Gods favour, as a sign you are amongst his elite. The old concept of poverty and charity trumped, it becomes Gods work to be “successful” in business.”

          A concept underscored in the book of Job, and elsewhere. But it is one of those discussions that has no concrete end. The Catholic church, in theory, in its theology and symbolism, is a deeply meaningful religion. But witness its consistent backing of power and landed gentry throughout recent history, against the people they claimed to protect and support; Napoleonic era, Irish rebellion, Spanish Civil war to name a few; and you get a practical picture that is a horror.

  6. Vaughan 6

    This is sloppy and foolish. If you’re passionate about the topic, get some rigor.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Wow. You really set the standard mate. Just look at how much ‘rigor’ your own bullshit comment has.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.2

      How about you actually advance an argument rather than just spouting off at the mouth?

  7. captain hook 7

    neo liberalism is where we have choice.
    i.e we can choose to sleep under a bridge if we feel so inclined.
    otherwise it is an ideological device to infantilise and isolate individuals, and keep them scared and afraid of reality unless they buy stuff to increase their happiness and ward off feelings of worthlessness inculcated by the media.
    unfortunately it is only a distraction and in the long run it doesnt work.

  8. fatty 8

    I see neoliberalism as a natural progression within capitalism. If you want to end neoliberalism, you have to end capitalism. Neoliberalism as the only option available for capitalists when the economy stalled in the 70’s (the only other option was, and still is, an end to capitalism).
    However, neoliberalising the world did not just occur in the 70s by the ‘evil’ people…neoliberalism was made possible with the formation of the world bank (WB), the IMF and the UN in the post-war years. Also key was Harry Truman’s announcement in 1949 where he stated the USA’s desire to ‘develop’ the ‘undeveloped’ regions of the world. ‘Development’ from Truman was (and still is) nothing more than neo-colonialism with a patronising façade. The combonation of the WB, IMF, UN and ‘development’ underpins neoliberalism today…it was no different then except it was social democratic capitalism, rather than neoliberalsim.

    I see neoliberalism as nothing more than late-modernity capitalism. Its capitalism with individualism, mass consumption and globalisation.
    Its tempting to look at neoliberalism in NZ and claim it was the ‘bad’ people who hijacked the Labour party to screw us ‘good’ people, but I think it was a long slow process that began after WW2 with developmental (neo-colonial) institutions (WB, IMF, UN). The 70’s economic crisis coincided with the hippy movement based on individualism and liberalisation…the result is neoliberalism.
    Neoliberalism in NZ incorporates biculturalism, gender issues (plus other social movements of the 70s). We often think of biculturalism and gender equality as movements that challenge neoliberalism, but they don’t, they reinforce neoliberalism…they’ve always been embedded in NZs neoliberalism.
    I’m not just talking about the current Maori Party, but rather bicultural ideals…when does self-determination become individual responsibility? Within most institutions Maori culture/language/protocols are just instances of cultural tokenism which in the end becomes justification for blaming Maori for anything and everything they suffer from.
    A stay at home mum from a two-parent family is now a definition of a ‘successful’ family…women are used disproportionally as temp workers – underpaid, few rights, etc.
    Neoliberalism is capitalism with the ideals of the hippy movement (minus the love). Its capitalism with individualisation, identity concerns and liberalisation.
    Its important to be aware of who uses neoliberalism, who benefits from neoliberalism and who suffers under neoliberalism…but its wrong and limiting to assume neoliberalism was constructed by an evil team of people in a lab and then unleashed on us.
    Check out this page from the Guardian about ‘development’…looks good, friendly and well intended, but this is neoliberalism in full force – from us ‘good’ people (we are all ‘doing neoliberalism’ on a regular basis). http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development

    Bryce Edwards gives a good perspective on neoliberalism in NZ, his blog series looks at how identity movements (hippy movement) replaced class as the main social concern. This is from his blog; http://liberation.typepad.com/liberation/2010/01/identity-politics-vs-class-politics-8-neoliberalism-and-identity-politics.html
    His chapter ‘Hegemony and the Culturalist State Ideology in New Zealand’ from the book ‘The Politics of Conformity in New Zealand’ expands on the emergence of neoliberalism within NZ.

    • Carol 8.1

      The Bryce Edwards article is interesting, thanks fatty.

      I think you slightly misrepresent Edwards, when you say:

      is blog series looks at how identity movements (hippy movement) replaced class as the main social concern.

      What he actually argues is that the state took on board elements of the identity politics social movements because they saw them as a threat – ie they siphoned off an acceptably aspirational middle-class version of identity politics:

      The more far-sighted elements of the New Zealand state, universities and the business class saw the need to deflect the potential dangers arising from the growth of new social movements, especially those with a Maori base. There was a conscious attempt to bring on board elements of these groups, to embrace and fuse identity politics into a new liberal Establishment, and to foster the growth of a ‘brown middle class’ and a ‘brown bourgeoisie’ (Ferguson, 2000, p. 34).

      He argues that the elements ofsocial liberalism was taken up by the Fourth Labour government, combined with economic liberalism. I don’t see anywhere that Edwards supports your claim, fatty that:

      Neoliberalism in NZ incorporates biculturalism, gender issues (plus other social movements of the 70s). We often think of biculturalism and gender equality as movements that challenge neoliberalism, but they don’t, they reinforce neoliberalism…they’ve always been embedded in NZs neoliberalism.

      I agree with Edwards that biculturalism was a way of neutralising the threat many in the Pakeha-dominated establishment saw in the Maori sovereignty movement. The social movements came before the Fourth Labour government and, IMO were absolutely necessary as both the left and the right were quite oppressive towards women, gays, Maori etc before the 1960s counter-culture offered a collective means, and valuable discourse to challenge these oppressions. For me, growing up in Auckland through the 50s and 60s as a female and lesbian was not a happy place to be. I found the early 70s in NZ an unliveable place and left for the UK where I lived until the 1990s, so I had no first-hand experience of the NZ Fourth Labour government.

      But in the UK, the women’s and gay movements were strongly embedded in leftwing political networks. Thatcher deliberately set out to demolish that, and this was replaced by the importation of pop culture, commodification of feminism in the form of pop culture girl power.

      The “hippy” movement, or counter-culture in NZ was the first to offer some relief and hope for a world that challenged, not just class inequalities and destructively competitive materialism, but also social repression, oppression and inequalities. This just didn’t arrive from nowhere. Had the left been more welcoming to and understanding of the issues for women, gays, Maori etc, the social movements would not have been necessary during the 60s and 70s. But for those of us outside the white, male, middleclass norm, it was a long struggle to get accepted by the left. Blaming that struggle on the rise of neoliberalism is adding insult to injury. As you say, neoliberalism hasn’t been that great for many women, or for many Maori.

      Yes, neoliberalism wasn’t concocted from one well-organised, conspiratorial group, but was the end result of a range of initiatives, amongst a network of powerful group. Those in those networks trying to find a way to maintain capitalism in the face of diverse threats.

      • fatty 8.1.1

        “He argues that the elements ofsocial liberalism was taken up by the Fourth Labour government, combined with economic liberalism.”

        I don’t think I misrepresent Edwards. The traditional right stepped to the left socially just as the hippy/counter movement stepped to the right economically. I just think that the new social movements fail to acknowledge that their actions were a massive step to the economic right. If you forget completely the social implications of the new social movements and look at how their challenging of the government affected the economy, then I think my claim is true;
        “Neoliberalism in NZ incorporates biculturalism, gender issues (plus other social movements of the 70s). We often think of biculturalism and gender equality as movements that challenge neoliberalism, but they don’t, they reinforce neoliberalism…they’ve always been embedded in NZs neoliberalism.”

        “Had the left been more welcoming to and understanding of the issues for women, gays, Maori etc, the social movements would not have been necessary during the 60s and 70s”

        That was the problem faced by boomers, they suffered from social conservatism (but they also benefited from economic conservatism) and the result was the hippy movement. The social movement’s rhetoric was anti government due to their socially repressive nature, but the hippies/counter culture failed to recognise the economic protection that the government gave. Social movements of the 60s & 70s are too often looked at through a social lens, but its good to also acknowledge how they moved capitalism into its neoliberal form.

        “Blaming that struggle on the rise of neoliberalism is adding insult to injury.”

        I know…its brutal. I think the hippy movement was great, it was needed, I would hate to live in a socially conservative society. I thank the hippy movement for many things, but I do blame the hippy movement for economic restructuring – neoliberalism.

        “Yes, neoliberalism wasn’t concocted from one well-organised, conspiratorial group, but was the end result of a range of initiatives, amongst a network of powerful group. Those in those networks trying to find a way to maintain capitalism in the face of diverse threats.”

        I think capitalism has not had a ‘threat’ since the 1960s when socialism/communism was a possible alternative. I think the hippy movement and social liberalisation was never even close to being a threat to capitalism, instead it empowers capitalism and propels it into its neoliberial stage.
        E.G. The gay movement is great for mass consumption. Gays are now ‘accepted’ and are often middle to upper class, yet unbelievably there is still questions over their parenting ability!…so you have the gay community with lots of money and no children to spend it on – perfect consumers! (gay social rights are still oppressed…their ‘liberation’ could not be more neoliberal if Don Brash wrote the script).

        Conservatism (what we both hate) prevented neoliberalism from occurring. Rather than seeing neoliberalism as a step to the right, I see neoliberalism as a centrist position. We all acknowledge that its an economic step to the right for the traditional left…but it is a social and cultural step to the left from the traditional right. The traditional right ceded as much as the traditional left did as neoliberalism developed from the 70s-90s.

        That’s why I’m hesitant to use the terms left and right as I am unsure of their positions as I see them as very similar now (although I do still use the terms and I see nothing wrong with it…they just seems way more vague than they were so I like to split them socially and economically).

        I place Helen Clarke, Tony Blair, David Cameron, John Key etc all within the neoliberial/third way camp. All at slightly different degrees of modern capitalism. I see it very difficult to be a modern capitalist who is not neoliberal, the WB, IMF, UN all make that impossible?

        • Gosman 8.1.1.1

          When it comes down to it the battle in mainstream politics in the West is a battle between a system where Private Capital drives economic performance or a system where Collectivised Capital does so. In a sense Capitalism wins no matter which side you vote for. Now you might want a radically different system from this but no mainstream party, (not even Mana), is offering an alternative. I would encourage you to form a political party to push these ideas though. I will then take great delight in seeing you struggle to get your message heard and be taken seriously.

          • fatty 8.1.1.1.1

            Cheers for the irrelevant brain fart Gosman…your messages possesses the logic of an inbred monkey who is attempting to type his thoughts with mangled stumps instead of fingers. I now understand why you are the perpetual joke of this site…not only are your ‘thoughts’ restricted by normalisation, you then go on to champion normalisation as if your sheep technique is something to be proud of. I said that capitalism was the problem and we need a new system, I’m not stupid enough to believe that will happen anytime soon through our parliamentary system. There’s too many Gosman’s in this world who are limited by their own ignorance.

            “I will then take great delight in seeing you struggle to get your message heard and be taken seriously.”

            Its already heard and taken seriously by some, it just requires a functioning brain for that to occur. Are you enjoying your capitalist utopia? That’s no more or less utopian than the socialist and communist failures of last century.

            *That was a waste of 4 minitues of my life Gobman…if you want another reply from me, try not to be so dumb.

        • Carol 8.1.1.2

          fatty, I agree with you on many points (eg Helen Clark, WB et al) – I stopped voting Labour during the Clark government).

          But we are likely never going to agree on the causes of the shift from hippy counter-culture to neoliberalism. To me, it looks like you are misreading the sources, missing key words and phrases, and making assumptions that just aren’t in the sources (eg I have read Harvey’s book closely and have detailed notes from it – ditto for some of Naomi Klein’s stuff, which also does not support your thesis). I don’t have the time right now for a detailed response.

          The terms left and right have their limitations, but I still see them as being useful. One of the results of the neoliberal shift was the moving of the dominant political positions in NZ and the UK rightwards, and to be more in line with what is regarded as left and right in the US (neoliberalisation and the related economic globalisation included a significant amount of Americanisation) – see for instance Stuart Hall’s article,”The Great Moving Right Show”.

          Also, the shifts in dominant social, political and economic values never go in a straight line. They go through progressive periods, “backward” steps, sidesteps etc, then return to some of the more progressive, leftward positions of earlier periods. This has happened with feminism over the last couple of centuries.

          I see a lot of “hippy” values and approaches/methods in the current occupy movement, for instance – and many see the feminist Greenham Common protests (visited the camp several times and remember it well) as one of the precursors to the contemporary occupy movement.

          • fatty 8.1.1.2.1

            “To me, it looks like you are misreading the sources, missing key words and phrases, and making assumptions that just aren’t in the sources (eg I have read Harvey’s book closely and have detailed notes from it – ditto for some of Naomi Klein’s stuff, which also does not support your thesis)”

            I don’t see myself as ‘misreading’ Harvey at all. I love his work, but I find a Marxist perspective to have its limitations so I do not subscribe to everything he says or writes. Same with Klein. And same with all academics. Marxism is good for highlighting who holds power, but not so good for considering the process of power, it applies an ‘us vs them’ approach which in this case completely misses the fact the the ‘traditional right’ moved to the left during neoliberal restructuring.
            I like post-structuralism and neo-marxism as well…therefore I agree with most of a marxist perspective, but not all. I have no intention of being in total agreement with Harvey, or Klein, or anyone. I prefer Zizek to be honest.

            “One of the results of the neoliberal shift was the moving of the dominant political positions in NZ and the UK rightwards, and to be more in line with what is regarded as left and right in the US”

            Yes…but only economically right. NZ also experienced a major shift to the left during the 1980s – social liberalisation. Both occurred at the same time and there interdependance should not be ignored. The new social movements broke the paternal hold of the government on both social ideals and the economy.

  9. lefty 9

    I get annoyed when people say neo liberalism doesn’t work. It works very well for the rich.

    While the right invested heavily in think tanks the bulk of the left wallowed in shallow social democrat nonsense that denied the reality of class relationships under capitalism. Neo liberalism didn’t just get embedded it was driven by a constant process of agitation, propaganda, trial and error and deep strategic thinking.

    Its no wonder the right regard the left with such contempt. After all we went from a situation where the very real threat of socialist revolution in the early 1900s had forced major concessions such as the welfare state out of the capitalists, to the present where the social democrat left competes to be seen as the responsible steward of capitalism. The left (with a few honourable exceptions) pretty much stood back and let this happen – in fact Labour led the charge for neo liberalism for a number of years (and I’m not just talking about the rogernomics era).

    And the parliamentary left still don’t get it. They criticise the neo liberals for widening the gap between rich and poor, diminishing the role of the state and crony deals but this is what their system is supposed to achieve and the parliamentary left never suggests changing the system as a solution to the problems it raises. The right are successful in their own terms and they are running a very successful capitalist system.

    Its crap for the rest of us because its supposed to be.

    Despite providing a home for many academics the social democrat left is still very anti intellectual in as much as whenever deficiencies of capitalism are raised they are totally dismissive and try to turn discussion to some insipid reform like capital gains tax or drivel on about fairness or something similar. People who would be regarded as left intellectuals elsewhere are branded as left extremist by our establishment left and their voices are seldom heard.

    The parliamentary left simply cannot bear to have their vision of some kind of soft cuddly capitalism questioned – it seems to challenge their very identity.

    On the other hand the right idolises its intellectuals and constantly learns new ways of refining their evil programme from them. It had a plan to destroy what was and replace it with what it wants and has been ruthless in following it through. And if what they are doing is not working for them they analyse where they are going wrong and change.

    Until the left is prepared to actually analyse where we are at, and adopt an equally ruthless programme to destroy the capitalism that sustains the right, we are condemned to chasing our tails in an ever downward spiral.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Now that’s what I call a worthy comment.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      +1

      • Colonial Viper 9.2.1

        We should organise a party sometime.

        • Gosman 9.2.1.1

          Yeah, maybe you could actually do something instead of just talking about it. I’d even make a donation to help you get started.

    • Carol 9.3

      Until the left is prepared to actually analyse where we are at, and adopt an equally ruthless programme to destroy the capitalism that sustains the right, we are condemned to chasing our tails in an ever downward spiral.

      I think there have been those on the left that do a lot of analysing and discussion, and proposing solutions/programmes, and have for a long while – but, as you say, lefty, few on the parliamentary left do. And it’s not being done in an intensively co-ordinated way. It’s certainly not anywhere near central enough in the NZ Labour Party.

      In my experience, there was more of that analysis going on in Britain and Europe in the 70s, but it has since been undermined by the international spread of neoliberalism.

      • Colonial Viper 9.3.1

        I think there have been those on the left that do a lot of analysing and discussion, and proposing solutions/programmes, and have for a long while

        Too many of those solutions/programmes are designed to soften the harshest edges of capitalism, they are not designed to transition the country to brand new economic systems.

        • Carol 9.3.1.1

          Too many of those solutions/programmes are designed to soften the harshest edges of capitalism, they are not designed to transition the country to brand new economic systems.

          That’s certainly true of parliamentary parties and politicians. But then there’s the likes of the discourse within the occupy movement, and before that European neo-marxism of the 60s and 70s.

          In the UK I knew a few people who had been members of the SWP in their youth. They used to say that, whatever they now thought of the SWP, it provided a political education that young people didn’t get elsewhere. They were encourage to read and debate various texts, for instance.

          When I lived in London in the late 70s and 80s, I went to loads of workshops, conferences, WEA classes etc, where there was hot debate, and often intense differences of opinion, between various feminist positions and ideas for solution….ranging through various shades of radical, socialist, liberal and anarchist feminist positions.

          And during the same time there was a whole swathe of small circulation publications coming from within the left wing nd social movements, available in small bookshops etc.

    • bad12 9.4

      Hear here,well said and totally agreed with…

    • Gosman 9.5

      Now we’re talking!

      Bring it on lefty. I would love nothing more to see some left wing party try to push for the destruction of capitalism. I would have so much fun.

      • Tiger Mountain 9.5.1

        “I would love nothing more to see some left wing party try to push for the destruction of capitalism. I would have so much fun.”–Gosman

        well Gozzie it won’t be quite like Wolfie Smith’s Tooting Popular Front, except in your case the bit where Wolfie used to say “come the revolution, you’ll be first up against the wall mate. Bop. Bop. Bop.”

        I agree with leftys analysis #9, the right do value their ideologues and they have deep pockets to fund them.

        It is significant that Mana has passed it’s first stage after the Te Tai Tokerau electoral scramble and has a healthy growing supra parliamentary presence. Sections of the hard (marixist) left are working well with Mana to date. The holy grail and necessary prerequisite for a mass left movement in this country is for progressive “front rower” Māori to develop a strong class analysis and for the pākehā/tauiwi activists to truly deepen their understanding of iwi politics, history and the post colonial dynamic. Unity in practice between these groups will really see sparks fly.

        • Gosman 9.5.1.1

          Good luck with developing that class consciousness amongst Maori. Get back to me when you have achieved that.

          Interesting that there seems to have been more success in developing a Maori elite with the Iwi leadership forum and the various corporate bodies managing the huge number of assets that Maori now control. Seem like capitalist ideals are expanding more rapidly than socialist ones.

          • Tiger Mountain 9.5.1.1.1

            Calling Mr Gossman, done.

            The existence of the ILF, neo tribalism and a small Māori captialist class, the rapid decline of the Māori Party and a disadvantaged iwi member majority all point to the existence of class conciousness among Māori in terms of their social being. Class conciousness does not trump identity politics as academics love to claim but can walk side by side as is shown so far in Te Mana Movement. Māori union members have often been the anchor during tough disputes and on worksites due to their cultural pre disposition to working collectively with others.

            Many people now realise that an ethnic based party is bound to fail or under deliver eventually because it ignores class divisions and interests. Which is the same for social democratic parties who claim to represent “all New Zealanders”. Though there have been periods when useful reforms are instituted as under 1935 Labour Govt. and Working for Families in work tax credit, which I disagree with because it takes the pressure off people to organise and get their own wage increases off employers rather than other tax payers.

            I was talking about adopting a class analysis as a guide to action for a small group of political activists to then influence wider action on issues-mining, oil, workers rights etc. not for all Māori to become keen lefties.

            • Gosman 9.5.1.1.1.1

              Good to see elements of the left keep fighting the good fight on the class struggle. It’s like a lving breathing mueseum like they have in America depicting the early colonials. Go to it comrade!

              • RedLogix

                Simple human decency, dignity and justice never is never old. You can sneer all you like, but you can never shame us.

                In our class struggle we are standing for the poor, the weak and those who have no access to privilege. In that we are proud.

                You on the other hand have effectively argued for the concentration of wealth, the protection of privilege and the further entrenchment of the deep inequality our society is blighted by. I recognise that mind-set; after three decades of neo-liberal indoctrination it’s become deplorably commonplace.

                Once an honourable man would have recognised greed and injustice as something shameful. He would have had the humility to understand that while we will never live in a perfect world and that we that we all fall short of our dreams and ideals… nonetheless he would have held up ideals such as compassion, dignity and equity to be worth striving for.

                But deny it all you like…you’ve been posting here for years and I know that these words mean nothing to you. You are dead to their real meaning.

                • Gosman

                  “You on the other hand have effectively argued for the concentration of wealth, the protection of privilege and the further entrenchment of the deep inequality our society is blighted by.”

                  No.

                  I could equally claim that you are effectively arguing for the oppression of individual freedom and the effective economic hobbling of society. However I also understand you disagree with this view, which is your right, and it is merely my opinion (based by a certain amount of evidence).

                  • KJT

                    Funny how you advocates of individual freedom are advocates of preventing the rights of individuals to organise and withdraw their labour, the rights to be free from poverty, the rights not to be ripped off by business, the rights to be free of search and seizure, the right to make a reasonable living…..etc

                    Same as the RW advocates of personal responsibility never admit responsibility for anything.

                    As to economic hobbling. GFC and austerity, anyone?

                    • Gosman

                      There isn’t too many people who advocate individual freedom that are for preventing the rights of individuals to organise and withdraw their labour. I for one think this is a vital component of any successful economic model based on the free market. That is not to say there shouldn’t be restrictions placed on this right just as there should be restrictions placed on the right of the employer around withdrawing the opportunity to work.

                      You then mix up a number of different ‘rights’ some of which are supported by advocates of individual freedom and some of which won’t be recognised as a right at all (e.g. the right to be free from poverty). Essentially you are misunderstanding and misrepresenting the position of the people you are criticising. It would be like if I stated you hate successful people.

                    • KJT

                      “”There isn’t too many people who advocate individual freedom that are for preventing the rights of individuals to organise and withdraw their labour.””

                      Bollocks. It was not the socialists who bought in the ECA.

                      It was “free market” advocates such as Douglas.

                    • Gosman

                      No where in the ECA was there a suggestion that people can’t organise collectively as far as I was aware. Certainly Union led negotiations were still possible.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Gossie’s version of NZ employment history. Authoritative. Authoritarian.

                    • KJT

                      Still possible, but they could not legally , do anything.

      • Mike 9.5.2

        A left wing party is not required. Capitalism (as we know it) is destroying itself by its very design. It is a mathematical certainty that unless drastic changes are made, the monetary and economic system as we know it will soon collapse, (study the exponential function) . The only question is will it be within the next few years or within the next 20.

        • Gosman 9.5.2.1

          That’s good then. You can all stop worrying about it and just start planning for the inevitable then. I hope you have your alternative system ready to go because I haven’t seen one that works yet.

  10. Too much idealistic theorising and segmenting for my liking. There will never be anywhere near pure neo-liberalism (whatever that actually is),just like there will never be anywhere near pure socialism. Thinking you can eliminate the current least worse mix with one great, fair, everlasting nirvanic system is naive.

    I think the best way of more people getting more power is for more people to find ways of taking more power by finding ways of taking advantage of the current system. It will always be an evolving environment with gains and setbacks along the way.

    But if we focus on more people, more influence, working on improving what we have we are much more likley to achieve something worthwhile. It won’t be as dramatic as a revolution that replaces one imaginary simple corruption with another that guarantees nothing, but it’s do-able if enough people decide it’s worth making the effort.

    A downside is that none of us will get it just the way we want it, because working together means sometimes givng way to majorities, and sometimes accepting compromises because that is better than no change.

    The first step is to realise the futility of labelism.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      Way to make it all go away Pete…

      • Pete George 10.1.1

        Much more chance of some success jumping into the middle of it and doing things that have a chance of getting somewhere – and accepting we still have to co-exist in a much wider world.

        Better than fulminating futile fantasies on the fringes.

        • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1

          Much more chance of some success jumping into the middle of it and doing things that have a chance of getting somewhere

          Like selling off NZ farm land, buying Chinese trains and installing 500 more pokie machines in Auckland.

          Yes, that’s really “getting the nation somewhere” isn’t it.

          Maybe we’d actually be better off as a country without your version of ‘progress’.

        • KJT 10.1.1.2

          Still labouring under the delusion our current Government is centrist, not extreme.

    • Georgecom 10.2

      Pete, there is no need for a ‘pure neo-liberalism’. Neo-liberalism by its very nature is not ‘pure’.

      The ‘purest’ variety of capitalism you might find is that espoused by hardcore libertarianz. Get a slightly disjointed Libertarianz supporter and a slightly disjointed ACT supporter involved in a conversation and the libertarianz will call the neo-liberal ACTist a ‘socialist’ or a ‘communist’.

      Neo-liberalism has a definite slant toward the interests of global capital. Market regulation and market intervention is permitted where it favours the needs of global capital.

      Neo-liberalism is ‘one type’ of capitalism. Just as you have types of socialisms, rather than a ‘pure’ version as you rightly point out.

      • Pete George 10.2.1

        Thanks Georgecom. But…if that’s the case why is neo-liberalism the current evil ideology that must be eliminated?

        How can one call any of our politicians neo-liberals when they practice a mix of impure isms?

        • Georgecom 10.2.1.1

          Two issues Pete, what is Neo-liberalism and why does it need replacing.

          Neo-liberalism has been sufficiently defined I think for the definition to stand on its own merits.

          As to why it needs to be replaced? I’ll make a broad statement, I think it has failed to meet its economic, social and environmental obligations. Anyone who might have argued that it was delivering on its economic obligations must have a hard look at the 2008 economic crisis and subsequent stagnation.

          Neo-liberalism applies a set of policy prescriptions. The degree that each policy is implemented by each nation state or even political party will vary. Taken together however, a package of political policies will or will not conform to a neo-liberal template. National and ACT fit the template.

          • Gosman 10.2.1.1.1

            Your making a gross assumption that the cause of the 2007-2008 GFC was as a result of Neo-liberal economic policies. I suggest this assumption is wrong.

            • KJT 10.2.1.1.1.1

              Not an assumption. Fact. Except to those who go around with their eyes wide shut.

            • Georgecom 10.2.1.1.1.2

              Like I wrote Gosman:
              “Anyone who might have argued that it was delivering on its economic obligations must have a hard look at the 2008 economic crisis and subsequent stagnation.”

              As I wrote that I anticipated some would try to argue that the 2008 economic crisis was somehow caused by ‘socialist policies’ of the US government, or arguments to that effect. Those tired arguments have already been rehearsed and have no more substance to them now than they did back in 2008.

              • Gosman

                I’m not going to argue they are a result of socialist policies. I will argue they aren’t the result of neo-liberal policies though. Easy credit and large government deficits are not neo-liberal.

                • McFlock

                  No true scotsman. pfft.
                  Gos, can you point to a single neoliberal government that has ever existed according to your definition of “neoliberal”?  

                  • Colonial Viper

                    This is like Rusty telling us how amazing Austrian school economics is – despite it never having been implemented and tested out anywhere in the world.

                    • Gosman

                      Much like you and Democratic Socialism then CV.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Not at all – there are real life examples of private multinational co-operatives out there, as well as mutual funds and mutual banks, democratically worker owned co-ops.

                      Fonterra, the Co-operative Bank, Silver Fern Farms are all NZ examples of organisations with strong democratic, co-operative roots.

                  • Gosman

                    Where in neo-liberal economic thinking does it state that you should have easy credit and large govcernment deficits then McChuck?

                    • Georgecom

                      Gosman. At least a couple of issues here.

                      First, neo-liberalism set in place an environment which facilitated the rise of the credit and debt bubble that collapsed in 2008.

                      The neo-liberal template deliberately severed the national level link between wages and consumption that was forged through the 1950-70s. Over that period wage levels were approximately calibrated to productivity growth and maintaining a level of demand within the economy sufficient to permit consumption growth. The neo-liberal template broke that link. Consumption growth was encouraged however the wage growth to match it did not eventuate. Households increasingly relied on other means to supplement consumption including the entry of women into the workforce and, more latterly, borrowing. Debt replaced rising incomes as the engine of consumption growth.

                      The neo-liberal template deliberately stripped away fetters on the movement of capital. Financial markets were widely and deeply deregulated. Increasingly through the 1990s (at least, if not earlier) there was abuild up of excess capital looking for an investment home. Some of that money was invested in the real economy, things attached to real good and real services. Some of it was absorbed into state assets that were sold off by national states. More and more of that excess capital was warehoused in financial products and services with minimal attachment to physical assets. As one area of one economy went bad in 2007-08 the knock on effect contaminated the global economy.

                    • McFlock

                      No gosman,
                      I’m simply asking if any government, ever, has met your definition of “neoliberalism”.
                              
                      Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

                    • McFlock

                      any response, Gosman? Has any government in the history of the planet met your definition of “neoliberalism”?

                    • Gosman

                      Not 100% no. Some have been closer than others but Politician’s tend to act like politician’s and interfere in setting monetary policy and fiscally. In that regard many Keynesian economic prescriptions, (but not all) are easy to implement.

                    • McFlock

                      Right then.  
                         
                      So at best you’re simply going to argue “no true Scotsman”  when KJt says in their post “Country after country adopts Neo-Liberal economics and rapidly goes downhill even by Neo-Liberalism’s own measures such as GDP. And we still believe it is the solution!”.
                            
                      Basically, when you say “neoliberalism” to denote a package of policies you adopt a definition so tight as to be inapplicable in the real world. Rather than actually examining and trying to improve the world as it is now – discussing how to play the hand we’ve all been dealt – you’re once again masturbating to the sound of your own keystrokes. 

                • Georgecom

                  Gosman. Easy credit and large Government deficits are part of neo-liberalism. Ronald McDonald Reagan was an adherent of neo-liberal alchemist economics. For him the govt debt did not matter, even as he grew it substantialy.

                  • Gosman

                    Incorrect. Increased Government spending is not part of neo-liberalism, and certainly not if it is unfunded beyond borrowing.

                    • KJT

                      Bollocks..

                      Fucking things up as much as possible so as to justify Neo-Liberal measures is very much part of Neo-Liberalism.

                      AND. When the austerity measures and de-regulation cause the very problems they are claimed to solve the neo-liberals are back with the cries of TINA.

                      Naomi Klein describes the process very well in “The Shock Doctrine”..

                      http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine.

                      If it is not possible to organise a war, then organise a debt crisis.

    • KJT 10.3

      As usual PG. A lot of words to say nothing.

  11. If you see the postwar boom as the result of the 30s depression and 2nd WW were the survival of capitalism required not only wars but massive state intervention to smash and restructure production,  and that boom coming to an end as the rate of profit began to fall in the 1960s, then neo-liberalism is really a return to business as usual with a post-modern spin. Its not specially brutal, greedy, hippy or whatnot capitalism, but normal capitalism.
    Neo-liberalism is really a return to classic liberalism with GPS missiles instead of blunderbusses. The Chicago School would have stayed at school and taught Hayek to bored kids unless had not the CIA and Ngo Dinh Diem, Suharto, Pinochet, the Greek Colonels etc., staged coups and supplied weapons so they could smash the workers movements, especially the mass communist parties, and introduce more market reforms. 
    The problem is capitalism not (neo)liberalism. Capitalism has exhausted its range of neo-liberal solutions to its falling profits and still hasnt solved the problem of falling profits. China’s ironic Keynesian finger is not immune to falling profits. So more asset sales, more debt, more bailouts, followed by more street fighting, general strikes and insurrections are coming to a good place near you.
    Follow Michael Roberts blog http://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/the-austerity-debate/  he’s got most of its covered including critiques of the range of left theories of crisis.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1

      The problem is capitalism not (neo)liberalism.

      Bingo!

      Follow Michael Roberts blog

      Man, he makes long posts – then again, so does Steve Keen.

      • KJT 11.1.1

        Capitalism works very well, probably the most effective at allocation on a micro level.

        At the level of market gardens, builders, corner stores and small business capitalism is as good a system as any.

        When it is democratically regulated so it cannot be gamed, wealth cannot be aggregated by a few and costs are properly allocated it works fine.

        CGT, FTT, progressive taxation, wealth taxes and inheritance taxes are legitimate means of making it work for the majority. Preventing dysfunctional accumulations of wealth and power.
        As we have seen recently, inequality, excessive wealth and concentration of power make capitalism dysfunctional.

        Some functions, like banking, schooling and regulation should never be left to “the market”.

        The mixed socialist capitalist economies of, Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, the USA and others have worked fine until they were recently captured by Neo-Liberal thought.

        Personally I do not much like the term Neo-Liberalism.
        Neo-Conservatism is actually more appropriate.
        It is an attempt to roll back the gains in people power since the enlightenment.
        Neo-Liberalism though is now generally understood as a catchall term for the fight back against the power of ordinary people, to change to fairer wealth and power allocation.

        Yes we do need to change the system.

        We need to prevent the accumulation of power and wealth in fewer and fewer hands. A natural result of unfettered markets.
        We need to make sure we have a true democracy of educated and informed voters.
        Where no one is wealthy enough to buy power.

        In New Zealand, for a period, everyone was effectively middle class. Unions, welfare, free healthcare, state housing and free schooling meant most of us, including the traditional working class, had middle class lifestyles and aspirations.

        Now! We have over 20% in a poverty trap so a few can get richer. That is the shamefull result of Neo_Liberal thought.

        • Gosman 11.1.1.1

          It is not true that the mixed models worked well until they were captured by what you deem to be neo-liberalism. The policy prescriptions introduced by various countries from the 1970’s onwards were in response to specific problems that were occuring at that time. Unemployment was rising along with inflation and Government spending. Increased State sector spending didn’t seem to be helping. This flew in the face of traditional economic thinking of the day which suggested spending more when the economy was in the doldrums was the best way. At this stage you could have continued to keep with policies that didn’t seem to be working or you could try something else. That something else was what has been branded neo-liberalism but could equally have been somthing like Social Credit or even full blown Socialism. The point is that doing the same thing as what was being done and hoping the outcome would be different would have been crazy.

          • KJT 11.1.1.1.1

            So.

            You would agree then, that after 30 years of failure to deliver the promised improvement we should change the current Neo-liberal policy settings.

            Obviously they are the wrong response.

            And I would not say the delivery of a high standard of living to almost everyone in the populations of those countries was a failure.

            Owing too much to profit taking, in those days English, firms and banks had more to do with problems than State spending.
            Then, as now, too much of our economy was owned and controlled from offshore.

            • Gosman 11.1.1.1.1.1

              What improvement are you looking for? I’d suggest that the world is in much better shape economically than it was in the 1970’s for those countries who have opened up their economies and follow sensible economic policies. Certainly places like China and India are enjoying far higher standards of living than when they were closed. Even places in the West have more choice in terms of items that contribute to enjoyment of life than they did in the 1970’s as well as having less disruptions like black outs and shortages of basic goods and services.

              • KJT

                If you think swapping being able to feed and house a family on one income to having cheaper flat screen TV’s was an improvement.

                As for China and India.
                They would have been much better of directing production internally to make life better for their own people, rather than putting their resources into cheap junk for overseas corporates to profit.

                The fallacy of the open economy shows when they have to lend to the USA to enable them to buy their products.

                • Gosman

                  Funnily enough that is what China and India attempted to do prior to opening up the economy in the last 20 or so years. India especially tried various internal import substitution type strategies which met with the same level of success as when all countries, (including NZ), tried this. Poor quality products and low productivity.

                  • KJT

                    That is what the USA and UK did to make them the most successful economies in the world in their time.

                    China, South Korea are now supporting developing and improving their own local manufacturing. India has thrown the country open. Which is growing and improving their standards of living fastest?

                    • Gosman

                      Wrong. The UK and the uS became the most successful economies in their time by opening up their economies to free trade. It is arguable that the decline in the British empire stemmed from the moment it became far more protectionist.

                    • KJT

                      Gosman. Now you have totally departed from reality.

                      What can possibly be more protectionist than using world wide military power to ensure that trade was on your terms.

                      Britain ensured they only imported commodities, which they paid for with shoddy manufactured goods. Sound familiar.

                      The USA became successful when they became powerful enough to override British protectionism with their own.

          • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1.1.2

            Yep, Keynesianism was wrong, that doesn’t make neo-liberalism right. Both are responses to the Crisis of Capitalism, the problem of declining profit as productivity increases and the market becomes saturated. The export led recovery is a blatant example of it – producing more than what is needed at the local level just to maintain profits for the few while everyone else drops further into poverty.

            • KJT 11.1.1.1.2.1

              Keynes was right.

              He was describing what actually happened.

              The new deal showed it worked as advertised.

              Neo-Liberalism has a religious basis because the only ones who thinks it works as advertised are the faithful.

              Real world evidence shows it only works for the thieves! Who know damn well it does not work for the rest of us.

              • Gosman

                I don’t think you understand Keynesian economics if you think The New Deal represents it.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Keynes was wrong because he was still pushing the infinite growth barrow. We need to accept that infinite growth is impossible and that we need to live in a stable state economy. More efficiency, better, higher quality products? great. But once saturation happens for a particular product then we need to look at what else we can do with the freed up resources and not look for ways that try to increase sales of that same product.

                • KJT

                  I agree with you, but, to be fair to Keynes, I do not think in his times resource depletion was on most peoples horizon.

                  His theories on stimulus and economic effects were derived directly from observation of recent events such as the new deal.

                  I don’t think Freidman, Hayek and Von Mises ever looked at reality except for its inconvenient refusal to follow their hypothesis.

                  Their experiment has gone on way too long.

        • Mike 11.1.1.2

          Capitalism would work a lot better if it was practiced according to some of the other things old Mr invisible hand Smith suggested such as “pay your workers well as they generate your capital” (something like that) and “don’t tax the workers, tax capital and land” (or something like that). Not that I agree with most of Smith’s doctrine, especially the invisible hand which in reality he was deeply religious and meant God would fix the market when it couldn’t fix itself.

          • Jim Nald 11.1.1.2.1

            Most people who refer to Adam Smith only have read, if indeed they have put their hands on his book, just half or part of his book. And quite selectively.

            The ‘Wealth of Nations’ is not just a work in economics but moral philosophy.

            See, for eg, http://www.philosophersbeard.org/2011/10/recovering-adam-smiths-ethical.html

            • KJT 11.1.1.2.1.1

              Reading Smith and Marx at the same time was interesting. They are not as far apart as you would think.

              I don’t think Smith would agree with modern “free marketeers” use of some of his ideas.

              • Draco T Bastard

                I don’t think Smith would agree with modern “free marketeers” use of some of his ideas.

                Nope, he was quite sure that banks in particular needed to be regulated. I believe one of the reasons for doing so was the banks tendency to print money – a tendency they still have today and that lack of regulation and oversight is letting them get away with.

            • Puddleglum 11.1.1.2.1.2

              And his The Theory of Moral Sentiments

              I’m reading Wealth of Nations (paperback) again at the moment and trying to read Theory of Moral Sentiments alongside it (kindle version).

              Someone told me that you have to read Theory of Moral Sentiments to understand Wealth of Nations properly. In TMS he discusses the fundamental human capacity for ‘sympathy’ (understood very broadly, not just in the casual sense of feeling sorry for someone and expressing solidarity with them). For Smith, it underpins the whole mechanism of exchange in a market.

              In fact, George Herbert Mead got his idea about the ‘generalised other’ from Smith’s ideas. Mead realised that the behaviour of trading required a person to adopt the perspective of ‘the other’, including how the other sees you. (Even more interestingly, Darwin also attributed the inspiration for his theory of evolution by natural selection to Smith’s abstract analysis of competitive markets.) 

  12. Georgecom 12

    Neo-liberalism because clear for me (I think anyway) about 12 months ago. Link here:
    link

    The Washington consensus of the 1980s established an supra national template that stresses primacy of the market and the need for capital to operate with as few fetters on it as possible. This template is overlaid across nation states to convert them into ‘transmission belt’ states attuned and harnessed to the demands of global capital.

    An international discourse of businesses confidence embeds the structures of market competition and drives nation states to compete amongst themselves for the attentions of global capital. The narrative of business confidence becomes structurally paramount thereby subordinating the state to capital’s will and market forces. A closed cycle feedback loop is created which disciplines nation states to privilege the demands of global capital over domestic interests. The necessity to secure business confidence and attract capital investment requires subordination to the market. Ongoing subordination to the market becomes the necessity to maintain business confidence and retain capital investment.

    Nation states become facilitators for international capital whilst the interests of nation state and global capital converge. Nation states are locked into this cycle. Nation states ‘bend or are bent toward the neo-liberal project’. The ‘transmission belt’ nation states pass downward the competitive pressures exerted by the transnational forces and nations domestic policies are attuned to the demands of global capital.

    The Clark Labour government attempted a third way approach which sought to meld (mild) social democratic social policy with neo-liberal economic policy, to ‘social democratise neo-liberalism’. Contrary to what some of the more unbalanced right wingers scream about the Clark Government being communist, what actually unfolded was the ‘neo-liberalism of social democracy’.

    I think recent issues like the Government coughing up $20 million and a law change for Peter Jackson, the POA dispute and the Sky City convention centre buy off with a law change can all be explained by the analysis above.

  13. Nick C 13

    I think your conception of the ‘winning ticket’ which only a few of us get is seriously problematic in an age where tertiary education is easily accessable to anyone who doesnt totally screw up their life before they graduate high school (i.e. by taking drugs, getting involved with gangs, having a kid), it doesnt even require above average grades or devoting your life to study these days. From their you can choose any degree or vocation knowing full well your likely income prospects in each occupation.

    Suppose I come from a middle class family, go to a good public school and get into university, get good grades, and enter a law firm and climb the ladder with good odds of earning a 6 figure salary before I hit 45. At what point exactly do I get my ‘winning ticket?’ Can it all just be put down to natural ability from birth? Does everyone who makes it out of high school have the winning ticket simply by virtue of not having screwed up their life? Do I choose my winning ticket by picking a high income profession?

    And then of course there are the John Keys of the world whos silver spoon amounted to being born in a state house.

    • McFlock 13.1

      John Key’s winning ticket was being in a country that had state housing and almost free education, and no doubt there was some good fortune in his work networks. Yes, hard work was a part of it, but many NZers today don’t have that ticket.
            
      But the best example in the current crop is ofcourse Paula Bennett, who had the winning ticket of a more expansive income support system than today, and pulled the ladder up after her so nobody else could use it.
         
      The good fortune of being born middle class and its accompanying educational advantages is not what anyone should call “natural ability”. It’s luck, pure and simple.

      • Nick C 13.1.1

        I sort of agree with what you’re saying, but I suspect the author of this post wont. It seems to me like hes saying that a tiny minority of us are guarenteed wealth and security if not from birth then from a really young age, whilst the rest are condemned to poverty.

        But most children in New Zealand who were born at the time were born into similar (or better) circumstances as Key and Bennett; being born into state housing puts you near the bottom of the pile to win this so called ticket. So all of these people, simply by virtue of being born into a country with decent welfare systems and good education have a winning ticket, then why arent they all as successful as Key and Bennett?

        Answer: Choices. Some people just make bad decisions. They may well be decisions they regret later (or not, many people are willing to make the trade off of lower income for not studying as hard), but they were their decisions to make.

        • Colonial Viper 13.1.1.1

          But most children in New Zealand who were born at the time were born into similar (or better) circumstances as Key and Bennett; being born into state housing puts you near the bottom of the pile to win this so called ticket.

          Key and Bennett were both born before Rogernomics and well before Ruthanasia.

          We actually had a democratic socialist state back then, one that you and your predecessors cheered the destruction of.

          Answer: Choices. Some people just make bad decisions. They may well be decisions they regret later (or not, many people are willing to make the trade off of lower income for not studying as hard), but they were their decisions to make.

          Don’t be fucking stupid. See above what the real answer is.

          BTW every young person makes dumb decisions – the question is whether or not we have a society and a community which helps them out with a second chance.

          • Colonial Viper 13.1.1.1.1

            By the way, your assertion that Key and Bennett are “successful” is a total pisstake.

          • Nick C 13.1.1.1.2

            Then go back to my original comment: When did I get the winning ticket? We still have a public school and university system to give people oppourtunites, and short of totally destroying your life before you turn 18 you can always access those oppourtunities. Fees on tertiary education exist but they are small and have almost no effect on access to tertiary education as the government will let you borrow no matter whether it thinks you can pay the debt back. Furthermore people are able to work out what their income prospects are when choosing a degree

            Even if we accept that Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson fundamentally destroyed the welfare system that wouldnt predict the sort of effects you are talking about. The majority of New Zealanders are still born into households which are not on welfare (unless you count WFF). Why are only a few elites excelling when most are still born with the ability to access oppourtunity?

            Side note: Has anyone read ‘The Bell Curve’ or ‘Coming Apart’, both books by Charles Murray?

            • McFlock 13.1.1.1.2.1

              Dude, your winning ticket was being born middle class.

              • Nick C

                But a whole lot of people are middle class! The whole point of the winning thing is that only a tiny minority get it.

                • McFlock

                  Not as many people are born into the upbringing that was “middle class” 20 years ago.
                     
                  Lots of people win 5th division. It gives them just enough to keep playing. Some might even make a few dollars profit. But the $20mil wahoonie is saved for the likes of the ones who walk into daddy’s multinational fresh out of uni.
                      
                  The trouble with the neolib model, to extend the analogy, is that it means that there are fewer div5,4 and 3 winners, but slightly more Div1&2. And your chances of winning div1 increase exponentially if mummy and daddy won it.

                • rosy

                  Okay… the (lotto) lucky card. Lets narrow it down a bit…
                  1. You won lotto div 5 by being born middle class. Lots of people share that, but more people don’t win div 5 than do.

                  2. It went up to being div 4 by not having adverse events happening in your childhood. Every adverse event you missed out of (a catastrophic health event, car crash, divorced parents, parents who smack each other around or hit you around, strong family or community network, not moving around for seasonal work, not being a victim of random crime… shall I go on?) reduces the number of people you have to share the divisional prize with.

                  3. You win division 3 when you got through school without being bullied, having a teacher that had high expectations of you, had a ‘natural’ talent at something, no dysexia or other learning difficulty, parents who made sure you were school-ready (lunch, proper clothing, glasses, healthy) and did your homework, you didn’t have to stay home to look after the kids/mother/granny etc, or help out the parents with the cleaning business, takeaways at nights when you were too young to manage it. Your parents took you to sports and paid for class events and transport to them. Once again the pot is shared with fewer people each time you can tick one of these off.

                  4. Division 2 comes in when you were good at a subject that pays well (or you were an awesome entrepreneur – most are only average or worse) and you managed to get accepted on the course. You managed to get through your risky teens without an error that cost you dearly – think of anything teenagers/young adults do for narrowing the pool on that one. Bonus points if you actively made decisions to avoid all risky situations – because it only takes one bad decision – with a roll of the dice about whether you’ll be paying for it for a very long time- to come out without life-changing consequences.

                  5. Division One arrives when based on all the other wins you get chosen for the right job, with the right boss/mentor to ensure you excel if you work hard. You change jobs at the right time, the company doesn’t go bust or hire a complete idiot to manage you… etc, etc, and there you go – the gold-plated lucky card.

                  6. Add into that choosing the right life partner, the right children a house in the right area that doesn’t get earthquaked, or something – jackpot! And your kids share this too, because you’ve learned from winning division one and from not missing out on all those other divisions along the way and you transfer that knowledge.

                  • RedLogix

                    That’s a genuinely great comment. I really enjoyed reading it.

                  • Carol

                    +1

                    And going back to the law example. I understand having the right family connections in older generations of lawyers helps in getting a high status position in a law firm…. people don’t encourage “networking” to improve your job prospects for no reason.

                    It’s often not what you know, or how successful or capable you are, but who you know, and how you know them. Some people get selected to be actively mentored through the job promotion obstacle course.

                    • KJT

                      Good, but you forgot the right private school.

                      So you are plugged into the old boy network.
                      So your parent can talk the cops out of putting you in jail.

                      Having sufficient family money.

                      So if you have learning difficulties, dyslexia or low intelligence you get help.
                      So you have more than one go at being an entrepreneur/business owner before the money runs out. Ordinary people have at most, one attempt in their lifetime.

                      The democratic socialist society which allowed people like my father, Paula Bennet, John Key and many others to escape the class they were born into has been systematically dismantled.

                      The chances of a Maori child from Otara, or even today’s Paula Bennets and John Keys, getting a good start in life and a secure decently paid job are now, almost nil.

                  • felix

                    Awesome comment rosy, and a brilliant analogy. Should be a post.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Ups from me too.

        • McFlock 13.1.1.2
           
           

          Two guys at their time of death:
          one guy (A) is 90, dies wealthy, ran a large company, best private care to the end, couple of gongs.
          The other guy (B) is 57, dies from a treatable condition that was exacerbated by the environment he lived in, quite poor, possibly in prison.
               
          Both guys were once healthy babies, full of potential.
          A baby’s chance of being guy A is greatly assisted by being born rich, with decreasing probability as the baby’s family wealth decreases.
          Even the poorest baby could become guy A, even if he slips off the rails a bit. There are a number of intervention points throughout his life where he can get back to being guy A, but they become more expensive and less effective as the baby grows (e.g. prison vs a plunket nurse).
          Even the rich baby that makes the best choices can be overtaken by events and end up like B, but the chances re pretty slim.
              
          And then we get into the debate of how much our perceived chioces are shaped by our environment. But the real point is that luck of birth and upbringing counts just as much (if not more) than “personal choice”. I’ve got a pretty good lifestye, despite making bad choices. That’s good luck. I am vary aware that thereare other poor bastards where the coin toss went the other way.

          • RedLogix 13.1.1.2.1

            And then we get into the debate of how much our perceived chioces are shaped by our environment.

            Yes. There’s a whole new word for that…”epigenetics”. Turns out life changes us far more than we ever suspected.

            • locus 13.1.1.2.1.1

              What is epigenetics? I had no idea so looked around and found this excellent Time magazine article.. For those of you who don’t know about epigenetics this is a the (short) story of how it started.

              In David Shenk’s words: epigenetics is helping usher in a “new paradigm” that “reveals how bankrupt the phrase ‘nature versus nurture’ really is.” He calls epigenetics “perhaps the most important discovery in the science of heredity since the gene.”

              Dr. Lars Olov Bygren’s data — along with those of many other scientists working separately over the past 20 years — have given birth to a new science called epigenetics. At its most basic, epigenetics is the study of changes in gene activity that do not involve alterations to the genetic code but still get passed down to at least one successive generation. These patterns of gene expression are governed by the cellular material — the epigenome — that sits on top of the genome. It is these epigenetic “marks” that tell your genes to switch on or off, to speak loudly or whisper. It is through epigenetic marks that environmental factors like diet, stress and prenatal nutrition can make an imprint on genes that is passed from one generation to the next.

          • Mike 13.1.1.2.2

            Which brings to mind a study I read or heard about somewhere that shows one of the major factors causing bad health and dying younger , which are far more prevalent amongst the less well off is stress due to being poor and the damage that stress does to the body. It showed that lack of access to good healthcare due to finances was far far less of a contributor than the stress of poverty and of feeling excluded from society.

        • Draco T Bastard 13.1.1.3

          Answer: Choices. Some people just make bad decisions.

          Nope, the answer is that some people are psychopathic and are willing to impoverish others to make themselves wealthy. Most people can’t actually do that.

          • Descendant Of Smith 13.1.1.3.1

            And some (many) of us have a tendency to impoverish ourselves to make others lives better – and some of this may be environmental and some of this may be genetic.

            The ongoing research on similarities between twins separated at birth seems to indicate somewhere around 40% to 45% percent of many of your traits and behaviors are genetic.

            It’s interesting growing up in a family who have always given of themselves whether through time, labour, protest or simply by giving people things cause they need them more than you.

            Leadership is quite evident, many of us were captains of sports teams for instance from an early age, most have held positions in organisations such as Treasurer, many of us simply give away stuff.

            I remember attending an uncles funeral not too long ago and us noticing a young local Maori girl at the back of the room. none of us knew her and asked her whether she had known our uncle.

            She met him once a month when for the last two years he dropped her off a load of firewood for free. She was a sole parent with no local family and my uncle simply did it because it was needed and he could. She came to pay her respects because of simple kindness.

            What I do know is that I could never ever be a money trader, a used cars salesman, a seller of unnecessary products, a large profit taker.

            It goes against every fibre of my being to sell things to people for profit. My time working in the banking industry reinforced that. Thieves and charlatans.

            Why – I don’t know but I suspect it is simply a mixture of both environment and genetics.

            I am satisfied by simply helping and giving, by proving service.

          • prism 13.1.1.3.2

            DTB I think that is partly true. But some people settle early on a goal and put all their energies to it, and don’t mess up or have adverse circumstances they can’t overcome on their way to being a success and getting money.

            I was listening to a young Vietnamese who came here as a refugee on his own as a 13 year old on Radionz recently. He sounds very clear and focussed and determined but not psychopathic. He has just done the right thing at the right time and kept working at it.. But unlike others who are or become psychopathic and greedy, he makes time to think of others who have difficulties and helps them with his expertise.

    • rosy 13.2

      “And then of course there are the John Keys of the world whos silver spoon amounted to being born in a state house”

      Of course you do realise that he wasn’t born in a state house, don’t you? He was born to a (failed) entrepreneur father who died young and a hard-working mother who was devoted to her children’s opportunities… After his father died they moved from Auckland to Christchurch. This is where the took care of the family’s housing needs. He owes a huge amount to a benevolent state and a devoted mother – hugely lucky cards that many these days don’t get to play with.

      • freedom 13.2.1

        John Key has repeatedly said he started to get ahead and build his aspirational future when his mother bought a flat allowing them to leave the State house system. It is the hard working mum and her throwing off the shackles of State support that made him the man he is today and we all could learn a thing or two from this selfless and heroic act. What he does not mention quite as often is that his mother was able to buy that flat with a Government loan.

        he admitted this on breakfast a month ago and as always it just slid on by, as if it never happened.

        • Carol 13.2.1.1

          Add to that, a mother with a background that gave her the knowledge of how to work through the system to her advantage. Not all children have that sort of parent.

  14. Olwyn 14

    The bit that is getting overlooked in this discussion is the point made by Georgecom regarding the Washington Consensus: “Nation states become facilitators for international capital whilst the interests of nation state and global capital converge. Nation states are locked into this cycle. Nation states ‘bend or are bent toward the neo-liberal project.”

    It is not just about who can succeed within this framework, and whether or not their success is deserved, but the framework itself. People do succeed within the mafia, becoming made men and so on, but the morally questionable nature of the mafia eclipses questions as to whether guy A deserves to be a made man or guy B deserved to get knee -capped. Within the framework of nation states being facilitators for international capital, decent pay or working conditions at the bottom, public housing, etc, count as “money that could be put to better use.” Under such circumstances, everyone who prospers does so largely at the expense of the living conditions of those below them on the food chain, whether they want it to be like that or not, and whether they deserve it or not.

  15. KJT 15

    I cannot take credit for the “winning ticket” analogy. That was a very good post by Chris Trotter.
    http://bowalleyroad.blogspot.co.nz/

  16. BLiP 16

    His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of neoliberalism. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Market was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself — that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.

    (Apologies to George)

    • Gosman 16.1

      Another boring ‘1984’ analogy is it BLiP?

      Is there some sort of internet meme about ‘1984’ like Godwin’s law?

      • KJT 16.1.1

        Is modern day USA so different from George’s 1984.

        Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq. Being fed Fox news. Strip searches, solitary confinement for “outing” the Government!

        • Gosman 16.1.1.1

          Ummmm….yes it is very different. The fact you equate the two suggests you may have lost track on reality somewhat.

          • KJT 16.1.1.1.1

            🙂

          • Bored 16.1.1.1.2

            Gos, you seem oblivious to the similarity between”1984″ and a regime that promotes rendition, torture, the suspension of habeus corpus, imprisonment without charge or trial etc if you are deemed a “terrorist”. I would suggest KJT has his eyes open to reality and the 1984 analogy is very accurate.

            Which begs the question: Unless you too are a proponent of the above how can you deliberately ignore the reality that they exist?

            • Gosman 16.1.1.1.2.1

              I would agree all those things aren’t good but there are still substantial checks and balances in the US system.

              Check this clip out from a recent episode of the Daily Show where John Stewart interviews a Harvard Law professor who served in the Department of Justice

              http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/wed-april-4-2012/jack-goldsmith

            • Mike 16.1.1.1.2.2

              Great Britain is probably moving towards a 1984 type police state more quickly than the US is now.

              Amongst some of the more recent laws enacted and soon to be enacted over there include:

              -It is now illegal to photograph a police officer, even on your own property.
              -You can be stopped by police anywhere anytime for no reason. Even if you’re just walking down the street you have to have id on you. If not you’re off to the nick.
              -Soon, if you pull into a gas station and your rego or insurance is not up to date, the number plate recognition system will connect to the pump system and prevent your vehicle from getting any petrol
              -All parking wardens now have miniature spy video cameras hidden on their name badges and all dealings with the public are recorded.
              -There’s an estimated 4,800,000 CCTV cameras in britain now making it’s citizens the most ‘under surveillance’ in the world.
              -It is against the law to peacefully protest in Britain, you have to obtain a license from the police granting permission first.
              -If you put your rubbish bin out accidentally (or not) on the wrong day you are fined.
              -You will soon be fined up to 400 pounds for putting (for example) a glass bottle in the wrong bin for recycling.
              – Soon, all emails, txts, phonecalls, internet searches, web page visits and so on will be fully monitored and recorded for the government to use however it wishes.
              – Soon, all cell phones sold will have compulsory GPS enabled as will all cars.
              – Retailers are to be told to advise police and provide any possible details of customers who pay with cash.

              And so on..

              • Colonial Viper

                Reminds me of V for Vendetta.

              • KJT

                Anyone read New Zealand’s search and surveillance bill?

              • Carol

                Ah, and I remember the days when the idea of an ID card was rejected by the majority of Brits as being against civil liberties. It was against the law to ask anyone for the drivers license as an ID.

                Ah, Thatcher’s lot have a lot to answer for.

                I think it always required permission for a protest in the UK.

                But, geez! Having retailers report you for using cash! That’s diabolical!

              • felix

                “-It is now illegal to photograph a police officer, even on your own property.
                -You can be stopped by police anywhere anytime for no reason. Even if you’re just walking down the street you have to have id on you. If not you’re off to the nick.”

                There’s your police state right there. Coming soon to a South Pacific nation near you.

                • Colonial Viper

                  It’s not so bad, this stuff is just like China. If 3M Tibetans live like this, maybe we can too.

  17. John72 17

    The first of the 4 Noble Truths which Buddha taught was “Life is suffering”.
    We all suffer in some way.
    Some face this suffering and grow. Many weap incessantly and are difficult to live with. Accept the suffering life presents, conquere it and mature. You are not alone, for 1000’s of years mankind has debated the meaning of life. I quote other people because nothing is new. So many have asked “why am I here?” Be humble and acknowledge that you do not know why.
    Genesis 4:9 “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

    • BLiP 17.1

      Very good of the 1% to come up with such a fine model to make sure the suffering is tip top, eh? Obviously, they are doing God’s Buddha’s Gaia’s Tooth Fairy’s Xenu’s (insert fear of death displacement figure)’s work.

      Jesus really isn’t as much fun as he was before the capitalists co-opted him to their cause. Still, he did set a fine example in throwing the money changers from the temple. What did silly ole New Zealand do? We elected one Prime Minister. Serves us right, I guess. All together now . . . ♫ ♪ another day older, and deeper in debt ♪ ♫

    • Olwyn 17.2

      You should have included the next sentence John72, where God says to Cain, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground, etc.” It seems he was mistaken in thinking he was not his brother’s keeper.

    • Bored 17.3

      Am I my brothers keeper? There are so many one liners you could use to answer that like, “No man is an island”, and “do unto others as you would unto yourself”……

      I have lots of friends who are right wing in the extreme, (and lots of lefties as friends as well). The one thing I always stress to them is that we all die and all that is left is in somebodies memory. I want to be remembered as “kind, considerate and generous”. That I would suggest is at odds with the ideological extremes of neo liberalism.

      • Gosman 17.3.1

        And I would argue that no it isn’t, or at least that your understanding of ‘neo-liberalism’ is not really what it is about at all.

        • BLiP 17.3.1.1

          Argue? Stomp your little feet, more like.

          See, kindess, consideration, and generosity are individual weaknesses in the neoliberal paradigm. It inverts goodness in the name of goodness. The model rewards selfish actions on the basis that, really, its good for everyone so it requires its participants . . .

          . . . to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them . . .

          . . . geddit?

          You bored, Gosman?

          • Gosman 17.3.1.1.1

            ‘See, kindess, consideration, and generosity are individual weaknesses in the neoliberal paradigm.’

            That is just your personal prejudice coming through. Charity is not at odds with right leaning free market economic thinking. Indeed it is often encouraged and promoted.

            • BLiP 17.3.1.1.1.1

              Charity is essential to the neolberal thinking for it serves as a clear demarkation and provides part the psychological incentives for detaching humans from their pesky altruistic tendencies. In a neoliberal society it would be considered an act of kindness, charity even, to allow children of the indigent to clean the chimneys of the “winners”.

            • Bored 17.3.1.1.1.2

              Gos, extreme greed drives neo liberalism in practice: by definition greed has a negative impact, it cannot be good. KJT is correct, greed as justified by neo libs is an inversion of goodness to justify what is actually harmful. Means do not justify ends.

            • KJT 17.3.1.1.1.3

              Yep. Give them just enough so they do not rebel.

    • KJT 17.4

      Yep. Very noble of 20% of our children to suffer in poverty so 1% in NZ can increase their wealth, by 17% this last year.

      • Colonial Viper 17.4.1

        Ahhhh that’s good framing mate.

      • DJ 17.4.2

        I will be upfront and honest here. I neither understand or care what neoliberalism is. I have no idea what some of you are rambling on about and again nor do I care.

        But I do know this about all of you ideologists, conspiracy theorists and revolutionaries on here. The few hundred of you are what ….. about 0.0075% of the NZ population. Around the world, say every country had the same amount of believers in your ideologies. That would make a total of 450000 people.

        Good luck with your revolution!

        • McFlock 17.4.2.1

          So you have no idea what’s going on or what people are talking about, but you are sure that nothing will change.
             
          Cheers for the heads up. /sarc

    • just saying 17.5

      I’ve looked back up the thread a bit, and it’s not apparent to me. Exactly what is the relationship of your comment at 17 to the subject at hand?

      Are you advocating passive acceptance of the political status quo or what?

      • Colonial Viper 17.5.1

        Yes, the Buddha said that suffering and dissatisfaction is an intrinsic part of the human condition. He also said that the ability to transcend and end suffering is an intrinsic part of the human condition.

        John72 of course states the first half, but not the second half.

    • just saying 17.6

      I see you are active on another thread John72.
      You posted the above. Does it have any relevance to the subject at hand or did you just chuck it in for effect?

  18. Kevin 18

    Neo-liberals that have evolved from the libertarian school of politics are really anachists in drag. When push comes to shove neo-liberals will default to their true political identities: Fascists.

  19. Bored 19

    Gos, hoisted on your own petard. “All those things are’nt good”….so they do happen despite “substantial checks and balances”. They are legislated for, they exist, they happen. Your statement even accepts that. So what part dont you get?

    These are “1984” actions, and your miserable defense of them puts you firmly into the totalitarian camp (left or right doesn’t matter to an ideological nutbar). As a rightist why dont you just come out and say to us all “I am a fascist”?

    • Gosman 19.1

      What?!?

      Did you bother checking out that link I provided or have you simply made up your mind already and refuse to counternance any other view?

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 19.1.1

        As a rightist why dont you just come out and say to us all “I am a fascist”?

        Dick.

        • Bored 19.1.1.1

          Mr Gormless, in context please. I asked him that not because he was a rightist: (but if you read the bit before) he is an apologist for totalitarianism (as evidenced by acceptance of rendition etc). If he was a leftist I would have asked him if he was the dreadful C word (not much difference between them when you are being water boarded, sleep deprived, electrocuted etc..all the same to me).

      • Bored 19.1.3

        I did watch it, and at no stage were the fact of rendition, torture, habeus corpus violation etc etc denied as happening. Yes there are checks and balances that appear to be discretionary and obviously underutilized. A little bit of renting the cloth to appear pure, no denying the reality. All very 1984.

        • Gosman 19.1.3.1

          No, in 1984 they locked ANY opposition to Big Brother up and subjected them to torture when there was no recourse. As that interview highlighted even the non-American terrorist suspects kept at Guantanamo have the right to appeal to higher authorities and challenge their conditions. In short there is a rule of law which is a break on excessive powers of the State even if it is imperfect.

          • Colonial Viper 19.1.3.1.1

            Gossie…there is a very clear reason why those “enemy combatants” were held in Guanatamo. And circumventing the rule of law and the criminal justice system was at the top of the list.

            As that interview highlighted even the non-American terrorist suspects kept at Guantanamo have the right to appeal to higher authorities and challenge their conditions. In short there is a rule of law which is a break on excessive powers of the State even if it is imperfect.

            *Sigh* these activities are conducted under the auspices of the military code of justice, which is NOT the “rule of law”.

            See above – this is exactly why Guanatnamo exists.

  20. McFlock 20

    Saddam Hussein has been a great friend to America.
    Saddam Hussein has always been a great enemy to America.

  21. captain hook 21

    Neo-liberalism is when we have a civil society.
    That is when working people know their place and dont speak up.
    Its even better when they tug their forelocks and grovel.

  22. captain hook 22

    on a more recondite examination neo-liberalism is this.
    when liberalism was coined it meant a certain state of affairs.
    now the states of affairs have changed and the new owner operators need a certain creation myth to enhance their lives so they adopt something that they really aren’t.
    the freedoms that liberalism promised have been progressively eroded and then denied as a new autocracy of lets face it, accountants are in charge.
    watch out.
    its all going to happen soon.

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  • Climate Change: As predicted
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  • Let this never be forgot
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  • Mental Health Commission back on track
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  • Electoral law breach allegations
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  • Week That Was: Supporting our schools
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  • Addressing miscarriages of justice
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  • Tax-free deployments for Kiwi troops
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  • A balanced Zero Carbon Bill passed
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  • Paramedics’ status to be recognised
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  • Week That Was: 2,000 teachers in two years
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  • Winning an election one conversation at a time
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  • Ambassador to the European Union announced
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  • Making progress for our kids
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  • Māori women in business contribute to our economy, whānau and communities
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  • Families Package helps over 1 million New Zealanders in first year
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  • Boosting border security with electronic travel authority – now over 500,000 issued
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  • Plan of action to protect seabirds
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  • National interest test added to overseas investment rules
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  • New housing part of support for Kaumātua
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  • Two decades of marine protection celebrated at Te Tapuwae o Rongokako in Tairawhiti
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  • Modern emergency care for Queenstown area
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  • Contraception important for New Zealanders
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  • Disability Action Plan 2019 – 2023
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  • Joint Statement – Third Singapore-New Zealand Defence Ministers’ Meeting
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  • Sexual Violence Legislation Bill has its first reading
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  • Streamlined business invoicing a step closer
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  • More frontline biosecurity officers protecting NZ
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  • NZ space economy worth $1.69 billion
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  • New Chair for Royal Commission into Abuse
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  • Better mental health facilities for Palmerston North
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  • Fisheries innovation projects supported
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  • Extension for Royal Commission into Mosque attacks
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  • Terrorism and Trade on agenda as Foreign Minister visits the United States
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  • Hoiho get extra support alongside 168 community conservation groups backing nature
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