How Does Neoliberalism End?

Neoliberalism is an ideology that has infected the fabric of our existence, since 1979 and the election of Thatcher and 1981 and the election of Regan. The economy ever since has been a swamp of not-quite free market and not-quite socialist third way ideological decisions. One of the biggest recent impacts of this decision making was that of the 2008 global economic crisis, the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930's. It can be argued that this crisis arose from the unchecked neoliberal decisions made.

"Neoliberalism is the assertion that the market is the core institution of modern - capitalist - societies and that both domestic and international policy-making are (and should be) primarily concerned with making markets work well" [1]

I believe, and many others that this is a dangerous ideology to keep around. Overall, there's more than just economics at play here; when you have a deep entanglement of the market and the government, democracy is subverted. Money rules all and corruption flows in. Eventually the whole of the government is neoliberal. Ideologies are infected with a dangerous economic theory that underpins the actions that they take. Even the 'left-of-centre' politics has to engage with neoliberalism to complete their job. No country is self-sufficient in a globalised economy, most countries have large amounts of imports. Food miles are higher than ever, and technology is almost all produced in china. Globalism kills the craftsman and results in a loss of skilled labour at the hands for specialised, but not useful. As Marx wrote about the alienation faced by the worker, there is no final product for the majority of workers. This means that even if a country decided to become a non-importer the workforce would have to be trained immensely. This would result in a (perhaps short-term but existent nonetheless) dip in quality of life and the second quality of life declines, people will become unhappy. This will necessitates in interaction with the globalised, neoliberal, economy thus reinforcing it.

My warning goes out to the all citizens that human beings are in an endangered situation that uncontrolled multinational corporations and a small number of bit WTO members officials are leading an undesirable globalization of inhuman, environment-distorting, farmer-killing, and undemocratic. It should be stopped immediately otherwise the failed logic of the neo-liberalism will perish the diversities of agriculture and disastrously to all human being. - Lee Kyung-hae, a Korean anti-neoliberal & anti-globalization who martyred himself in protest of local farmers and fishermen in South Korea losing their jobs at the hands of the WTO.

Humans like stability, the only thing that drives people to political change is a decline in quality of life. Whether it be perceived or actual, it's clear that political instability is caused by some perceived threat to stability or a yearning for a higher tier thereof. (of course there are exceptions to this e.g. technological adaptations and the civil rights movement (but I just wanted to paint all of political science with a broad brush)). Further, capital moves away quite actively from instability and threats of the unknown. To steal from Nick Land (?!?!?!) "The bourgeois politics is the absence of politics, since capital is nothing other than the consistent displacement of social decision-making into the marketplace."

It seems that we're at some point where there should be a perceived imbalance between the 'richest 1% and the poorest 99%' right? Occupy Wall Street took place and in the public collective consciousness has forgotten about it for the most part now. How have we created a culture where we can just forget that there are a large number of abjectly impoverished people?

There's a large portion of people who feel angry at the establishment, but who are the establishment? We can get angry at the conservative government for making bad decisions all we like (and rightfully so); but who are the people truly behind all of the injustices in the world? It's a hard question because our corporate overlords like to keep an element of shadow around themselves. How many people can name the leaders of the large western economic superpowers vs how many people can name the board members of the 'big 10' companies that own most consumable products? What's the difference here? It's not profitable for their names to be out in the public mind, you curse the brand not the board. They're not democratically elected, they don't need a positive public image, they need none as they are not the product being marketed.

The theme of profitability definitely makes itself known through corporate culture. A recent trend of brands promoting LGBT+ rights and pride seems innocent enough but what does it really achieve for them? These companies (to humanise the inhuman) don't care who buys their products as long as someone buys them. If it was the public opinion that LGBT+ rights didn't matter (and to be clear, they do) these companies wouldn't advertise using them. Brands are out to create a positive image of them in your mind, especially with falling 'millennial' sales for a lot of older brands (which lines up with people who are more socially conscious) these tactics work wonders. It's the same deal with twitter accounts from brands that have the guise of a human replying, it's to make an image of the brand that is less of a brand and more of a human. I'd implore you to read this for some more information about how entities are represented in the mind.

Under neoliberal guide economic instability seems to have risen, hedge funds have exploded since 1995 where there was a total of $2.8 bn in hedge funds, now this has increased to $1.4 tn. There was also a deregulation on speculation on hedge funds in 2000 which brings about the financialisation of commodities [2] This, in my opinion shows just how much the neoliberal ideology is against humanity. There is no way to reconcile this broken ideology with that of the people left destitute, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer so to say.

So what are the frontiers of neoliberalism? Where do we go from increasing economic instability and frequent market crashes?

Perhaps it is telling that we have constructed a democracy that sometimes feels like a binary choice (especially in America) 'right' vs 'left' based off of the seating plan in a French building in the 18th century (aristocrats on the right, commoners on the left). The neoliberal establishment has managed to infect both 'sides' (republican and democrat) in the US. It's no longer a choice, it's a dice roll on what flavour of neoliberalism we get for the next 5 years. The 2016 elections were never going to be anything but a symbolic vote for a continuation of corporate America. Donald Trump is the avatar of the slimy wall street trader with none of the sly intelligence, and Hillary Clinton is the avatar of the markets influence in the government. It's fine entertaining the possibilities of Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, or Gary Johnson but they were never meant to be; perhaps to be a little tin-foil-hat Bernie Sanders never had a chance in the democrat primaries as a start, it would be damaging to the lobbyists. Is social democracy that much of an alternative for America? It would definitely benefit the people but to say that it would solve the problems inherent with a globalised neoliberal economy might be a stretch.

It's also worth mentioning the populist movement that seems to be rising in a lot of places (especially Europe), Trump is a populist, Corbyn is a populist. It's a reaction to globalism but will it solve our problems with globalism in the long run? The UK leaving the EU seems to be an anti-globalist move but the fact is that we were sold this based on lies of decreased immigration and higher budget for the country. Would the UK leave the EU if immigration was something people weren't worried about? Are we even leaving the single market? Neither of those questions can really be answered right now truthfully but to both the answer seems like a 'no'.

I think another way to uproot the neoliberal ideology is to make the economy untenable as a concept. Whether this to completely kill the idea of a producer-consumer dialogue or to factor out any idea of human labour. Accelerationists may call for full automation, and this would work to remove this labour and would definitely lead us into a new era in politics (and economy). Further would be an idea of a post-scarcity world where everyone desires are catered for in equal measures. Perhaps this would temper our beliefs of what we actually want, however this may lead to a dystopia a la brave new world where the higher classes of people are able to sedate the lower with a fulfilment of (possibly false) desires at will.

I think that automation is definitely going to be a large factor in our future, but also people overestimate quite how quickly it will come around. I'd be suprised if the entire human work force were out of action by 2200. To bet on a utopia with people free to create art and speak their minds with everyone equal in our lifetimes is risky and detracts from the need to improve our current standing. Maybe if we can make life a little less bad for those at their worst we can start to move towards an ultimately nicer world. Ultimately in the short-term automation will make a lot of people's skills redundant, perhaps we can use our time to figure out a way to make these people useful in the fastest way possible to contribute to the overall automation, and eventual freedom from work for all humans.

In an outlandish and perhaps slightly irrelevant turn, will Nick Land's cybernetics; the complete fall of governmental structures, and further, hierarchy all together. Will this lead to the end of neoliberalism? Absolutely, but what does it leave us. Why do the cyberneticians feel the need to end human life when it is so special? For all the awkward problems that humanity brings around, the misery and sadness and cruelty and just quite how shit it is. There is something that can't be seen by schizophrenic robots continuing pointless capitalism ad infinium. When we lose desires, we lose humanity.


[1] Internalizing Globalization - Susanne Soederberg ISBN 9780230524439
[2] Link
[3] Link

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