Monday, December 17, 2012

Neoliberalism and Plutocracy

They're the Same Thing

 ~ The always stimulating George Monbiot's recent blog post examines the need to fight plutocracy in order to address climate change.
George Monbiot
Humankind’s greatest crisis coincides with the rise of an ideology that makes it impossible to address. By the late 1980s, when it became clear that manmade climate change endangered the living planet and its people, the world was in the grip of an extreme political doctrine, whose tenets forbid the kind of intervention required to arrest it.

Neoliberalism, also known as market fundamentalism or laissez-faire economics, purports to liberate the market from political interference. The state, it asserts, should do little but defend the realm, protect private property and remove barriers to business. In practice it looks nothing like this. What neoliberal theorists call shrinking the state looks more like shrinking democracy: reducing the means by which citizens can restrain the power of the elite. What they call “the market” looks more like the interests of corporations and the ultra-rich. Neoliberalism appears to be little more than a justification for plutocracy.

It's a typically excellent piece of writing, and he hits the bull's-eye in identifying the diminution of democracy as the wolf disguised as the bland-sounding and vaguely appealing sheep of free market economics that prevents meaningful action on the existential threat of climate change. However, his argument has broader application.
Neoliberalism protects the interests of the elite against all comers.
All comers, indeed. It is not just action on climate change that is stymied by the dominance of the elites. The same shibboleths of market triumphalism effectively prevent any action on virtually all the policy issues crying out for meaningful action—too-big-to-fail banks, too-big-to-jail banksters, gun violence, the debt/deficit, education, the future of energy, resource depletion, campaign reform, the curtailment of civil rights, the elevation of corporate personhood, and, most central to the interests of the plutocracy, arresting the steady slide into serfdom that is the bleak and increasingly likely future for nearly all us.

1 comment: