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What is Neoliberal Philosophy and Policy, and How Has It Affected Our Lives?

The Guardian recently published an article about Neoliberalism, the political ideology and movement that shaped the last 36 years of decline which afflicted both US and British voters, that is, the 90% of voters who are not part of the protected upper and professional classes. It's a fascinating and important article, and very much worth your time to read, study, and share and discuss with others.  Here's a substantial snippet from the article, which communicates a set of critical ideas. Make sure you click the link and read the complete article as well. Yes, it's that good. 

The author should be no surprise, it is George Monbiot.



Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems -The Guardian, April 2016

"Neoliberalism  sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.

We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.

Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers.

Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe. We are all neoliberals now."


 

Something that should not have to be pointed out, but which must be pointed out, is this - Neoliberalism has nothing to do with liberalism. As the Encyclopedia Britannica states in its entry on Neoliberalism, "Although the terms are similar, neoliberalism is distinct from modern liberalism." 

Neoliberalism is a special form of capitalism, one which claims that
laissez faire (the expression means "let them do it") markets are its goal. but which in practice corrupts the markets using treaties, agreements, preferential treatments, tax policies, and loans and grants and other benefits paid for by the taxpayers. All of these market shaping tools have one clear class of beneficiaries, a group of the very largest of incorporations, the multinationals, corporations which operate in part inside the US, and in part outside the US. The parts of a multinational that are outside of the US are outside of US taxation and regulation, but, in Neoliberal theory this is a feature, not a bug. 

 

This is not an accidental side effect, it is policy.  Neoliberal politicians claim that the labor laws and consumer protection laws and social programs created as a response to the labor conflicts and the economic crises of the late 1800's to World war II were distortions of a free market, and this was the justification for the favoritism and special benefits then extended, by every President since Reagan, to the multinational corporations, who were depicted as being inherently more efficient at managing the economy, finance, insurance, and most critical infrastructure, such as water, power, internet, media, transportation, housing, defense, and resource management. And also critical services, medicine and health being the service which affects us all most commonly, but which also includes student loans, justice and prisons, and the financial and support services associated with public pensions and senior care.
   
Neoliberalism has as its stated policy the goal of either privatizing all such services, or handing over to the private sector their management under favorable contracts with the various levels of government that formerly were tasked with creating, maintaining, and providing such infrastructure or services. Big business does everything better, is the neoliberal claim.
 

 

From the wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

"Neoliberalism (or sometimes neo-liberalism)[1] is a term which has been used since the 1950s,[2] but became more prevalent in its current meaning in the 1970s and 80s by scholars in a wide variety of social sciences[3]and critics[4] primarily in reference to the resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism.[5] Its advocates support extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatizationfiscal austerityderegulationfree trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12] Neoliberalism is famously associated with the economic policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States.[7] The implementation of neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s are seen by some academics as the root of financialization, with the financial crisis of 2007–08 one of the ultimate results.[13][14][15][16][17]


 

Now, you might legitimately be excused if you have come to the conclusion that Neoliberalism is a Republican and "conservative" ideology and policy. In a sense it is, but the Republicans, who would not choose to have anything containing the word "liberal" to be openly endorsed as policy, have constructed their own variation of Neoliberalism that combines all the elements of corporation favoritism and anti-labor market manipulations with an ideology that was ironically invented by the Democrats called Neoconservatism. The Republicans renamed this fusion of Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism, calling it, imaginatively, Neoconservatism.  (See the endnote.)

No, Neoliberalism is a Democratic party policy. It is most closely identified with Bill Clinton's presidency, and now with Barack Obama's presidency. 


Leading us to this topic of discussion:

Is the Neoliberalism Policy of the Democratic Party a positive or negative force in our lives?

  





Endnotes:


 

From the Brittanica Encyclopedia http://www.britannica.com/topic/neoliberalism

 

Neoliberalism, ideology and policy model that emphasizes the value of free market competition. Although there is considerable debate as to the defining features of neoliberal thought and practice, it is most commonly associated with laissez-faire economics. In particular, neoliberalism is often characterized in terms of its belief in sustained economic growth as the means to achieve human progress, its confidence in free markets as the most-efficient allocation of resources, its emphasis on minimal state intervention in economic and social affairs, and its commitment to the freedom of trade and capital.

Although the terms are similar, neoliberalism is distinct from modern liberalism



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoconservatism

Neoconservatism (commonly shortened to neocon) is a political movement born in the United States during the 1960s among Democrats who became disenchanted with the party's domestic and especially foreign policy. Many of its adherents became politically famous during the Republican presidential administrations of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Neoconservatives peaked in influence during the administrations ofGeorge W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, when they played a major role in promoting and planning the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[1] Prominent neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration included Paul Wolfowitz,John BoltonElliott AbramsRichard Perle, and Paul Bremer. Senior officials Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, while not identifying as neoconservatives, listened closely to neoconservative advisers regarding foreign policy, especially the defense of Israel and the promotion of democracy in the Middle East. Neoconservatives continue to have influence in the Obama White House, and neoconservative ideology has continued as a factor in American foreign policy.[2][3]

The term "neoconservative" refers to those who made the ideological journey from the anti-Stalinist Left to the camp of American conservatism.[4] Neoconservatives typically advocate the promotion of democracy and promotion of American national interest in international affairs, including by means of military force, and are known for espousing disdain for communism and for political radicalism.[5][6] The movement had its intellectual roots in the Jewish monthly review magazine Commentary, published by the American Jewish Committee.[7][8] They spoke out against the New Left, and in that way helped define the movement.