MySchool not OurSchools. In the basic logic of policy, there is now no difference between Labor and Liberal/National parties. The unchallenged assumption of national and state policy is that whatever problem exists, market logic can fix it.
Take a step back to recall the story that this book tells, and consider how it might come to a very unhappy ending. Imagine the history our disappointed descendants might write. For centuries, the moral teachings of a civilization held self—interest and self-trust to be the sins of frail and deluded humanity. These traditional teachings denied that societies could discern distinct and viable principles of order and design their own institutions accordingly. The denounced such efforts as doomed hubris. Then, in an unprecedented experiment, some people rejected the old wisdom. They took the heart’s desire and the body’s appetite as compass points and rededicated human ingenuity to serving them. They created new forms of order to house these inverted values. For a time, the experiment succeeded, changing life so dramatically that the utopian visions of one century became the pedestrian common sense of the next.Then, suddenly and drastically, the experiment failed. Self-interest and self-trust proved to be formulas for devastating the world. Democratic polities, the other moral center of the great experiment, could not stop runaway self-destruction and turned out to abet it instead. Faced with overwhelming evidence that they were on an unsustainable course, the freedom-loving peoples of the twenty-first century wrung their hands, congratulated themselves on their hybrid cars and locally grown food, and changed little, because it never made sense for anyone or any country to do so.
members of labor unions, and un-organized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers - themselves desparately afraid of being downsized - are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else. At that point, something will crack. The non-suburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for - someone willing to assure them that once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen and post modernist professors will no longer be calling the shots...One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion... All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet pp89-90
As neoliberalism wages war on public goods and the very idea of a public, including citizenship beyond membership, it dramatically thins public life without killing politics. Struggles remain over power, hegemonic values, resources, and future trajectories. This persistence of politics amid the destruction of public life and especially educated public life, combined with the marketization of the political sphere, is part of what makes contemporary politics peculiarly unappealing and toxic— full of ranting and posturing, emptied of intellectual seriousness, pandering to an uneducated and manipulable electorate and a celebrity-and-scandal-hungry corporate media. Neoliberalism generates a condition of politics absent democratic institutions that would support a democratic public and all that such a public represents at its best: informed passion, respectful deliberation, aspirational sovereignty, sharp containment of powers that would overrule or undermine it.
Both political parties have moved to the right during the neoliberal period. Today’s New Democrats are pretty much what used to be called “moderate Republicans.” The “political revolution” that Bernie Sanders called for, rightly, would not have greatly surprised Dwight Eisenhower.The fate of the minimum wage illustrates what has been happening. Through the periods of high and egalitarian growth in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the minimum wage—which sets a floor for other wages—tracked productivity. That ended with the onset of neoliberal doctrine. Since then, the minimum wage has stagnated (in real value). Had it continued as before, it would probably be close to $20 per hour. Today, it is considered a political revolution to raise it to $15.
If you are stuck in circumstances in which it takes Herculean efforts to get through the day— doing low-income work, obeying an authoritarian boss, buying clothes for the children, dealing with school issues, paying the rent or mortgage, fixing the car, negotiating with a spouse, paying taxes, and caring for older parents— it is not easy to pay close attention to larger political issues. Indeed you may wish that these issues would take care of themselves. It is not a huge jump from such a wish to become attracted to a public philosophy, spouted regularly at your job and on the media, that economic life would regulate itself automatically if only the state did not repeatedly intervene in it in clumsy ways. Now underfunded practices such as the license bureau, state welfare, public health insurance, public schools, public retirement plans, and the like begin to appear as awkward, bureaucratic organizations that could be replaced or eliminated if only the rational market were allowed to take care of things impersonally and quietly, as it were. Certainly such bureaucracies are indeed often clumsy. But more people are now attracted to compare that clumsiness to the myth of how an impersonal market would perform if it took on even more assignments and if state regulation of it were reduced even further. So a lot of “independents” and “moderates” may become predisposed to the myth of the rational market in part because the pressures of daily life encourage them to seek comfort in ideological formations that promise automatic rationality.
Any human being should be capable of three things to earn such title: live alone, hunt and drive anything with or without wheels. If you don't have these three things, you're either a slave or an animal. Any idea about being social or human has been cleverly associated with these two things, in order to make believe that being a social animal is the ideal to aspire for, especially if such animal is enslaved by a certain amount of ideals promoted by the system that gives him life and cuts it off as soon as he shows himself undeserving.
Technology is a means, not an end, no matter how brilliant it appears. How we use digital technology, exploit it and benefit from it depends on old-fashioned political concepts of how we treat each other: how we approach class, race, gender and war and peace. Nothing has changed in that regard. At present, we are ruled by an extreme version of capitalism called 'neoliberalism'. Technology in the service of any extremism has a catastrophic history.
Thatcher set ordinary people free, but into a landscape that her other policies had already shaped to suit other, more powerful interests, such as large corporations or Britons with inherited wealth.
It would take a while before the postmodern Narcissus perceived the ruins of society behind the emptiness of his mirror.
Capitalist realism insists on treating mental health as if it were a natural fact, like weather (but, then again, weather is no longer a natural fact so much as a political-economic effect). In the 1960s and 1970s, radical theory and politics (Laing, Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari, etc.) coalesced around extreme mental conditions such as schizophrenia, arguing, for instance, that madness was not a natural, but a political, category. But what is needed now is a politicization of much more common disorders. Indeed, it is their very commonness which is the issue: in Britain, depression is now the condition that is most treated by the NHS. In his book The Selfish Capitalist, Oliver James has convincingly posited a correlation between rising rates of mental distress and the neoliberal mode of capitalism practiced in countries like Britain, the USA and Australia. In line with James’s claims, I want to argue that it is necessary to reframe the growing problem of stress (and distress) in capitalist societies. Instead of treating it as incumbent on individuals to resolve their own psychological distress, instead, that is, of accepting the vast privatization of stress that has taken place over the last thirty years, we need to ask: how has it become acceptable that so many people, and especially so many young people, are ill?
...those thoroughly incorporated within the inexorable logic of the market and its demands find that there is little time and space in which to explore emancipatory potentialities outside what is marketed as 'creative' adventure, leisure, and spectacle. Obliged to live as appendages of the market and of capital accumulation rather than as expressive beings, the realm of freedom shrinks before the awful logic and the hollow intensity of market involvements
NGOs have a complicated space in neoliberal politics. They are supposed to mop up the anger. Even when they are doing good work, they are supposed to maintain the status quo. They are the missionaries of the corporate world.
The myth of free choice begins with free market and free trade. When five transnational corporations control the seed market, it is not a free market, it is a cartel.
Failure to recognize the historical specificity of the bourgeois conception of rights and duties leads to serious errors. It is for this reason that Marx registers...a vigorous indictment of the anarchist Proudhon... Proudhon in effect took the specifics of bourgeois legal and economic relations and treated them as universal and foundational for the development of an alternative, socially just economic system. From Marx's standpoint, this is no alternative at all since it merely re-inscribes bourgeois conceptions of value in a supposedly new form of society. This problem is still with us, not only because of the contemporary anarchist revival of interest in Proudhon's ideas but also because of the rise of a more broad-based liberal human rights politics as a supposed antidote to the social and political ills of contemporary capitalism. Marx's critique of Proudhon is directly applicable to this contemporary politics. The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 is a foundational document for a bourgeois, market-based individualism and as such cannot provide a basis for a thoroughgoing critique of liberal or neoliberal capitalism. Whether it is politically useful to insist that the capitalist political order live up to its own foundational principles is one thing, but to imagine that this politics can lead to a radical displacement of a capitalist mode of production is, in Marx's view, a serious error.
[W]hat counts as ‘realistic’, what seems possible at any point in the social field, is defined by a series of political determinations. An ideological position can never be really successful until it is naturalized, and it cannot be naturalized while it is still thought of as a value rather than a fact. Accordingly, neoliberalism has sought to eliminate the very category of value in the ethical sense. Over the past thirty years, capitalist realism has successfully installed a ‘business ontology’ in which it is simply obvious that everything in society, including healthcare and education, should be run as a business. … [E]mancipatory politics must always destroy the appearance of a ‘natural order’, must reveal what is presented as necessary and inevitable to be a mere contingency, just as it must make what was previously deemed to be impossible seem attainable.
the stories that produced [Trump] were always contested. There were always other stories, ones that insisted that money is not what’s valuable, and that all of our fates are intertwined with one another and with the health of the natural world… while Trump is the logical culmination of the current neoliberal system, the current neoliberal system is not the only logical culmination of the human story
Another problem with the official definitions of terror is that it follows from them that the US is a leading terrorist state.
This is the permanent tension that lies at the heart of a capitalist democracy and is exacerbated in times of crisis. In order to ensure the survival of the richest, it is democracy that has to be heavily regulated rather than capitalism.
In the United States […] the two main business-dominated parties, with the support of the corporate community, have refused to reform laws that make it virtually impossible to create new political parties (that might appeal to non-business interests) and let them be effective. Although there is marked and frequently observed dissatisfaction with the Republicans and Democrats, electoral politics is one area where notions of competitions and free choice have little meaning. In some respects the caliber of debate and choice in neoliberal elections tends to be closer to that of the one-party communist state than that of a genuine democracy.
Deregulated marketplace: a brilliant method by which profits are privatized and losses are socialized.
The main substantive achievement of neoliberalization, however, has been to redistribute, rather than to generate, wealth and income. …[T]his was achieved under the rubric of ‘accumulation by dispossession’. By this I mean the continuation and proliferation of accumulation practices which Marx had treated of as ‘primitive’ or ‘original’ during the rise of capitalism. These include the commodification and privatization of land and the forceful expulsion of peasant populations (compare the cases, described above, of Mexico and of China, where 70 million peasants are thought to have been displaced in recent times); conversion of various forms of property rights (common, collective, state, etc.) into exclusive private property rights (most spectacularly represented by China); suppression of rights to the commons; commodification of labour power and the suppression of alternative (indigenous) forms of production and consumption; colonial, neocolonial, and imperial processes of appropriation of assets (including natural resources); monetization of exchange and taxation, particularly of land; the slave trade (which continues particularly in the sex industry); and usury, the national debt and, most devastating of all, the use of the credit system as a radical means of accumulation by dispossession.
Beyond the speculative and often fraudulent froth that characterizes much of neoliberal financial manipulation, there lies a deeper process that entails the springing of ‘the debt trap’ as a primary means of accumulation by dispossession. Crisis creation, management, and manipulation on the world stage has evolved into the fine art of deliberative redistribution of wealth from poor countries to the rich. I documented the impact of Volcker’s interest rate increase on Mexico earlier. While proclaiming its role as a noble leader organizing ‘bail-outs’ to keep global capital accumulation on track, the US paved the way to pillage the Mexican economy. This was what the US Treasury–Wall Street–IMF complex became expert at doing everywhere. Greenspan at the Federal Reserve deployed the same Volcker tactic several times in the 1990s. Debt crises in individual countries, uncommon during the 1960s, became very frequent during the 1980s and 1990s. Hardly any developing country remained untouched, and in some cases, as in Latin America, such crises became endemic. These debt crises were orchestrated, managed, and controlled both to rationalize the system and to redistribute assets. Since 1980, it has been calculated, ‘over fifty Marshall Plans (over $4.6 trillion) have been sent by the peoples at the Periphery to their creditors in the Center’. ‘What a peculiar world’, sighs Stiglitz, ‘in which the poor countries are in effect subsidizing the richest.
The idealized market was supposed to deliver ‘friction free’ exchanges, in which the desires of consumers would be met directly, without the need for intervention or mediation by regulatory agencies. Yet the drive to assess the performance of workers and to measure forms of labor which, by their nature, are resistant to quantification, has inevitably required additional layers of management and bureaucracy. What we have is not a direct comparison of workers’ performance or output, but a comparison between the audited representation of that performance and output. Inevitably, a short-circuiting occurs, and work becomes geared towards the generation and massaging of representations rather than to the official goals of the work itself. Indeed, an anthropological study of local government in Britain argues that ‘More effort goes into ensuring that a local authority’s services are represented correctly than goes into actually improving those services’. This reversal of priorities is one of the hallmarks of a system which can be characterized without hyperbole as ‘market Stalinism’. What late capitalism repeats from Stalinism is just this valuing of symbols of achievement over actual achievement.[…]It would be a mistake to regard this market Stalinism as some deviation from the ‘true spirit’ of capitalism. On the contrary, it would be better to say that an essential dimension of Stalinism was inhibited by its association with a social project like socialism and can only emerge in a late capitalist culture in which images acquire an autonomous force. The way value is generated on the stock exchange depends of course less on what a company ‘really does’, and more on perceptions of, and beliefs about, its (future) performance. In capitalism, that is to say, all that is solid melts into PR, and late capitalism is defined at least as much by this ubiquitous tendency towards PR-production as it is by the imposition of market mechanisms.
In neo-classical economic theory, it is claimed without evidence that people are basically self-seeking, that they want above all the satisfaction of their material desires: what economists call maximising utility. The ultimate objective of mankind is economic growth, and that is maximized only through raw, and lightly regulated, competition. If the rewards of this system are spread unevenly, that is a necessary price. Others on the planet are to be regarded as either customers, competitors or factors of production. Effects upon the planet itself are mere externalities to the model, with no reckoning of the cost - at least for now. Nowhere in this analysis appears factors such as human cooperation, love, trust, compassion or hatred, curiosity or beauty. Nowhere appears the concept of meaning. What cannot be measured is ignored. But the trouble is that once our basic needs for shelter and food have been met, these factors may be the most important of all.
Entrepreneurs are favored in neoliberal contexts because they prize ingenuity, self-invention, adaptation, dispensing with establishment hierarchies, and self-mastery. Church planting can be read as a religious incarnation of late modernity's entrepreneurial disposition.
The pressures of the current neoliberal capitalist system of health care and its financing force health professionals into a double bind. Either they spend the time and energy necessary to listen to and fully treat the patient and put their job and clinic in economic jeopardy, or they move at a frenetic pace to keep their practice afloat and only partially attend to the patient in their presence.
...some student asked if he [Larry Summers] didn’t have essentially the same relationship with Bob Rubin. Wasn’t Summer’s opposition to capital controls just a sop to Wall Street banks, which wanted to recoup their risky investments regardless of how doing so affected the country in which they had invested? “Summers just lost it,” said one audience member, a business school student. “he looked at the person and said, “you don’t know what you’re talking about and how dare you ask this question of the president of Harvard?
Within a neoliberal discourse there is also an assumption that all social groups will ultimately benefit from the effects of corporate profit, regardless of the fact that in increases the wealth of the already wealthy. Yet, in reality, neoliberal agendas aim to reduce labour costs, decrease public expenditure and make work more flexible...For poor families and the working poor, this means that they are more likely to be exploited as their incomes remain low, and their ability to access services is increasingly compromised.
DB: There's a lot of talk about terrorism. In fact, it's become almost an obsession for the media in the United States. But it's a very narrow definition of terrorism.AR: Yes. It completely ignores the economic terrorism unleashed by neoliberalism, which devastates the lives of millions of people, depriving them of water, food, electricity. Denying them medicine. Denying them education. Terrorism is the logical extension of this business of the free market. Terrorism is the privatization of war. Terrorists are the free marketeers of war - people who believe that it isn't only the state that can wage war, but private parties as well.If you look at the logic underlying an act of terrorism and the logic underlying a retaliatory war against terrorism, they are the same. Both terrorists and governments make ordinary people pay for the actions of their governments. Osama bin Laden is making people pay for the actions of the US state, whether it's in Saudi Arabia, Palestine, or Afghanistan. The US government is making the people of Iraq pay for the actions of Saddam Hussein. The people of Afghanistan pay for the crimes of the Taliban. The logic is the same.Osama bin Laden and George Bush are both terrorists. They are both building international networks that perpetrate terror and devastate people's lives. Bush, with the Pentagon, the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank. Bin Laden with Al Qaeda.