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    Brave New World

    Can Neoliberalism Ever Go Away?

    Brave New World
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    John Harrison
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    People all over the world are protesting against globalisation, inequality and selfishness. Democratic liberalism is supposed to solve these problems, but liberalism and its big brother neoliberalism are actually the cause of these problems. Furthermore, once a country has adopted neoliberalist policies it is very hard for it ever to reject them.

    Dr. Alfredo Saad Filho, from the department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, discusses these issues.

    Dr. Filho starts the program by describing what neoliberalism is. He says that it is usually presented as a set of policies which roll back the welfare state, which endorse power for the rich. But neoliberalism has become more than that, he says. “It is a way to organize the economy, a way to organize society and the political system, around the logic of finance, the logic of extracting the maximum value that is possible from every single aspect of human interaction. This penetrates every area of social life, through privatization, through legislation attempting to force people into the labor market so that their value can be extracted from them, and so on…”

    On so called ‘Liberal Democracy,’ Dr. Filho describes the international institutions which we currently have such as the UN, the IMF and informal instructions like the Davos Summit as not being very democratic. “They are inserted into the framework of global liberalism, and they have adopted the name of democracy and are institutions which serve the interests of a very small section of humanity. To call them democratic is a misdemeanor, it is not correct to say that the market can regulate these institutions. The rich can promote their own international agendas which are representative of this very small layer of humanity which runs international institutions, in order to give them legitimacy…”

    The question of freedom is discussed. Dr. Filho says that liberal democracy does bring a sense of freedom: “there is freedom to trade, to make money, to accumulate profit, it is not freedom to have your human rights recognized. It is not freedom to have your basic needs satisfied.”

    The process of neoliberalism of economies is discussed. Dr. Filho says: “economies change usually because of a combination of internal and external pressures. The processes can be very different. …Once you allow neoliberalism in you are changing power relations within society, you are changing the makeup of society itself, and this makes it very difficult for a reversal to occur. Once the process starts it tightens as it moves along, although it does have moments of instability and crisis as we can see today.”

    Dr. Filho is somewhat optimistic because he sees that many people are realizing that neoliberalism is creating massive inequality and not solving economic problems. “Today we see two types of movements; from the left, with Bernie Sanders in the US, Corbyn in the UK and many other similar movements, and we also see a questioning of neoliberalism from the right – you see Brexit, you see Trump and others…”

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    Tags:
    neoliberalism, policies, globalisation, democracy, economy
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