Neoliberalism as economic theory was always an absurdity. It had as much validity as past ruling ideologies such as the divine right of kings and fascism’s belief in the Übermensch. None of its vaunted promises were even remotely possible. Concentrating wealth in the hands of a global oligarchic elite—eight families now hold as much wealth as 50 percent of the world’s population—while demolishing government controls and regulations always creates massive income inequality and monopoly power, fuels political extremism and destroys democracy. You do not need to slog through the 577 pages of Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” to figure this out. But economic rationality was never the point. The point was the restoration of class power.
As a ruling ideology, neoliberalism was a brilliant success. Starting in the 1970s, its Keynesian mainstream critics were pushed out of academia, state institutions and financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank and shut out of the media. Compliant courtiers and intellectual poseurs such as Milton Friedman were groomed in places such as the University of Chicago and given prominent platforms and lavish corporate funding. They disseminated the official mantra of fringe, discredited economic theories popularized by Friedrich Hayek and the third-rate writer Ayn Rand. Once we knelt before the dictates of the marketplace and lifted government regulations, slashed taxes for the rich, permitted the flow of money across borders, destroyed unions and signed trade deals that sent jobs to sweatshops in China, the world would be a
In 1753, Adam Smith was a moral philosopher specializing in Stoicism, teaching at the University of Glasgow. After publishing his first book, Smith became a minor intellectual celebrity. His friend David Hume helped him leverage his fame into a cushy job tutoring the son of a wealthy English duke while traveling with the boy across Europe. In France, Smith met a group of thinkers who profoundly affected his thinking and led him to the central ideas of his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations.
These thinkers were called the physiocrats. They theorized that agriculture was the foundation of any stable society, a reaction to France’s current economic development. The country was on the cusp of industrialization, and the French government, in an attempt to catch up to more developed countries like England, had forcibly directed investment to industry and the country’s infrastructure. The physiocrats hated all this. They thought that the land, and by extension, the elite class who owned it, should be the priority for state protection—not the grubby merchants and industrialists with their grimy factories. They were a cult of nature and defenders of the feudal organization of an agrarian society.
Smith concurred. The physiocratic system, he said, “with all its imperfections is, perhaps, the nearest approximation to the truth that has yet been published upon the subject of
The Justice Department has asked a federal judge not to unseal a sworn affidavit used by the FBI to recover 11 sets of secret government documents from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida last week. The affidavit is the basis of an application that convinced a judge to sign off on the FBI’s search warrant. In a federal court filing, prosecutors said the affidavit’s release would compromise the continuing investigation and could chill the future cooperation of witnesses. The warrant, which was unsealed Friday, revealed Trump is being investigated for three federal crimes: violating the Espionage Act, obstruction of justice and criminal handling of government records.
it is a kind of amusing ideological confusion on their part. They’ve rested so much of their platform on a kind of “back the blue” authoritarianism, and to now see that turned around on the FBI is, on the one hand, amusing, but, on the other hand, I think it’s instructive. It tells us a lot about actually what they think the role of law enforcement is. It’s not the neutral, professional enforcement of the law that they often claim; it’s actually a political tool. The difference here is that they think that it’s a political tool that should be used on their behalf, and they’re really upset to see law enforcement being used against so-called, you know, god-fearing, patriarchal white nationalists as opposed to using those forces against immigrant communities, communities of color, sex workers and, of course, the political left. And so, it’s a kind of a repeat of January 6th, where we saw, you know, “back the blue” flags being used to beat local police.
In the American ethos, sacrifice is often hailed as the chief ingredient for overcoming hardship and seizing opportunity. To be successful, we’re assured, college students must make personal sacrifices by going deep into debt for a future degree and the earnings that may come with it. Small business owners must sacrifice their paychecks so that their companies will continue to grow, while politicians must similarly sacrifice key policy promises to get something (almost anything!) done.
We have become all too used to the notion that success only comes with sacrifice, even if this is anything but the truth for the wealthiest and most powerful Americans. After all, whether you focus on the gains of Wall Street or of this country’s best-known billionaires, the ever-rising Pentagon budget or the endless subsidies to fossil-fuel companies, sacrifice is not exactly a theme for those atop this society. As it happens, sacrifice in the name of progress is too often relegated to the lives of the poor and those with little or no power. But what if, instead of believing that most of us must eternally “rob Peter to pay Paul,” we imagine a world in which everyone was in and no one out?
In that context, consider recent policy debates on Capitol Hill as the crucial midterm elections approach. To start with, the passage of the Biden administration’s Inflation
The World Health Organization says the number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide fell by 19% last week as many countries in Europe and the Americas saw a sharp drop from record-high levels of infection. Even so, there were 16 million new cases and about 75,000 deaths reported around the globe last week. Here in the U.S., where more than 3,300 new COVID-19 deaths were reported Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said her agency is preparing to issue new guidelines that will suggest loosening public health restrictions.
Some people think that “neoliberalism” means a completely marketized society. But that’s never really been the case.
What we’ve really had for forty-five years is what so many economists have called a “bailout economy.” We have the obvious consequences, financial crisis after financial crisis. And every time it comes, there’s a taxpayer-funded bailout.
The TARP [Troubled Assets Relief Program] agreement under George W. Bush, for example, had two elements to it. One was to bail out the perpetrators of the crisis — the people giving out predatory loans. And the other was to provide support for the victims of the crisis — people who had lost their homes, lost their jobs.
You can guess which one of the two was actually implemented.
LF: But Noam, years ago, you couldn’t even say the word “neoliberalism,” let alone “socialism.” We didn’t talk about systems in relation to our economy. Today we are.
NC: We also did sixty, seventy years ago. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was not known as a flaming liberal, said that anyone who doesn’t accept New Deal policies, anyone who doesn’t believe that workers have the right to freely organize without suppression, doesn’t belong in our political system. That was the 1950s. It changed a little bit with Jimmy Carter, then broke with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
“How The Koch Network Hijacked The War On COVID.” That’s the headline to a new report looking at how a right-wing network linked to billionaire Charles Koch has played a key role in fighting public health measures put in place by governments during the pandemic, including mask and vaccine mandates, contact tracing and lockdowns. The institutions with ties to Koch include ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council; the American Institute for Economic Research; Donors Trust; the Hoover Institution; and Hillsdale College.
So, we found that this vast, opaque, right-wing network of nonprofits has been funding and promoting anti-lockdown, anti-public health activism, research and messaging. They employed the same model that was used during the — to create the tea party. That model was laid out by Jeff Nesbit, who’s a former communications official at the FDA and in George H.W. Bush’s White House. And that includes an academic network to support the movement intellectually, policy networks in every state, a grassroots alliance, a propaganda arm and a national coordinating group to make it all run smoothly. So, our focus was primarily on the academic network, but we also talked a little bit about the grassroots movement, as well.
So, as early as April 2020, you see groups like FreedomWorks, which was instrumental in the tea party protests in 2009, begin promoting protests against lockdowns. Americans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council were calling on Trump to keep the country open. AFP started in March 2020, like really shortly after the virus arrived