How to Resist the Empire’s Neoliberal Debt Trap

Michael Hudson has become famous in recent years. The Financial Times credited him with forecasting the 2008 financial crash and its aftermath. His “magnum opus,” Super Imperialism, now in its third edition, was the first explanation of how going off the gold standard in 1972 allowed the US to force other nations to pay for its wars, while becoming indebted to US banks and financial institutions.

Now, in The Destiny of Civilization: Finance Capitalism, Industrial Capitalism or Socialism, Hudson provides a series of lectures on neoliberalism to Chinese economic planners, meant as a contribution to ongoing Chinese debates about the direction of the super-successful Chinese economy. (This level of trust is shared by few other US economists, notably Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz.) Hudson explains how Washington’s aggressive neoliberalism, bolstered by military force, is backfiring. In one of his many articles in recent months, Hudson says:

The US/NATO confrontation with Russia in Ukraine is achieving just the opposite of America’s aim of preventing China, Russia and their allies from acting independently of U.S.

— source | Dee Knight | Aug 8, 2022

Nullius in verba


Neoliberalism Strengthens the Right

French President Emmanuel Macron’s re-election by a comfortable margin against an opponent with whom he shares a mutual dislike almost obscured a certain co-dependence between their political camps. Macron and his opponent, the far-right Marine Le Pen, may loathe each other, but they have developed a type of political symbiosis that provides crucial insights into the current predicament in France, Europe, and beyond.

The specter of a Le Pen victory has sustained a tradition of helping incumbents return to the Elysée. Before Macron, 20 years ago, Jacques Chirac united 82% of the electorate against Le Pen’s father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

But this time was different. In 2002, fear of Jean-Marie Le Pen forged Chirac’s triumph. In 2022, it was more of a two-way street: while Le Pen certainly helped Macron assemble a clear majority of voters, Macron also bolstered Le Pen. The result speaks for itself: an ultra-rightist won 42% of the vote. Over the past five years, the Macron-Le Pen co-dependence grew, and not in spite of the two opponents’ mutual antipathy but at least partly because of it.

Chirac’s 2002 re-election was built on a coalition of the right, the center, and the left against the xenophobic ultra-right. Five years ago, faced once more with the same far-

— source | Yanis Varoufakis | Apr 25, 2022

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An End to Neoliberalism in Chile

In a historic milestone, Chile has finalized a draft of its first-ever democratically written constitution to replace the one created under the U.S.-backed neoliberal dictator Augusto Pinochet. The new constitution is expected to enshrine a wide range of human rights and social programs, including free universal access to healthcare, higher education, reproductive rights, as well as more robust environmental safeguards and policies to promote gender and racial equity. It will also for the first time recognize Chile’s Indigenous peoples and offer restitution for historically Indigenous lands, but does not include a measure to nationalize parts of the country’s mining industry. “It has been a demand of social movements, of the civil society in Chile for decades,” says Pablo Abufom, member of Chile’s “Solidaridad” movement.

Well, the first thing to say is that this finally ends with the neoliberal constitution imposed by the dictatorship. This is very important. It has been a demand of social movements, of the civil society in Chile for decades. And this is probably a new step in a political crisis that began in October 2019, where we had a huge popular revolt in Santiago, but in other big cities, in urban and rural centers in Chile, when we had millions of people taking to the streets to demand the guarantee of social rights; an end to

— source | May 19, 2022

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Sri Lankan PM Resigns

Sri Lanka, where the government has granted emergency powers to its military and police forces after protests erupted in the capitol Colombo as the country faces its worst economic crisis in its history. This comes after Sri Lanka’s prime minister was forced to resign, following large anti-government protests in recent weeks that have demanded the ouster of all members of the Rajapaksa family. The move clears the way for the formation of a new cabinet as Sri Lanka looks for ways to end the devastating economic crisis. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa is the brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has faced charges of nepotism and corruption since he installed three siblings into high-level government posts. On Monday, supporters of his ruling party violently stormed a major peaceful protest site in the capital Colombo, attacking protesters and prompting clashes with police, who fired tear gas and water cannons.

Sri Lanka is going through perhaps the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. There are shortages of essential items. Gas and diesel prices have doubled, and there are huge lines because of shortages. The price of bread has doubled. The price of rice has doubled. And shortages of medicine. So, all of this — and the people are asking: What is the reason for this? And people are putting the blame squarely on the Rajapaksa regime, that came to power in late 2019.

— source | May 10, 2022

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Are We Witnessing the Demise of Neoliberalism?

After 40 years of neoliberal rule, in which the state actively sought to eradicate the boundary between market, civil society and governance by making economic rationality the cornerstone of every human activity, advanced capitalism appears to be at a crossroads on account of the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. So-called “big government” has staged a dramatic comeback, and even conservative leaders have broken with some of the basic orthodoxies of neoliberalism.

Are we in the midst of fundamental and permanent changes with regard to the relation between the state and markets? Are we witnessing the demise of neoliberalism? Has the pandemic led to the emergence of a new variant of capitalism?

In this interview, world-renowned scholar and public intellectual Noam Chomsky, along with two preeminent economists of the left — Costas Lapavitsas from the University of London and Robert Pollin from the University of Massachusetts Amherst — share their thoughts and insights about economics and capitalism in the age of the pandemic and beyond.

C.J. Polychroniou: Noam, the neoliberal era of the last 40 years has been defined to a large extent by growing inequalities, slow growth and environmental degradation. Indeed,

— source | Noam Chomsky | Oct 13, 2021

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On the Origins of Neoliberalism

In my previous piece on neoliberalism I began with a rough description of neoliberalism, but mostly I worked to clear up problems specific to the general American understanding of neoliberalism. The first problem with the American understanding of neoliberalism is that in the US “liberalism” usually means welfare liberalism of the New Deal type, whereas in Europe “liberalism” the word designates what we call market conservatism in the US. Neoliberal American politicians like Bill Clinton or Barack Obama were really neoliberals, but they weren not neo-New-Dealers but rather neo-freemarketers. Because they were Democrats and bright college types rather than hacks it was assumed that they were just modernizing the New Deal, but in fact they were working to limit and roll back the New Deal (and above all, LBJ’s Great Society).

The second problem is that while neoliberalism can be traced back to to old-school market liberalism of the Republican type, it is not the same thing, but something new and different — thus the “neo”. Neoliberals do hold many points in common with the anti-tax, anti-regulation, anti-union, little-government conservatism we know all too well, but their ideas about the political history and the role of government are entirely different.

Most of what I will say here comes from The Road from Mont Pelerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective, ed. Mirowski and Plehwe (Harvard , 2009), which I think is

— source | John Emerson | Dec 6, 2021

Nullius in verba