Introduction to Getting to Grips with Neoliberalism Teach/Learn-in – Wigan 24 November 2018
We are here to reach a deeper understanding of what neoliberalism, how it is changing. What do we want to do?
* learn from each other as well as other sources to deepen our knowledge of neoliberalism in all its manifestations and contradictions
*contest right wing forces and alt-truth
*create an alternative vision and narrative; be future oriented
*discover, welcome and collaborate with new forms of resistance and opposition as they emerge
*respect each other’s views, listen and think constructively
* create the conditions for this process to continue in the future.
Here is a brief overview since Time’s Up for neoliberalism was published earlier this year. In what ways has neoliberalism changed in the four areas we are discussing today?
Global Economy – the “tech wreck”
- Between 2017-18: the rise and rise of the techs and now looking shaky. Since September NYT: “Amazon, Apple and Facebook Once Led the Market. Now They Are Driving it Down. Apple was worth more than $1 trillion at the start of November. Now, it’s valued at $880 billion.
- The Financial Times calls it a tech-wreck
· “Corporate debt is the new subprime” – household debt in 2008, now it’s corporate debt.
· November 15 warning by IMF: “Approaching a threatening level”: IMF Issues Stark Warning On Leveraged Loans
- “We warned in the most recent Global Financial Stability Report that speculative excesses in some financial markets may be approaching a threatening level. For evidence, look no further than the $1.3 trillion global market for so-called leverage loans, which has some analysts and academics sounding the alarm on a dangerous deterioration in lending standards.”
· In UK: Household debt is at unprecedented levels — a staggering £1.6trn. According to a report from the National Audit Office, up to 8.3m people are unable to pay off debts or household bills. Widespread Gig economy and precarious working, including in the professions. Workers are getting organised. Court cases and actions against Gig employers. Increasing automation. (even Dr Who has lampooned the way automation and Gig employers exploit workers!)
- October 2018: UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that urgent and unprecedented measures need to hold down warming to max 1.5 degrees.
- Humanity has wiped out 60% of animals since 1970, WWF report finds (30 Oct)
Species/habitat loss: Stop biodiversity loss or we could face our own extinction, warns UN – Nov 6.
- Not just animals being wiped out but humans from Bangla Desh to California:
Wildfires in California have so far cost 81 lives with some 800 still unaccounted for. Even the wealthiest countries can’t stop these effects from climate change and deforestation.
- #Extinction Rebellion demonstrators in York and elsewhere have been in the streets stopping traffic. In London they closed down key bridges last week.
They demand that the government ‘tells the truth’ about the climate and wider ecological emergency, reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to convene a national Citizen Assembly to oversee necessary changes. Winning wide support even amongst academics and social media influencers such as Jack Harries.
Rise of populism and the far right
- According to an annual survey from the pro-democracy NGO Freedom House, released earlier this year, “political rights and civil liberties declined in roughly 33 percent of the world’s countries in 2017. Strongmen are on the rise.”
- One in four Europeans vote for populist parties.( see Guardian survey)
- Rise of populism has “everything to do with the failure of the EU project” (Larry Elliott). EU project is the neoliberal project.
- Bolsonaro in Brazil on the back of betrayals of the PT
- Crisis of representative democracy driven by the crisis of neoliberalism
- Break-up of the political system under attack from the right. Left is largely silent.
- Crisis of the UK state over Brexit
Brexit vote was a rejectionist vote against the existing neoliberal order, although not consciously so. It has led to a crisis in Parliament where no combination of parties/votes can deliver a deal. A second referendum would bring out the far right populists largely absent since 2016 vote.
Ideology and culture
- The rise of the Big Lie painted as truth or alt facts. Reinforcing conspiracy theories etc and used by the far right to access political power. Use of social media by authoritarian regimes to spread disinformation. The more outrageous the more it gets spread.
- Overall 60% in UK believe in at least one conspiracy theory (6-year research project by Cambridge Uni and YouGov)
- Scepticism and distrust of journalists (77%) of government ministers (76%) , of company bosses (74%)
- Struggle against this going on by many people. Having our discussion today is part of this.