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Neoliberalism is a species of fascism

by Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates’ Union of Belgium, via Defend Democracy

The time for rhetorical reservations is over. Things have to be called by their name to make it possible for a co-ordinated democratic reaction to be initiated, above all in the public services.
Liberalism was a doctrine derived  from the philosophy of Enlightenment, at once political and economic, which aimed at imposing on the state the necessary distance for ensuring respect for liberties and the coming of democratic emancipation. It was the motor for the arrival, and the continuing progress, of Western democracies.
Neoliberalism is a form of economism in our day that strikes at every moment at every sector of our community. It is a form of extremism.
Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology.
I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has  brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought.
The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy.
The austerity that is demanded by the financial milieu has become a supreme value, replacing politics. Saving money precludes pursuing any other public objective. It is reaching the point where claims are being made that the principle of budgetary orthodoxy should be included in state constitutions. A mockery is being made of the notion of public service.
The nihilism that results from this makes possible the dismissal of universalism and the most evident humanistic values: solidarity, fraternity, integration and respect for all and for differences.
There is no place any more even for classical economic theory: work was formerly an element in demand, and to that extent there was respect for workers; international finance has made of it a mere adjustment variable.
Every totalitarianism starts as distortion of language, as in the novel by George Orwell. Neoliberalism has its Newspeak and strategies of communication that enable it to deform reality.  In this spirit, every budgetary cut is represented as an instance of modernization of the sectors concerned. If some of the most deprived are no longer  reimbursed for medical expenses and so stop visiting the dentist, this is modernization of social security in action!
Abstraction predominates in public discussion so as to occlude the implications for human beings.
Thus, in relation to migrants, it is imperative that the need for hosting them does not lead to public appeals that our finances could not accommodate. Is it In the same way that other individuals qualify for assistance out of considerations of national solidarity?

The cult of evaluation

Social Darwinism predominates, assigning the most stringent performance requirements to everyone and everything: to be weak is to fail. The foundations of our culture are overturned: every humanist premise is disqualified or demonetized because neoliberalism has the monopoly of rationality and realism. Margaret Thatcher said it in 1985:

There is no alternative.”

Everything else is utopianism, unreason and regression. The virtue of debate and conflicting perspectives are discredited because history is ruled by necessity.
This subculture harbours an existential threat of its own: shortcomings of performance condemn one to disappearance while at the same time everyone is charged with inefficiency and obliged to justify everything. Trust is broken. Evaluation reigns,  and with it the bureaucracy which imposes definition and research of a plethora of targets, and indicators with which one must comply. Creativity and the critical spirit are stifled by management. And everyone is beating his breast about the wastage and inertia of which he is guilty.

The neglect of justice

The neoliberal ideology generates a normativity that competes with the laws of parliament. The democratic power of law is compromised. Given that they represent a concrete embodiment of liberty and emancipation, and given the potential to prevent abuse that they impose, laws and procedures have begun to look like obstacles.
The power of the judiciary, which has the ability to oppose the will of the ruling circles, must also be checkmated.  The Belgian judicial system is in any case underfunded. In 2015 it came last in a European ranking that included all states located between the Atlantic and the Urals. In two years the government has managed to take away the independence given to it under the Constitution so that it can play the counterbalancing role citizens expect of it. The aim of this undertaking is clearly that there should no longer be justice in Belgium.

A caste above the Many

But the dominant class doesn’t prescribe for itself the same medicine it wants to see ordinary citizens taking:  well-ordered austerity  begins with others. The economist Thomas Piketty has perfectly described this in his study of inequality and capitalism in the twenty-first century (French edition, Seuil, 2013).
In spite of the crisis of 2008 and the hand-wringing that followed, nothing was done to police the financial community and submit them to the requirements of the common good. Who paid? Ordinary people, you and me.
And while the Belgian State consented to 7 billion-euro ten-year tax breaks for multinationals, ordinary litigants have seen surcharges imposed on access to justice (increased court fees, 21% taxation on legal fees). From now on, to obtain redress the victims of injustice are going to have to be rich.
All this in a state where the number of public representatives breaks all international records. In this particular area, no evaluation and no costs studies are reporting profit. One example:  thirty years after the introduction of the federal system, the provincial institutions survive. Nobody can say what purpose they serve. Streamlining and the managerial ideology have conveniently stopped at the gates of the political world.

The security ideal

Terrorism, this other nihilism that exposes our weakness in affirming our values, is likely to aggravate the process by soon making it possible for all violations of our liberties, all violations of our rights, to circumvent the powerless qualified judges, further reducing social protection for the poor, who will be sacrificed to “the security ideal”.

Salvation in commitment

These developments certainly threaten the foundations of our democracy, but do they condemn us to discouragement and despair?
Certainly not. 500 years ago, at the height of the defeats that brought down most Italian states with the imposition of foreign occupation for more than three centuries, Niccolo Machiavelli urged virtuous men to defy fate and stand up against the adversity of the times, to prefer action and daring to caution. The more tragic the situation, the more it necessitates action and the refusal to “give up” (The Prince, Chapters XXV and XXVI).
This is a teaching that is clearly required today. The determination of citizens attached to the radical of democratic values is an invaluable resource which has not yet revealed, at least in Belgium, its driving potential and power to change what is presented as inevitable. Through social networking and the power of the written word, everyone can now become involved, particularly when it comes to public services, universities, the student world, the judiciary and the Bar, in bringing the common good and social justice into the heart of public debate and the administration of the state and the community.
Neoliberalism is a species of fascism. It must be fought and humanism fully restored.


Published in the Belgian daily Le Soir, March 3, 2016, translated from French by Wayne Hall.

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Tog

Reblogged this on sideshowtog.

Eli
Eli

This is one of the most ignorant, poorly thought out articles I’ve seen in a long time. “Every totalitarianism starts as distortion of language.” Example: this article.
Neoliberalism does not advocate for regulatory capture by industry. That is the result of cronyism. Neoliberalism argues that regulation only be used when absolutely necessary, thereby minimizing the potential for cronyism and regulatory capture.

Affidavit Donda
Affidavit Donda

That’s a textbook misunderstanding. The key concept here is “ideology”, meaning in its simplest form saying one thing and standing for another. The ideology of liberalism is individual freedom. What it actually does in terms of practical politics, especially in its extreme form commonly called “neoliberalism”, is subjugation of individual freedom under the freedom of the market. But it doesn’t even stop there, because these free markets imposed by deregularization, free trade agreements etc. are actually not characterized by individual free entrepreneurs, but by multinational corporations. “Neoliberalism” is freedom not of individuals, but of corporations to exploit and destroy without liability. Totalitarianism doesn’t need to be organized through the state, it can just as well be organized through private enterprises, where the state plays the “minimal” role of arbiter of corporate interests (what Marx called ideeller Gesamtkapitalist) . That is the situation we find ourselves in today. And cronyism is not an imperfection of that system but a core feature, because the whole point of the global free market is appropriation of riches by a small “elite” at the expense of the vast majority of people.

moreurgentjest

it’s all about protecting privilege and increasing it, because some people can just never have enough

Clara
Clara

Thanks for your comment ..a wonderful synopsis of where we are today. Where to from here.

P. Lewis

Reblogged this on A Black Writer in Berlin and commented:
On the money, and I will be writing again about the catastrophic effects that neoliberalism has had on culture and thought world-wide. Also, in a few months I will have my own YouTube channel up and running and will (naturally) discuss this new milquetoast, touchy-feely totalitarianism that may be infinitely more refined than Hitlerism or Maoism or old-school fascism, but is no less lethal.

Bruce
Bruce

That Would Be HALFASCISM !

rogerglewis
jillmirran

Reblogged this on Dreaming 🐦 Freedom.

rogerglewis

Reblogged this on MUSO MUSINGS ON FATHERHOOD THEORY AND STUFF and commented:
This is a very incisive and direct article. It shows Neo Liberalsism for the Extreme and Fascist Ideology that it is.
http://letthemconfectsweeterlies.blogspot.se/2014/07/u-r-fascismumberto-ecos-1995-essay.html

pavlovscat7
pavlovscat7

Neo-liberalism is the canned laughter of fascism.

Mark Webster

This supports my own research, in which I identified German WWII Nazi methodologies at the Ministry of Social Development. I published this on Medium.
https://medium.com/@markwebster/new-zealand-the-distant-paradise-has-resemblances-to-nazi-germany-d177382c228#.veejexheo

Pam Vernon
shyamal
shyamal

Wonderful site and extremely informative

David Bauerly
David Bauerly

AS an Amerikan the term neoliberal has a different impact I believe than it does in the context of European use of the word. Could someone give a succinct definition of what the term means in the context of European parlance.
I too have found this article and discussion incredibly interesting and enlightening, especially in light of the potential nightmare of our next four years here in the states.

pavlovscat7
pavlovscat7

neoliberals…the franchised, new chosen ones…the pending six million..the persecuted of perfidys’ trick..can’t you hear all those sweet voices singing?

pavlovscat7
pavlovscat7

Nero fiddled while Rome burned…the Neolibs were the folk dancing to the tune:

Citizen Shane

I regularly have been using the term “Neo-Liberal Fascism,” because I’m of the perspective that it’s now bypassed the point of being a “breed” of Fascism, and especially considering that Adolf ran under the same party-name as Bernie originally (“Democratic Socialist Party”), it’s just ALWAYS been Fascism.

pavlovscat7
pavlovscat7

Yes..its always been fascism but, it helps the neolibfascists’ cause to still have Hitler and fascism inscribed and uttered as an ablative absolute in the lexicon.

Emily Elizabeth Windsor-Cragg

These same neo-fascists work with the NEOCON Party on the side of so-called Conservatives to pursue Globalist repression, waste and population reduction genocide. In this way they keep both Conservative and Liberal parties COVERED and dominated by Globalist dogma. To hell with Equity, Justice or Fairness.

pavlovscat7
pavlovscat7

…..WESTMINSTER..(the geometry of a reich)
TWO gangs of sophists hiding
behind red-white and blue
to get the nod from Caesar
To tax and indict you:
THAT’S Mzs Saxe-Coburg-Gotha
you call her Lizzie Two
she cares not one iota
what meins’ters do to you:
THE fourth estate’s the urger
you have to get that clue
they just have to remember
to render, sum unto:
There are myopic corporate pyramids
on their expanding base of you
where lodger-boys draw gables
agreed their greed is virtue:
This view..Illuminati..
could make you feel quite blue
until you’ve sussed the formula..
..which I will now reduce for you..
..You take the base and times the base-
you add the base onto-
You take the bleeding sum of that-
And divide the plebs by two…..ad infinitum:

chrisb
chrisb

Funny how many critics of neo-liberalism are fascists such as Le Pen. That’s because to be a fascist is to be a nationalist and to believe in strong national governments. Neo-liberalism in contrast supports the transfer of power to supra-national entities. The fascist economy is a mixed economy with the national government able to exert immense power over the conduct of private business. Neo-liberalism in contrast expects national governments to have no influence over private business.
The word ‘Fascism’ comes from ‘fascio’ in Italian meaning bundle or sheaf. If ‘Fascism’ as a word is to have a meaning, it is to describe Italy under Mussolini. To use the same word to describe 21st century globalisation is to negate the word’s meaning.

Jason Killbourn
Jason Killbourn

A very good point, as, strictly speaking, by those terms, we should refer to neo-liberalism as a transnational plutocracy, or at least that appears to be where it’s heading. However for many people, increasingly robbed of democracy and being bled dry, down at the sharp end of things, there is little difference between the two systems in practice. Furthermore, the term Fascism has long since passed into common parlance, to be widely viewed by many as simply anti-democratic and supportive of a totalitarian regime, sometimes with nationalistic, or even racist connotations. In this instance, you are very right to point out that neo-liberalism is neither racist, nor nationalistic in nature, though it does, if left unchecked, lead to an hegemony of international moneyed interests over the affairs and government of nation states, so we can at least say that it is anti-democratic and supportive of totalitarianism (in this case, a plutocracy). I guess most of us do tend to use the word out of context and quite offhand, and I am as guilty as the next man, but I do think it’s always a good thing to be pulled up on such things.

pavlovscat7
pavlovscat7

Aren’t the fasces the columns that support the stone, Abraham Lincolns’ arm rests?

jdseanjd

Fine site, fine article & fine comments.
Thank you all.
John Doran.

Jason Killbourn
Jason Killbourn

An excellent and most thought provoking article. I have long thought neoliberalism to be fascism, except I arrived at that conclusion from an economic perspective, whilst researching the foundation and rise of neoclassical economics. Also that quote from Orwell has haunted me for quite some time, as it was a corruption of the very language of economics that lies at the heart of that story, which is one that played out over 100 years ago. It’s a story that involves the same moneyed interests, the same use of public relations, and the same erosion of democracy in both political and academic institutions, simply because it is the same story, and to fully understand neoliberalism, you have to rewind about 120 years to pinpoint the preconditions for its inception. Fortunately most of what happened did so in plain sight and is well documented. No laws were broken, as such, but nevertheless, arguably one of the greatest crimes against humanity was set in motion for the most banal reasons of economic protectionism. There is a way out of the problem, but it’ll take years and an incredible effort to reform what is to all intents and purposes a predominant religion that has become ingrained into our society.

pavlovscat7
pavlovscat7

Won’t happen Jason..neolibs are the canned laughter of dialectical materialism.

Peter H Patterson
Peter H Patterson

An interesting article that needs to be read several times to fully comprehend the meaning. We need tolerance and understanding, but what desicion would we make in the shoes of the politicians? Not sure I wasted 7 minutes in watching the video.

broodjejaap

I have re-blogged it as well at TheConnectivist

broodjejaap

Reblogged this on The Connectivist and commented:
Another sharp signal that neither The State or The Market are working properly anymore.
jaap van till, The Connectivist