33

Neoliberalism and its Discontents

Frank Lee

Pure economics is not a theory of real-world economics, of actually-existing capitalism, but of an imaginary capitalism.”
Samir Amin, The Liberal Virus (2004)

According to orthodox economic trade theory, free movement of labour, capital and commodities, will result in flows into the most optimal investment and growth areas. In doing so this process will be seen to maximise social welfare in terms of growth of income and output. At the level of theory this may seem disarmingly plausible; in practise, however, the theory begs a number of key questions and is not necessarily always the case. Like much orthodox economic theory, the free-trade paradigm is a one-size fits all prescriptive model; always and everywhere it is thought to be the policy of choice. Free-up the markets and they will deliver the goods.

This is, to say the least, a questionable view.

The quasi-religious belief in the efficacy of free trade and factor input movement is the cornerstone of trade agreements such as free-trade areas like NAFTA and trading blocs like the EU and MERCOSUR. In the world of actually-existing capitalism, however, free-trade and free-markets have never to any great extent really existed. It should be understood that orthodox economic theory is, as Amin stated, a purely ideological construct bearing only a tenuous connection with the real world. At every stage of capitalist development, the state, government and public authority has actively intervened in shaping and promoting the economic policies of the domestic and international economy.

Contrary to hyper-globalist assertions – which we might call ‘state-denial’ – the state and its role is and unquestionably remains the most significant force in shaping both the national and world economy. This was evident as far back as Tudor England and beyond when the English monarchs banned the importation of woollen cloth in an early version of infant industry protection transforming England from an importing wool country into the most formidable wool and later manufacturing country in the world.

The Rise of Mercantilism

It was the same in both the United States and Germany who played catch-up with the UK in the late 19th century. The proto-architect of US mercantilism was Alexander Hamilton (1789-1795) who overcame the free-trade preferences of Thomas Jefferson in the early stages of US economic development; but it was the civil war – 1861-65 – essentially a conflict between the protectionist north and the free-trading south, which settled the issue. Ex-Commander of the Union Army of the Potomac, Ulysses Simpson Grant, later to become US President argued that:

For centuries England has relied on protection, has carried it to extremes and has obtained satisfactory results from it. There is no doubt that it is to this system that it owes its present strength. After two centuries, England has found it convenient to adopt free trade because it thinks that protection can no longer offer it anything. Very well then, gentlemen, my knowledge of our country leads me to believe that within 200 years, when America has gotten out of protection all that it can offer, it too will adopt free trade.”[]

In Germany, Friedrich List (1789-1846) who also had scant regard for any ‘free-market’ nonsense and the Ricardian corollary of comparative advantage was instrumental in promoting a system of political guidance from above as a policy for economic development.

…the first stage (of such a long-term policy) is one of adopting free-trade with more advanced nations as a means of raising themselves from a state of barbarism, and of making advances in agriculture; in the second stage, promoting the growth of manufactures, fisheries, navigation and foreign trade by means of commercial restrictions; and in the last stage, on after reaching the highest degree of wealth and power by gradually reverting to the principle of free-trade and of unrestricted competition in the home and in foreign markets.[2]

This was a policy which was taken up by Bismarck and enabled Germany to outperform its European rivals, principally the UK. And in many ways German nationalist mercantilism which pretty much dominates the EU, is still much in evidence today.

Generally speaking the reversion to free-trade from protectionism has been a difficult transition. If free-trade does exist it does so only between highly developed nations, or between nations of roughly equal levels of development. There is no question that free trade can ever become a source of growth and development between nations of unequal economic status; such development has never worked and in all probability never will. Hence given the policy prescriptions stipulated by the ruling institutions of global capitalism, and their applications, the increasing divergence between developed, semi-developed and under-developed states becomes apparent and understandable.

Furthermore, simply opening up a developing economy to global market forces will almost certainly lead to further disaster. There is always the danger of local businesses being wiped out by more efficient foreign competition before they can get a toehold into the wider world. This was certainly the case in Russia during the 1990s during the Yeltsin years. Hence a prerequisite for positive and beneficial engagement with the global economy is the development of robust internal structures; the development of a national economy is more about internal integration than external integration.

Mindful of this, the development strategies employed in the East Asian states and economies were in flat contradiction to the IMF/World Bank, Washington consensus orthodoxy, and met – mirabile dictu – with considerable success. One particular facet of this policy was instanced in both early Japanese and South Korean policy on inward investment; both states were to discourage these inflows since they might well have had a debilitating effect on the development of firms in the domestic economy.

The Washington Consensus: A Recipe for Failure

Yet the Ricardian ideology still holds sway in the textbooks regardless of the outcome of such policies. Hidebound and utterly incapable of reform the systems institutions (see below) and their spokespersons are aptly personified in the words of one of Samuel Becket’s characters, “I must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

It should always be borne in mind that practical results have little to do with the persuasiveness of ideologies.

This, ideological paradigm both permeates and is pretty much obligatory in the ruling institutions of global capitalism: i.e., those progenies of the Bretton Woods conference, the IMF, GATT-WTO and World Bank, as well as other bodies such as the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) the OECD and G7. Any questioning of the holy script is treated as blasphemy and relegated to mocking footnotes or treated as being non-existent.

But this fixation with ideology has had extremely deleterious effects in practice, both in the developing world but more recently particularly in Europe. Suffice it to say that the EU defenders of the faith are completely sold on the putative beneficial outcomes on the first holy trinity of free-movement of labour, capital and commodities. And of course, this holy trinity is crucial to an understanding of the results of these policies.

So long as a country is a member of the EU – even if it not bound by a specific programme imposing austerity measures because of its huge debt, and so forth – it will still be bound by the catastrophic neoliberal rules imposed by the various EU treaties. That is to say the EU treaties that followed the Treaty of Maastricht, which institutionalised the opening and liberalisation of the markets for commodities, capital and labour, and which, indirectly, imply also privatisations and the phasing out of the welfare state. (my emphasis – FL) This on top of the severe restrictions imposed on fiscal policy through the stringent rules imposed upon budget deficits and debt-to-GDP ratios (through the Stability and Growth Pact) which indirectly impose austerity.”[3]

We should be by now also familiar with the imposition of the second holy trinity of privatisation-liberalisation-deregulation policies and the effects which these policies have visited upon the world courtesy of the so-called ‘Washington Consensus’.

We are now being asked to believe that these policies which have further impoverished people and are devastating the planet will in fact lead to diametrically different and highly beneficial outcomes, if only they can be accelerated and applied everywhere, freely and without restrictions; that is when they are globalized.”[4]

Euroland Stagnation

This trade between unequals also applies to nations which form the EU trade bloc. Given that the core countries – in this instance Germany/Austria, Benelux and Scandinavia – have higher productivity and lower cost levels this will, given the same currency usage which is the case in the Eurozone, result in trade surpluses for the core economies and trade deficits for the peripheral economies who have higher costs lower productivity and cannot devalue. Or, more precisely can only opt for ‘internal devaluation’ – otherwise known as austerity.

However, latest annual GDP growth figures for the big 4 has been uniformly poor. As follows: the UK 1.5%, France 1.4%, Germany 1.1% and Italy 0.7% (Source: Trading Economics). Growth of this level almost guarantees rising unemployment and weak levels of investment. Additionally, the EU’s southern periphery has been staked out on the ant-ill of internal devaluation but was pulled out of a lasting downturn due to an (admittedly weak) global recovery which started circa, 2010. At the present time GDP growth in the Euro area as a whole is 1.6%, which does not include the Eastern periphery – apart from the Baltics – since they do not use the euro currency.

It is also worth bearing in mind that these states started from a very low base. A high rate of growth in a poor(ish) country can always boast high GDP when starting from ground zero. So, Poland, very much the blue-eyed boy of the western financial institutions, clocked up 5% GDP growth in the last financial year. Impressive, until you read on and discover, firstly, that Poland has a lower per capita income than Greece, the poorest country in western Europe, and that Bangladesh had a growth rate of 7.4% and Pakistan 5.79%.[5]

IMF/WB Shock Therapy

There has been much written and said about the economic/political situation in Southern Europe but much less in Eastern Europe. The ex-Soviet satellites and Republics have received less attention in the business and financial media. What attention they have received paints a rosy picture of full-employment, runaway growth which have been a function of the rapid shock therapy which caused such mayhem in Russia in the 1990s.
But in economic terms there is no comparison between Eastern and even Central Europe to Western Europe.

The Czech Republic, reputed to be the success story Central/Eastern states just squeezes into bottom of the income hierarchy of the west as measured in GDP per capita of $39,337.00 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP). The only western states which fall below the Czech Republic are Portugal $33,409.00 and Greece $30,522.00. I have not counted in the Balkans since they do not constitute functioning states. Western Europe GDP per capita start at the lowest point – Greece – and climb to a dizzying peak of $76,321 for Norway.[6]

After the demise of the communist system in Eastern Europe the West was invited in to share the secrets of its success with the ingenues of the Slavic world. The was largely engineered with dual membership of the EU and NATO and something called “The Eastern Partnership” a propaganda offensive launched by the hawkish Swedes and Poles to entice the states of Eastern Europe into the anti-Russian alliance. Eastern and Central Europe was to become a geopolitical and economic hinterland and spread up to the western frontiers of Russia. In short order the putative cure all of Eastern European ailments was to be the third holy trinity of deindustrialisation, denationalisation, and depopulation (that is, free movement of labour). The standard shock therapy concoction brewed up by the IMF/WB mixture to guarantee economic stagnation and underdevelopment.

A case study by Michael Hudson[7] is illustrative of the whole process which happened, and is still happening in Eastern Europe, he writes with reference to Latvia:

Post-soviet economies were free of public debt, real estate and personal debt or other bank loans that they obtained when the obtained their political independence in 1991 … like other post-soviet economies Latvians wanted to achieve the type of prosperity they saw in Western Europe. If Latvia had actually followed the policies that had built up the western industrial nations, the state would have taxed wealth and income progressively to invest in public infrastructure. Instead Latvia’s ‘miracle’ assumed largely predatory forms of rent-seeking and insider privatisations. [My emphasis – FL]

Accepting US and Swedish advice to impose the world’s lopsided and set of neoliberal tax and financial policies, Latvia imposed the heaviest taxes on labour. Employers must pay a flat 25% tax on wages plus a 25% social service tax, whilst wage earners pay another 11% service tax … Persons who advocated taxing real estate and financial wealth, or even supported public spending, protecting consumers and other regulation were accused of threatening a return to communism. A black and white contrast is drawn: either soviet style socialism, or neoliberal ideology denying that there is any such thing as a viable mixed economy.”
Op.cit. pp.286-287

There followed a period of phony, debt-fuelled growth which inevitably popped in 2008 when in Warren Buffet’s amusing little quip ‘’You only see who’s been swimming naked when the tide’s gone out.’’ And in the fullness of time the tide went out for Latvia. By 2008 it had become common knowledge that the post-soviet economies not really grown at all but had simply been financialised and indebted.

Eastern Europe – A Demographic Disaster Zone

What was true of Latvia was also true for Lithuania and Estonia.* The policies of liberalisation and privatisation and deregulation have resulted in a massive exodus of young and talented migrants from the Baltics to the more salubrious climes of Western Europe, mainly Germany and the Scandinavian states. The depopulation phenomenon was not a policy as such, but it emerged as the unanticipated corollary to other parts of the neoliberal policy baggage.

Post-independence from the Soviet bloc in 1991, the population of Latvia has been diminishing annually with the rate of 23,000 people a year. These frightening figures were unveiled last March by a professor of the University of Latvia, demographer Peteris Zvidriņš who would note that the sad reality is that Latvia loses a small town every two weeks. In raw figures, that is 55 people a day, or 1,650 people a month. Another Latvian demographer, who heads a local office of the International Organization for Migration of the United Nations, Ilmar Mezhs, has recently told Skaties.lv that most of those who are leaving Latvia are not planning to go back.

Referring to the forecasts of Eurostat, Mezhs suggested that in sixty years in the place of 2.7 million people who had previously resided in Latvia, one would find less than a million people still dwelling in this country. According to preliminary reports, the country’s population has already been reduced to 1.946 million people. Latvia has been plagued by high mortality rates along with the massive exodus of its people since 1991. According to LTV7, a local media station, the situation in maternity wards across Latvia is critical: low salaries often go hand-in-hand with a shortage of medical personnel, especially young professionals. If the situation is not addressed urgently, as various Latvian media sources report, there will be no qualified doctors left in hospitals.

The latest Eurostat report on the situation in Lithuania shows that up to 29% of the inhabitants are living on the verge of poverty, with the situation remaining unchanged for eight consecutive years. At the same time, Lithuania is among the top five states of the EU where people are being employed for meagre salaries. The sad reality of this trend is evident in historical records showing an unprecedented drop in the population of this Baltic country, falling from 3.7 million back in 1990 to 2.8 million in 2016 – a 25% decline. Income inequality and the striking poverty of some Lithuanian residents is only getting worse over time, putting Lithuania on the list of the poorest EU states. A typical resident would pay a third of his monthly salary in a bid to get access to healthcare services.

It’s not surprising that for many years Lithuania has had the largest number of suicide cases in the EU. Therefore, it is quite understandable why Lithuania remains a country that consumes more alcohol than any other, as it’s been stated by the World Health Organization (WHO). A similar situation can be seen in other Eastern European countries, that are being described, according to Der Spiegel, as so-called “second speed EU states … Apart from migration additional factors exacerbate the problem namely: low birth, and increasing death rates.

The long list of domestic social problems in the Baltic states has been largely ignored by media engaged in a massive Russophobia campaign promoted by Washington. Rolandas Paksas, the former president of Lithuania and now the European Parliament deputy, summed up the results of the post-Soviet period in the history of the republic in March. In his opinion, nothing has been done in the past twenty-seven years of independence nor has anything been built. Therefore, as Paksas points out, every year there are fewer and fewer people in Lithuania, and the life of those who remain is only becoming more difficult.

The emergence of depopulation in Eastern Europe stretches well beyond the Baltics and is now posing a profound short and long-term problem for the whole area. The surge westward started when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. The figures below just cover the years from 2006-2017. Eastern Europe population declines between 2006-2017:

  • Lithuania 12%
  • Latvia 12%
  • Ukraine 9%
  • Hungary 8.5%
  • Romania 7%
  • Bulgaria 6%
  • Estonia 1.5%
  • Poland 0.5%
  • Russia, slight increase
  • Slovakia, slight increase
  • Czech Republic, slight increase.

In a recent article in Le Monde diplomatique the depth of the demographic crisis is made clear[8].

“Eastern Europe Experiencing Deep Demographic Crisis” – Dmitry Dobrov

Depopulation of Eastern Europe is connected not only with the outflow of labour resources: after 1989, the era of wild capitalism began in the former “socialist countries”, accompanied by the collapse of social and medical systems, a sharp increase in mortality, especially among men, with a simultaneous fall in the birth rate.

The process began in late 1989 with a massive exodus of the population from East Germany, Poland, and Hungary to the countries of Western Europe in search of higher earnings, which continues to this day, covering practically all former countries of the socialist camp. Over the past 30 years, Romania lost 14% of the population, Moldova – 16.9%, Ukraine – 18%, Bosnia – 19.9%, Bulgaria and Lithuania – 20.8%, Latvia – 25.3% of the population. Depopulation also affected the eastern regions of Germany (the former GDR), which in the literal sense of the word were emptied.

Depopulation of Eastern Europe is connected not only to the outflow of labour resources: after 1989, the era of wild capitalism began in the former “socialist countries”, accompanied by the collapse of social and medical systems, a sharp increase in mortality, especially among men, with a simultaneous fall in the birth rate. However, the main blow to demography caused the outcome of the population, especially the youngest, active, qualified group. In the historical homeland remained children, pensioners and persons incapable of actively seeking work abroad.

According to the UN, all ten of the world’s most “endangered” countries are in Eastern Europe. They are Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary, the Baltic republics and the former Yugoslavia, as well as Moldova and Ukraine. By 2050 the population of these countries will decrease by another 15-23%. This means, in particular, that the population of Bulgaria will drop from 7 to 5 million people, Latvia – from 2 to 1.5 million.

In the meantime, Eastern Europe continues to lose its most talented, youngest and ambitions people. In Hungary alone, since joining the EU in 2004, 5,000 doctors have left the country, mostly under the age of 40. There is also a shortage of technicians and mechanics who also have left for Austria, Germany and other more congenial Western European climes: These have included nurses, carpenters, locksmiths and skilled workers moved from Poland, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia to the West where there is an acute skill shortage. This skill shortage has been exacerbated by the deindustrialisation of a number of western states. This is due to the fact that the youth of the west aspire to be investment bankers, pop stars, footballers and reality show celebrities and not engineers and artisans

But the most drastic consequences of the “post-communist breakdown” have been experienced by Ukraine – once one of the most developed republics of the USSR. If in the early 1990s there were 52 million people in the republic, now the population does not exceed 42 million. So much for the revolution of dignity and promises of freedom democracy and abundance promised by the EU. The Kiev Institute of Demography estimates a population of 32 million by 2050 or perhaps sooner. According to recent polls, 35% of Ukrainians declared their readiness to emigrate usually to other Eastern European states; particularly Russia and Poland. The process accelerated after Ukraine received a visa-free regime with the EU: about 100,000 people leave the country every month. Ukraine is not so much a failing state, it is more a dying state.

All of which goes to show that Russophobia doesn’t put food on the table. The peoples of Eastern Europe have been subjected to a three-card confidence trick find the lady, a card game practised by petty thieves on dumb tourists in the streets of central London. It may work for a time, but ultimately the deteriorating conditions of life are and will be such that there will be a search for alternatives.

The global neoliberal regime is beginning to run up against increasing resistance, particularly in Europe. Given that the whole purpose of the regime is to direct money flows to the 1% at the expense of the 99% the political outcome of this was entirely predictable.

La Lotta Continua

NOTES:
  • [1] – Monthly Review Press – 1967
  • [2] – Friedrich List, National System of Political Economy (1841 p.141)
  • [3] – Takis Fotopolous, The New World Order in Action (pp.156-157)
  • [4] – Jerry Mander et al., The Case Against the Global Economy
  • [5] – Source: Trading Economics
  • [6] – www.countryeconomics.com
  • [7] – Michael Hudson, Killing the Host (2015)
  • [8] – “Eastern Europe Experiencing a Deep Demographic Crisis.” – Dmitry Dobrov, Le Monde diplomatique 05 July 2018

Frank Lee left school at age 15 without any qualifications, but gained degrees from both New College Oxford and the London School of Economics (it's a long story). He spent many years as a lecturer in politics and economics, and in the Civil Service, before retirement. He lives in Sutton with his wife and little dog.

Filed under: Economics, Essays, latest

by

Frank Lee left school at age 15 without any qualifications, but gained degrees from both New College Oxford and the London School of Economics (it's a long story). He spent many years as a lecturer in politics and economics, and in the Civil Service, before retirement. He lives in Sutton with his wife and little dog.

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Joerg
Reader
Joerg

Excellent article!
1) I love this ingenious notion from above: “It should always be borne in mind that practical results have little to do with the persuasiveness of ideologies.

2)
Laissez-faire” and “The market”
The biggest fraud of liberalism is the assertion that the market regulates itself (the state should stay out of the states economy let big business rule “the market” and itself). Because with this allegation they attach logically that a current economic market (e.g. a national market.) is a stable system – such as a hanging pendulum which, in fact, once placed out of balance, brings itself all by itself back into balance again.
However, today’s markets are not stable but unstable systems(!) – comparing to a standing pendulum which, once out of balance, has permanently to be pushed back from the right or from the left, if you want to prevent it from speeding down – equalling a rapidly escalating economical disaster.
A “market-economy” (= 1st: Fair balance between a major supplier and a small supplier and 2nd: Fair balance between suppliers and consumers) is conceivable only by authoritarian PERMANENT INTERVENTION by the state. This “intervention” of course doesn’t mean to make permanently new laws – like, sadly, it has become a habit nowadays (dog kills child – parliament will rush to make a tougher law for dog owners) . It means only that the specific article of the law works algorithmic (like you earn this much this year – you are in a certain tax class. Next year you earn double as much – you get into a higher tax class) .

Unstable systems (standing pendulum) are by no means ‘evil’: For example, today’s fighter planes have their impellent point behind(!) their balance point (seen from the front). This “labile” form of propulsion leads to significant fuel savings (advantage: payload, range). Of course, this way of construction became only possible since we have efficient, yet lightweight computers. With these “labile” fighter jets the computerized navigation system executes – unnoticed by the pilot – permanently interventions within milliseconds .Otherwise the planes tail would brake out immediately.
Unlike the medieval agriculture today’s agriculture is also an “labile” system. Already a lot of years ago I read of a ruinous plague of locusts in the corn belt of the United States. So they forgot o n c e to sow this agrarian poison in time (or enough, or the right poison) and immediately the standing pendulum chases escalating downwards!

Why is the market economy an unstable system?
Lets take the supply side and lets take e. g. two competing manufacturers. One is big, the other is small. The big one will eliminate the small one sooner or later. Because if the big competitor puts 1% of his revenues into research – and the little one does the same – the absolutely usable amount the big one can invest is much more then the small one can invest (1% of the revenues of the big one is significantly more than the 1% of the revenues of the smaller one). This means: The big competitor will make more/better inventions or more profitable inventions as the small one. In addition, the big one can use its inventions also for a larger number of products being sold, since its production is so much greater than that of the small one.
For a state and its citizens a permanent and real competition of its industry towards quality and price of their products is of huge importance. To keep alive this competition the state must intervene into this “labile” system and ensure the preservation of competition. One could think of a higher tax burden for the bigger product or service provider. But there are many possibilities.
In addition to the safeguarding of competition (between providers) the state authority has also to ensure the balance between vendors and purchasers (consumers, but also industrial customers) by interventions and regulations.

DunGroanin
Reader
DunGroanin

Excellent educative read and comments.

I can only add that learning GCE Economics in the 70’s being presented with the up and coming Chicago School BS the concept of ‘Mobility’.

It still blights the British landscape – from the poor towns with dead high streeets to the overpriced city states.

In the past populations were moved to provide labour by taking people as unwillilng slaves, then indentured labourers, then forced unionised labourers … now as indebted or poverty striken labourers, who move by themselves!
What great magicians these masters of Money are!

jdseanjd
Reader

Not forgetting the forced 1840s famines in Ireland to provide plenty of cheap labour for the growing industrial North America.

John Doran.

David Eire
Reader
David Eire

Neoliberalism is Neo-Feudalism.

BigB
Reader
BigB

Excellent, Frank. I particularly like the expose of Euro-disparity, which can only be exacerbated by the newly federal ‘Franco-Germany’ core state – which will no doubt exploit the disparity of its periphery (east, west, north, south) even further.

Inasmuch as neoliberalism is an externalised economic system, it is also a internalised psychological process. There is an implicate and explicate order to the neoliberal systemic-reality. Or, unreality. And a reciprocal dialectic relationship of the two.

To which: we are all its discontents. The systemic-reality of the capitalist imaginal is perpetuated discontent. What would happen to the valorisation of capital if we were all perpetually content, toward a spiritual self-sufficiency in who we really are? Or to the competitive hierarchies of inequality class relations (of production) if we were all co-mutually interdependent within communities of equals?

The neoliberal systemic DNA is one of valorisable, advertisable, and marketable discontent. The entire focus of the media-cultural spectacle is entrancement of the individual in webs of attraction, distraction, and entanglement in effuse spin. The effect is to draw the individual conscious awareness ever outward into a social samjna* of individuated containment. Once isolated and contained: the neoliberal statist predator can feed on the host at will. So long as we are an individuated one, not One.

[*samjna – the grasping of discriminations and differentiations and their arrangement into patterns of association – a characteristic structuring of the I-concept (self-view = atma drsti)].

The systemic-reality is completely reliant on the externalisation of reality. From Yogacara/Zen: the systemic-reality can be reduced to the psychological root process of ‘graha-grahaka’ or ‘graha-dvaya’ – the ‘twofold grasping’ – ‘grasping’ after self and the exteriorised (fetishised) objects of self. Both of these are the reified and fixated objects of desire. The ‘grasping’ analogy beautifully captures the inexistent nature of both the (internalised) self-subject and the externalised (as independent of consciousness) self-object. This is the atma/dharma (self/other) polarity and (subject/object) duality I call Otherisation. Neoliberalism is nothing more than systemised, institutionalised Otherisation …the imaginary capitalist economy of discontent.

This view of reality is a bottom-up processing of the fixed and substantial objective nature of an exteriorised phenomenological ground. That which pre-exists and post-dates the sensate experience of it (objective permanence). From Yogacara/Zen – and latterly modern neuroanatomical and neuroscientific research – this is not so. Whatever reality is, in as much as the word, or even the Sign, can represent it – it is not out there. Nor is it in here. Subject and object are interpenetrative and inter-relational – not separating. Always whole. Always One.

I do not want to get too hooked into the conceptual analysis: but there are two terms from the literature that are apposite – the ‘inside/out’ architecture of the brain; and ‘predictive processing’. We do not re-present a pre-existing mind-independent non-conscious phenomenological ground. Whatever exists in its suchness and isness is us, emanates from us, reciprocally affirming us. Not two, not one: a differentiated inter-relational interbeing.

There is nothing independent of the consciousness of it …nothing exteriorised to grab but the misplaced and mislabelled consciousness of it. The neoliberal systemic-reality is one of grabbing the misplaced concreteness of thin air. Hence the pseudo-materiality of discontent. We truly cannot have what we cannot have …it is always beyond the grasping. We can only have what we already are, beyond the imaginary grasping (that which takes us away from ourselves into the entanglement of spin).

Beyond the grasping: everything inter-is …we inter-are. Beyond the self-imposed limitations of graha-dvaya: we can put forth (intentionally predict) a world of potentiality, nonduality, novelty, creativeness, and equality …never tomorrow, always today. Can neoliberal imaginary capitalism offer that?

We already have the plenitude of a new systemic-reality; the potentiality of which increases every thought-moment we put forth together. When we are truly discontent of the discontent, a new world is here …today.

wardropper
Reader
wardropper

Our so-called “representatives” who serve only Washington today, never had any intention of “putting food on the table”.
They want us to die, because the spoils go to them.
And, let me be clear: That table is the same one of which Nancy Pelosi spoke when she said that the impeachment of G.W. Bush was “off the table”. She meant HER table, or THEIR table. Not ours.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a human being in a western parliament who seriously intended to help decent, conscientious people with common sense – with the possible exception of Corbyn – although I fear that the media’s attempts to portray him as a fanatical Trotskyist with no intelligence are succeeding.

Some Random Passer-by
Reader
Some Random Passer-by

Corbyns failure will be protecting the middle class and their whining about brexit.

Not only is he proving that democracy doesn’t exist (do laws etc exist when democracy does not?), he is pandering to the group that essentially gifted the brexit result to begin with.

Frankly Speaking
Reader
Frankly Speaking

“They want us to die, because the spoils go to them”

No, they want us to live in order to consume their products. That life should be full of illness too so that we consume their expensive pharmaceuticals and hospital treatments.

However, They now have a problem because so many people are dying prematurely and threatening their profit streams, hence opening the doors to uncontrolled mass immigration, ie more consumers.

Neoliberalism is a gigantic failure which is destroying humanity and the planet. A swing to the extreme opposite is not the answer though. We might not get the chance to find the right balance before humanity and the planet is destroyed this century.

Kathy
Reader
Kathy

They want us to live and die in a half life as zombies. Shadows of our true selves.Well enough to work and consume. To keep us on the medications and the toxic waste food. Keep us shopping and filling our hollow miserable lives with things we don’t need and to feed our addictions. As they inflate the price of everything so we are all in dept and eaten up by that dept. The very nature of dept is to own a part of you. An energy steeling pound of flesh. We have become the consumable. Our expectations are deliberately kept low and our intellect stunted. Their hope is we don’t wake up to it. If we do. It is them that will become weekend. The more people recognize the nightmare we are in. The more we can regain consciousness and start to believe another way is possible. We all instinctively know how to live in peace and harmony. It is innate within us all. We have been gas lighted and have our confidence shattered but we can leave this unhealthy relationship and move on to a better existence. The critical mass is rising up. The tides are turning.

George Cornell
Reader
George Cornell

Nice one, Frank.

falcemartello
Reader

La lotta conitnua rings loud and clear.
As Mr Lee so aptly states by using verifiable data that neo-liberal economics has failed western civilisation. Lets take ride down memory lane. Eisenhower regime in the 50’s had an aggressive prossive taxation system . Basically the more you earned the more you payed. If one exceeded 200 thousand US dollars during the 50’s you were taxed at 96 percent. His administration engaged in the largest infrastructure expansion in US history. He would often complain that the military industrial complex was trying to high jack the US government. He was quoted to say(I am paraphrasing)The cost of a bomb was equivalent to a school building or a hospital.
Since the emergence of and dominance of neo-liberal economics from the infamous Chicago school basically from Thatcher to Regan and the famous trickle down theory ,western democracies have been highjacked and the social contract that every western sovereign state had with its citizenry has been eroded. Humans are now codified and quantified and commercialised just like a commodity
I posit this question Eisenhower being a known Republican> If he were around today would he not be accused of being a socialist? The largest wealth gap since the Gilded age and still not one western politico or celebrity economist ever discuss such pertinent economic issue. The Emperor has no clothes and we are well beyond the Marie Antionette moment the Gilet Jaunes is proof of that. Will the rest of the none plutocrat class wake up in the west?
Other pertinent questions that are never debated are the whole function of artificial intelligence and how it will replace the labour force. Further more the 5g network and increase in surveillance with in our so called liberal western free democracy.
My oh my how Orwellian the times we are living.

bevin
Reader
bevin

” If he were around today would he not be accused of being a socialist?”
He was accused of just that. And his brother, Milton, according to the John Birch Society was a Communist and a Soviet agent. Hillary Clinton was brought up as a Bircher.

falcemartello
Reader

Who the Goldwater girl.
Please how many more mockingbird BS. Die you have any Idea of Ikes infamous post WW2 concentration camps of the defeated German Riech. Further more was an extension of the Truman foreign policy and a known shill for the whole anglo -Zionist establishment. Yeah and I have an afro.
Tolstoi” History would be a wonderful thing only if it were true”

Dave Hansell
Reader
Dave Hansell

“Other pertinent questions that are never debated are the whole function of artificial intelligence and how it will replace the labour force.”

Quite.

The problem for the fuedal 1% has always been their reliance on the 99% for their needs. Substitution by AI solves that “problem” and makes the 99% surplus to requirements. The only remaining problem is to find ways and means of disposing of the “surplus” population. One, of no doubt numerous options, would be to progressively get them to fight amongst themselves to minimise the opposition to the oxygen breathers.

Some Random Passer-by
Reader
Some Random Passer-by

Wish I’d bookmarked it now, but I stumbled across a piece of fiction that sums it up well.

Essentially, the robots will keep us in a prison where we will be managed into decline. Kept penned up (for our own safety) until we disappear (no breeding allowed/possible)

Conspiracy theorists would look towards Agenda 21

mark
Reader
mark

The Davos/ Bilderberg elites actually have a project to reduce the world population to 500 million. 7 billion are now “surplus to requirements.” This could be achieved through GM, declining sperm counts, and similar means rather than physically liquidating people. This 500 million would be ample to provide the 0.1% with servants, personal trainers, personal hairdressers, personal rabbis, and sex slaves. At a recent conference in London, they were discussing whether personal bodyguards could be replaced with robots to ensure their loyalty when money becomes worthless.

jdseanjd
Reader

http://www.c3headlines.com
Click on Quotes.

Genius journalist Jim Marrs’ book: Population Control.

UN Agenda 21′ depopulation aims are real.

John Doran.

John
Reader
John

Imagine what world we could have had if only 95% of every country on the planet hadn’t strangled the USSR and blockaded and sanctioned the country for some 70+ years and if they hadn’t had western “interventions” that most people don’t know about. When you tell people that most of Europe attacked Russia (albeit with very small armies and with the use of proxy’s) in 1918 and it lasted for years they have no idea that this even happened

rtj1211
Reader
rtj1211

The real questions arise about whether human priorities are entirely economic.

If you plot curves of marginal utility of greater wealth, the question arises as to the marginal gains in life quality achieved through earning more.

Whilst everyone is different, the majority favour more quality time with friends and family once home, education, transportation and investment for the future are adequately covered off. Their lives are not dominated by having a bigger house than the neighbours, a faster car, a more expensive holiday. They focus on making their own home perfect, finding cars to best suit their own needs (a BMW is more than adequate, a Rolls Royce unnecessary) and where they go on holiday and what the do is more important than ‘being seen’.

The reductio ad absurdum to ‘Free Trade’ is a tiny cartel of ridiculous wealth ruling over billions of serfs. All industries consolidate globally and no incentive to innovate remains.

Immature masculine concepts of conquering are behind most globalisation myths. Focussing less on the conquerors and more on the conquered tells you that conquering is a win-lose zero sum game consolidaing riches into smaller communities.

Looking at European football currently, you can see the irrevocable loss of diversity as a few handfuls of billionaire narcissists seek to destroy 90%+ of the ecosystem to create a closed cartel of circus acts. US closed shop nationalism is absolutely to the fore: Americans have zero tradition in ‘soccer’, less expertise than Europeans and merely have greater anti-competitive self-interest. If it were up to them, the European powerhouses will be reduced to feeders to MLS clubs by 2050…..

mark
Reader
mark

The economic system that has been foisted upon us is nothing remotely resembling free market capitalism.
Call it parasitic finance capitalism. Call it a looting kleptocracy. Call it fascism if you like, according to Mussolini’s definition of the merger of corporate and state power. Call it fried chicken if you want. But it is nothing even remotely resembling free market capitalism.

All financial markets, equity, bond, commodities, oil, precious metals, foreign exchange, interest rates, are shamelessly rigged in their own interests by a tiny, parasitic, unproductive, rent seeking elite that contributes nothing to the economy or society.

All price mechanisms theoretically ensuring the optimum allocation of capital, labour and resources have been deliberately disabled, with scarce resources being diverted to unproductive speculation and asset bubbles, rather than worthwhile investment. Our current system combines all the failings of a Soviet command economy without the possible benefits of greater social provision and income equality.

During the first part of the 19th century, America was a backwater whose main products were furs, cotton and timber. If the US had adopted free trade, those would still be its main exports. But America, like the Asian tigers, industrialised behind protective tariffs.

The depopulation and deindustrialisation of Eastern European countries through neoliberal policies is actually somewhat understated. In 1991, Ukraine had a population of 52 million and was the most prosperous and developed part of the old Soviet Union. It had a well educated and highly qualified workforce. Coal, steel, metallurgy, vehicles, locomotives, aircraft, chemicals, shipbuilding, engineering, missiles, armaments, space vehicles, tractors and farm equipment. By 2010, all this was ancient history. The production of tractors, for example, fell by 95%, electricity generation by a third. There was a contraction of 60% in the economy. Mass unemployment, poverty, destitution, corruption, drugs, alcohol, and a plummeting life expectancy with millions dying prematurely, from a collapse of the health service. All power and wealth was in the hands of a few Jewish oligarchs like Kolomoisky, who had hollowed out the economy through non stoop looting.

By 2012, the population had fallen from 52 to 38 million, with a further 7.5 million working abroad, scratching a living picking cabbages in Poland, or working as the ubiquitous “Natasha” prostitutes, the only thing Ukraine produces the EU wants.

At this time the income per head was $2,800. This was actually less than Egypt ($3,000), and slightly ahead of Syria ($2,400.)

Since then we have seen the Fascist Coup Regime seize power, one of a series of NED colour revolutions, and the disastrous ensuing war.

With the loss of Crimea and the Donbas, and 1-1.5 million refugees to Russia, the population in the territory now controlled by the Kiev Regime is probably around 30 million, little more than half the level at independence.
Ukraine is now a CIA playground and a happy hunting ground for foreign corporate interests. The only future Ukraine has lies in foreign owned agribusiness (Monsanto) and extractive industries (Joe Biden’s son), if they are lucky some sweatshop style manufacturing, and as a pool of cheap unskilled labour and prostitutes for the EU.

They seem to have believed the streets of the EU were paved with gold. Maybe they should have asked the Greeks about that.

The situation is probably not quite so dire in the Baltic States, though it is bad enough. At independence, they had viable industries that have now disappeared. Engineering, shipbuilding, motorcycles. Agriculture. Now there is nothing left. Everybody who can has left, though the US dual nationals parachuted in by Washington to rule those countries on its behalf have convinced themselves that Putin may invade at any moment to seize the coveted Latvian peat bogs or the Estonian lap dancing bars. With ports like Riga, the Baltics could have made a fortune as a transport hub for Russia, or as a gas transit route. But given the rabid hostility of Washington’s local satraps, Russia has developed its own port facilities instead, and by passed them with Nordstream. Sometimes agreeing to be Uncle Sam’s poodle comes with a high price tag. Sad.

Makropulos
Reader
Makropulos

Has there ever been “free market capitalism”? Or is this concept precisely what Samir Amin meant by imaginary capitalism as opposed to what actually existing capitalism does? All free markets – assuming that there actually were any – have to be regulated. Who makes the regulations? More to the point, how are the regulations affected by the ones who do well? Do they not always try to re-jig everything to their own advantage? Is there not always a tendency towards monopoly?

Johny Conspiranoid
Reader
Johny Conspiranoid

The idea of the free market requires the state to be the referee between economic actors, including labour. In practice the state is always captured by some of the actors at the expense of others.

wardropper
Reader
wardropper

Indeed so. That’s the problem right there.
Now, how do we fix it?

mark
Reader
mark

You’re quite right of course, M. Genuine free market capitalism and perfect competition only exist in economics text books. But the crony capitalism and monopoly capitalism that we have today are not the result of any immutable divine law. Banks can be regulated to control their criminality and abuses, as they previously were. Tough anti trust laws can punish the worst abuses. Probably not with existing political structures. But the situation has been a lot better in the recent past before the globalist neoliberal takeover.

bevin
Reader
bevin

AS RH Tawney explained to the Fabian Society sometime around 1950: “You cannot tame a tiger claw by claw.”
And that is what regulating capitalism is like. It is in the nature of the capitalist system to shake off regulation like a dog jumping out of a pond.
Globalisation is basically a flight from regulation which has, predictably and as predicted, blown back on the metropolis where regulations are removed to bring it into line with the peripheries, which then respond by even more extreme de-regulation, wage cuts etc.
Banks can be regulated but they never stop fighting against regulation. And the problem is that the cost to society is no longer sustainable, having escalated from famine and poverty to ecocide.

Frankly Speaking
Reader
Frankly Speaking

So what is the answer? Communism as practiced by the Soviet system was a disaster too. It had its own 1% elite, the Politburo. Power corrupts.

BigB
Reader
BigB

An emergent system that deals with the reality of the situation as it is now …i.e. not totally rejecting, but not trying to perpetuate historic systems. To do that, we have to think outside the box, particularly the restrictive left/right paradigm. The failures of the collectivisation of either left or right have legitimated a vicious individualistic centrism (neoliberalism) …which is the worst of all compromises. Succinctly, we have to move forward with a new emergent paradigm: one which embraces change and egality (nonduality). The three major ecologies – mind (psychology); socio-economy; environment – have to be integrated into one dynamic systems theory (DST) that inter-relates all aspects of human life into sustainable, ecological living. After all, that is what science has shown us life (living systems) are like over the past century. Politics is still based on Enlightenment principles (that have Greco-Christian roots). In other words: a separationism that is backdated and centuries out of date.

In other words, its emergent ecosocialism or neoliberal barbarism.

mark
Reader
mark

The answer is certainly not our crapitalism, crony capitalism.
The old Yugoslavia was an interesting alternative. You could run a business and employ up to 25 people. Anything bigger than that was a state enterprise. People were free to travel and work abroad as they wished, and millions did.
There are other alternatives. There was far more of an ethos of involvement by trade unions in the EU up to the 1980s, when globalism and neoliberalism took off. Now the EU is just a billionaire’s club, which goes a long way to explaining its unpopularity.
There was a greater degree of state control in Britain in the 1950s -70s, a legacy of wartime planning. Capitalism is useless when you need to mobilise an economy to fight a war.
Prior to 1980, there were some real measures in place to control the criminality of the banks and monopoly capitalism.

crank
Reader
crank

There are no markets without states, nor have there ever been. The two were co-created and are interdependent.

Antonym
Reader
Antonym

Another reason to support positive nationalism all around over anonymous globalism: the only way to tame the wire transfer beasts.

falcemartello
Reader

We live in a corporatocracy the fusion of state and high finance Fascismo alla post modern. Just think of it all soi called European lefties are callingnfor Maduro to call an election. How many elections do the PSVD have to win to be declared legitimate . In the old days buon anima Berlinguer the leader of the Italian Communist party was the first to denounce what happened to Allende in Chile further more him and Togliati were the first to recognise the Cuban government of Castro and Guevara.

Fair dinkum
Reader
Fair dinkum

Economic theories never seem to factor in the insidious addiction of greed.
It is a dis-ease of the spiritually/Love bereft.
One cannot fill a spiritual void with ‘things’. And that includes religion.
The treadmill of greed is a perpetual motion machine.
Only a few jump off.

balkydj
Reader

An ominously succinct wholly ‘moly’ Truth 🙂

A Fair & dinky observation, great comment Fair dinkum . . .

Sit or stand back & watch the greedy rushing & endeavouring to enjoy all their wealth & assets , simultaneously , but never finding the time for anything other than a false smile 🙂

and as you tire of laughing at their Red-Faced Hamster like expressions of bewilderment, on their treadmill, Balky recommends a small measure of fine homemade red wine to imbibe @Leisure, in the security of ‘Knowledge’ 🙂 including the knowledge that that treadmill’s bearings are worn out , the compass magnetically disturbed & the ship is sinking slowly but surely . . . 100% G’teed, m8 😉

Balky can’t help but recall the ole’ Paddle Steamers of the Severn Estuary, purveying from ‘Pier to Peer’ , on fine weather days even majestically: along with their destiny , as the Vulcan Bombers tested Concorde’s Rolls Royce engines, crackling & booming & looming above, from Filton out to sea & seeing the future unfold , precisely as grandfather predicted in Portishead :-

Balky’s B’Amp’s pre-WW2 electronic radar & radio-wave designs & prognosis for ‘5 Eyes’ , as always, still spot on …

like Fair dinkum’s assessment of ‘Greed’

https://consortiumnews.com/2019/01/18/exclusive-they-spy-with-their-little-eye/

Balky book title dissing Greedy Sundays >>>

“As Hamsters tire …
Gilded Eagles observe” 😉

Happy Monday, FD , keep’on twisting my melons man, lol , above & beyond …

Real love rests in all eternity, as pure Energy & physical force, which transcends

Hamsters 🙂

“I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let Them lead the way …”

Education the Key to collective destiny 😉
Greetings from BG.