Politics, Power and Resistance Week 4: Neoliberalism

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As David Harvey (2006) explains, ‘the theory of neoliberalism... takes the view that individual liberty and freedom are the high point of civilization and then goes on to argue that individual liberty and freedom can best be protected and achieved by an institutional structure, made up of strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade: a world in which individual initiative can flourish. The implication of that is that the state should not be involved in the economy too much, but it should use its power to preserve private property rights and the institutions of the market and promote those on the global stage if necessary.’ In practice, however, as Wendy Brown (2006) describes, neoliberalism occupies the ‘shell of liberalism’. In other words it promotes freedom in name only. Neoliberals oppose state intervention unless it is to protect the freedom of the markets. Therefore, the Welfare State has come under extensive attack in neoliberal societies since the 1970s, while the punitive role of the state has grown. The result is greater inequality for the majority of people. Nevertheless, the emphasis placed on ‘personal responsibility’ in neoliberal discourse is attractive for those who believe that societies fare better when individuals are allowed to work more and pay less taxes. This view does not take into account the persistence of inequalities in terms of class, gender, race, sexuality, and disability in shaping individuals’ ability to participate equally in the market.

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Politics, Power and Resistance Week 4: Neoliberalism

  1. 1. Politics, Power & Resistance Week 4: Neoliberalism, politics & the state A/Prof Alana Lentin a.lentin@uws.edu.au Tuesday, 18 March 14
  2. 2. Overview What is neoliberalism? Ideological apparatus Neoliberalism & the state Political effects The politics of disposability Tuesday, 18 March 14
  3. 3. What is Neoliberalism? “Neoliberalism is a theory of political economic practices proposing that human well-being can best be advanced by the maximization of entrepreneurial freedoms within an institutional framework characterized by private property rights, individual liberty, unencumbered markets, and free trade.” David Harvey (2007) Tuesday, 18 March 14 According to David Harvey, neoliberalism can be characterised as a process of ‘creative destruction’. In other words, it is not just an economic system, or a set of policies, but an ideological apparatus that uses creative means to ensure its own dominance. One of the most striking aspects of neoliberalism, written about by scholars such as Harvey and Wendy Brown, is that it finds support among people who paradoxically seem to lose out as a result of neoliberal policies. For Harvey, despite the fact that neoliberalism has actually had a poor record of stimulating economic growth (see article for figures), it has nonetheless remained hegemonic even during these times of financial crisis. He argues that neoliberalism can be cast as a process of ‘creative destruction’ because, despite this fact, neoliberal policies have been hugely successful from the point of view of the upper classes. It has succeeded in restoring power to ruling elites, both in countries which adopted western free trade models more recently, like Russia or China, or in the UK and the US. For example, the ratio of the average earnings of workers to CEOs in the US increased from 30:1 in 1970 to more than 400:1 in 2000. So, we should understand neoliberalism not just as a set of economic principles and practices but as an ideological framework that has become hegemonic, having inroads in most if not all states across the world, some to a greater extent than others. Moreover, the governance of global economics through institutions such as the WTO and the IMF is organised along neoliberal principles, having an significant impact on the economies of most of the world’s (poorer) populations. What are the main features of neoliberalism?
  4. 4. Accumulation by dispossession ‘...a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or... a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005) Tuesday, 18 March 14 David Harvey claims that ‘we can…interpret neoliberalization either as a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites.’ He claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ Harvey’s argument is therefore based on the proposition that, despite the fact that neoliberal economics did not reap the financial benefits for societies at large that its proponents said it would, neoliberalism becomes dominant because it serves the interests of the ruling classes. He claims that the main aims of neoliberalisation have not been to generate greater wealth for everyone but to redistribute existing wealth from the poor to the rich. He calls this process ‘accumulation by dispossession’. In other words, policies are put in place to privatise land, property (including intellectual property), commodities (such as water, gas and electricity), suppress rights, restrict free labour, etc. in the interests of shifting wealth from the common to the particular, from the majority to the minority. According to Harvey, the rich acquire more wealth by dispossessing the poor. An example might be the dismantling of slums resulting in homelessness for the tens of thousands of people living in each of them so that the land may be used to build shopping malls and homes for the wealthy in Indian cities such as Mumbai. As we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution. Harvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. 1. Privatization: As we have already seen in Week 3, privatization has a direct effect on the lives of a great many people in terms of their ability to access services that were once considered common goods. The aim of privatization has been to open up new avenues of capital accumulation in areas which were once out of bounds for free marketeers. Today we take for granted, in countries like Australia, that there are private companies which control gas, electricity, water, run the trains and even the prisons (as we saw last week). However, for this to happen there had to be a transfer of ownership from the state to the private companies. Similar privatisations have happened across the world, with the example of Cochabamba being an extreme example of how the state has often used repressive measures to wrestle ownership of the commons from the
  5. 5. Accumulation by dispossession Privatization ‘...a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or... a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005) Tuesday, 18 March 14 David Harvey claims that ‘we can…interpret neoliberalization either as a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites.’ He claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ Harvey’s argument is therefore based on the proposition that, despite the fact that neoliberal economics did not reap the financial benefits for societies at large that its proponents said it would, neoliberalism becomes dominant because it serves the interests of the ruling classes. He claims that the main aims of neoliberalisation have not been to generate greater wealth for everyone but to redistribute existing wealth from the poor to the rich. He calls this process ‘accumulation by dispossession’. In other words, policies are put in place to privatise land, property (including intellectual property), commodities (such as water, gas and electricity), suppress rights, restrict free labour, etc. in the interests of shifting wealth from the common to the particular, from the majority to the minority. According to Harvey, the rich acquire more wealth by dispossessing the poor. An example might be the dismantling of slums resulting in homelessness for the tens of thousands of people living in each of them so that the land may be used to build shopping malls and homes for the wealthy in Indian cities such as Mumbai. As we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution. Harvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. 1. Privatization: As we have already seen in Week 3, privatization has a direct effect on the lives of a great many people in terms of their ability to access services that were once considered common goods. The aim of privatization has been to open up new avenues of capital accumulation in areas which were once out of bounds for free marketeers. Today we take for granted, in countries like Australia, that there are private companies which control gas, electricity, water, run the trains and even the prisons (as we saw last week). However, for this to happen there had to be a transfer of ownership from the state to the private companies. Similar privatisations have happened across the world, with the example of Cochabamba being an extreme example of how the state has often used repressive measures to wrestle ownership of the commons from the
  6. 6. Accumulation by dispossession Privatization ‘...a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or... a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005) Tuesday, 18 March 14 David Harvey claims that ‘we can…interpret neoliberalization either as a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites.’ He claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ Harvey’s argument is therefore based on the proposition that, despite the fact that neoliberal economics did not reap the financial benefits for societies at large that its proponents said it would, neoliberalism becomes dominant because it serves the interests of the ruling classes. He claims that the main aims of neoliberalisation have not been to generate greater wealth for everyone but to redistribute existing wealth from the poor to the rich. He calls this process ‘accumulation by dispossession’. In other words, policies are put in place to privatise land, property (including intellectual property), commodities (such as water, gas and electricity), suppress rights, restrict free labour, etc. in the interests of shifting wealth from the common to the particular, from the majority to the minority. According to Harvey, the rich acquire more wealth by dispossessing the poor. An example might be the dismantling of slums resulting in homelessness for the tens of thousands of people living in each of them so that the land may be used to build shopping malls and homes for the wealthy in Indian cities such as Mumbai. As we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution. Harvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. 1. Privatization: As we have already seen in Week 3, privatization has a direct effect on the lives of a great many people in terms of their ability to access services that were once considered common goods. The aim of privatization has been to open up new avenues of capital accumulation in areas which were once out of bounds for free marketeers. Today we take for granted, in countries like Australia, that there are private companies which control gas, electricity, water, run the trains and even the prisons (as we saw last week). However, for this to happen there had to be a transfer of ownership from the state to the private companies. Similar privatisations have happened across the world, with the example of Cochabamba being an extreme example of how the state has often used repressive measures to wrestle ownership of the commons from the
  7. 7. Accumulation by dispossession Privatization Financialization ‘...a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or... a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005) Tuesday, 18 March 14 David Harvey claims that ‘we can…interpret neoliberalization either as a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites.’ He claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ Harvey’s argument is therefore based on the proposition that, despite the fact that neoliberal economics did not reap the financial benefits for societies at large that its proponents said it would, neoliberalism becomes dominant because it serves the interests of the ruling classes. He claims that the main aims of neoliberalisation have not been to generate greater wealth for everyone but to redistribute existing wealth from the poor to the rich. He calls this process ‘accumulation by dispossession’. In other words, policies are put in place to privatise land, property (including intellectual property), commodities (such as water, gas and electricity), suppress rights, restrict free labour, etc. in the interests of shifting wealth from the common to the particular, from the majority to the minority. According to Harvey, the rich acquire more wealth by dispossessing the poor. An example might be the dismantling of slums resulting in homelessness for the tens of thousands of people living in each of them so that the land may be used to build shopping malls and homes for the wealthy in Indian cities such as Mumbai. As we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution. Harvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. 1. Privatization: As we have already seen in Week 3, privatization has a direct effect on the lives of a great many people in terms of their ability to access services that were once considered common goods. The aim of privatization has been to open up new avenues of capital accumulation in areas which were once out of bounds for free marketeers. Today we take for granted, in countries like Australia, that there are private companies which control gas, electricity, water, run the trains and even the prisons (as we saw last week). However, for this to happen there had to be a transfer of ownership from the state to the private companies. Similar privatisations have happened across the world, with the example of Cochabamba being an extreme example of how the state has often used repressive measures to wrestle ownership of the commons from the
  8. 8. Accumulation by dispossession Privatization Financialization Crisis management ‘...a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or... a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005) Tuesday, 18 March 14 David Harvey claims that ‘we can…interpret neoliberalization either as a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites.’ He claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ Harvey’s argument is therefore based on the proposition that, despite the fact that neoliberal economics did not reap the financial benefits for societies at large that its proponents said it would, neoliberalism becomes dominant because it serves the interests of the ruling classes. He claims that the main aims of neoliberalisation have not been to generate greater wealth for everyone but to redistribute existing wealth from the poor to the rich. He calls this process ‘accumulation by dispossession’. In other words, policies are put in place to privatise land, property (including intellectual property), commodities (such as water, gas and electricity), suppress rights, restrict free labour, etc. in the interests of shifting wealth from the common to the particular, from the majority to the minority. According to Harvey, the rich acquire more wealth by dispossessing the poor. An example might be the dismantling of slums resulting in homelessness for the tens of thousands of people living in each of them so that the land may be used to build shopping malls and homes for the wealthy in Indian cities such as Mumbai. As we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution. Harvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. 1. Privatization: As we have already seen in Week 3, privatization has a direct effect on the lives of a great many people in terms of their ability to access services that were once considered common goods. The aim of privatization has been to open up new avenues of capital accumulation in areas which were once out of bounds for free marketeers. Today we take for granted, in countries like Australia, that there are private companies which control gas, electricity, water, run the trains and even the prisons (as we saw last week). However, for this to happen there had to be a transfer of ownership from the state to the private companies. Similar privatisations have happened across the world, with the example of Cochabamba being an extreme example of how the state has often used repressive measures to wrestle ownership of the commons from the
  9. 9. Accumulation by dispossession Privatization Financialization Crisis management State redistributions ‘...a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or... a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005) Tuesday, 18 March 14 David Harvey claims that ‘we can…interpret neoliberalization either as a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of international capitalism or as a political project to re-establish the conditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites.’ He claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ Harvey’s argument is therefore based on the proposition that, despite the fact that neoliberal economics did not reap the financial benefits for societies at large that its proponents said it would, neoliberalism becomes dominant because it serves the interests of the ruling classes. He claims that the main aims of neoliberalisation have not been to generate greater wealth for everyone but to redistribute existing wealth from the poor to the rich. He calls this process ‘accumulation by dispossession’. In other words, policies are put in place to privatise land, property (including intellectual property), commodities (such as water, gas and electricity), suppress rights, restrict free labour, etc. in the interests of shifting wealth from the common to the particular, from the majority to the minority. According to Harvey, the rich acquire more wealth by dispossessing the poor. An example might be the dismantling of slums resulting in homelessness for the tens of thousands of people living in each of them so that the land may be used to build shopping malls and homes for the wealthy in Indian cities such as Mumbai. As we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution. Harvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. 1. Privatization: As we have already seen in Week 3, privatization has a direct effect on the lives of a great many people in terms of their ability to access services that were once considered common goods. The aim of privatization has been to open up new avenues of capital accumulation in areas which were once out of bounds for free marketeers. Today we take for granted, in countries like Australia, that there are private companies which control gas, electricity, water, run the trains and even the prisons (as we saw last week). However, for this to happen there had to be a transfer of ownership from the state to the private companies. Similar privatisations have happened across the world, with the example of Cochabamba being an extreme example of how the state has often used repressive measures to wrestle ownership of the commons from the
  10. 10. Neoliberalism & the State Tuesday, 18 March 14 According to Wendy Brown, the political rationality of neoliberalism can be understood according to three main characteristics. 1. Brown explains that it is important not to confuse neoliberalism with political liberalism. Neoliberalism refers to economic liberalism but it is not the same as classical economic liberalism. Classical economic liberalism saw the market as natural and self-regulating and thus in need of no intervention from the state. In contrast, what is new about neoliberalism is that it does not see markets as natural or self- regulating. In fact, it sees free trade and entrepreneurship as things that have to be brought into being through law and through policy. So the role of the state becomes one of ensuring that everything is done to so that markets and trade can be free of state intervention. As John Gray points out in The New Statesman (2010), the paradox of neoliberalism is that “neoliberals wanted to limit government, but the upshot of their policies has been a huge expansion in the power of the state.” 2. Secondly, not only should the state be set up to facilitate the market, but the state should think and act like a player in the market. One of the main ways in which this is done is to develop policies which cast citizens as consumers and entrepreneurs. So, we are no longer beneficiaries of services that we have paid for through taxation, but consumers of that service. Consequently, we only have a right to be consumers if we have ‘paid our own way’, or gained the right to use the service by showing ourselves to be autonomous and entrepreneurial individuals who can operate largely freely of the state or the rest of society. Wendy Brown states that neoliberal states have brought in a host of policies designed to measure individual citizens in terms of their ability for ‘self-care’. An individual who is able to provide for his/her own needs (medical, welfare recipients, students, etc.) is seen as a good citizen; while those who cannot demonstrate self- care are seen as what Zygmunt Bauman (2011) calls “rejects of order and the refuse of modernization.” This logic can be seen very clearly in relation to the current reforms of higher education in the UK. Students are forced to pay higher fees and encouraged to think of themselves as paying customers. However, it is still the state that largely dictates how higher education is run. Therefore, it could be argued that the idea that the state acts and thinks like a market conceals the fact that it is in fact only individuals who have to act as if they were actors in a free market; the state is not an equal player, but
  11. 11. Neoliberalism & the State Neoliberalism needs the state Tuesday, 18 March 14 According to Wendy Brown, the political rationality of neoliberalism can be understood according to three main characteristics. 1. Brown explains that it is important not to confuse neoliberalism with political liberalism. Neoliberalism refers to economic liberalism but it is not the same as classical economic liberalism. Classical economic liberalism saw the market as natural and self-regulating and thus in need of no intervention from the state. In contrast, what is new about neoliberalism is that it does not see markets as natural or self- regulating. In fact, it sees free trade and entrepreneurship as things that have to be brought into being through law and through policy. So the role of the state becomes one of ensuring that everything is done to so that markets and trade can be free of state intervention. As John Gray points out in The New Statesman (2010), the paradox of neoliberalism is that “neoliberals wanted to limit government, but the upshot of their policies has been a huge expansion in the power of the state.” 2. Secondly, not only should the state be set up to facilitate the market, but the state should think and act like a player in the market. One of the main ways in which this is done is to develop policies which cast citizens as consumers and entrepreneurs. So, we are no longer beneficiaries of services that we have paid for through taxation, but consumers of that service. Consequently, we only have a right to be consumers if we have ‘paid our own way’, or gained the right to use the service by showing ourselves to be autonomous and entrepreneurial individuals who can operate largely freely of the state or the rest of society. Wendy Brown states that neoliberal states have brought in a host of policies designed to measure individual citizens in terms of their ability for ‘self-care’. An individual who is able to provide for his/her own needs (medical, welfare recipients, students, etc.) is seen as a good citizen; while those who cannot demonstrate self- care are seen as what Zygmunt Bauman (2011) calls “rejects of order and the refuse of modernization.” This logic can be seen very clearly in relation to the current reforms of higher education in the UK. Students are forced to pay higher fees and encouraged to think of themselves as paying customers. However, it is still the state that largely dictates how higher education is run. Therefore, it could be argued that the idea that the state acts and thinks like a market conceals the fact that it is in fact only individuals who have to act as if they were actors in a free market; the state is not an equal player, but
  12. 12. Neoliberalism & the State Neoliberalism needs the state State and society constituted in market terms Tuesday, 18 March 14 According to Wendy Brown, the political rationality of neoliberalism can be understood according to three main characteristics. 1. Brown explains that it is important not to confuse neoliberalism with political liberalism. Neoliberalism refers to economic liberalism but it is not the same as classical economic liberalism. Classical economic liberalism saw the market as natural and self-regulating and thus in need of no intervention from the state. In contrast, what is new about neoliberalism is that it does not see markets as natural or self- regulating. In fact, it sees free trade and entrepreneurship as things that have to be brought into being through law and through policy. So the role of the state becomes one of ensuring that everything is done to so that markets and trade can be free of state intervention. As John Gray points out in The New Statesman (2010), the paradox of neoliberalism is that “neoliberals wanted to limit government, but the upshot of their policies has been a huge expansion in the power of the state.” 2. Secondly, not only should the state be set up to facilitate the market, but the state should think and act like a player in the market. One of the main ways in which this is done is to develop policies which cast citizens as consumers and entrepreneurs. So, we are no longer beneficiaries of services that we have paid for through taxation, but consumers of that service. Consequently, we only have a right to be consumers if we have ‘paid our own way’, or gained the right to use the service by showing ourselves to be autonomous and entrepreneurial individuals who can operate largely freely of the state or the rest of society. Wendy Brown states that neoliberal states have brought in a host of policies designed to measure individual citizens in terms of their ability for ‘self-care’. An individual who is able to provide for his/her own needs (medical, welfare recipients, students, etc.) is seen as a good citizen; while those who cannot demonstrate self- care are seen as what Zygmunt Bauman (2011) calls “rejects of order and the refuse of modernization.” This logic can be seen very clearly in relation to the current reforms of higher education in the UK. Students are forced to pay higher fees and encouraged to think of themselves as paying customers. However, it is still the state that largely dictates how higher education is run. Therefore, it could be argued that the idea that the state acts and thinks like a market conceals the fact that it is in fact only individuals who have to act as if they were actors in a free market; the state is not an equal player, but
  13. 13. Neoliberalism & the State Neoliberalism needs the state State and society constituted in market terms Productivity and profitability become criteria for governance Tuesday, 18 March 14 According to Wendy Brown, the political rationality of neoliberalism can be understood according to three main characteristics. 1. Brown explains that it is important not to confuse neoliberalism with political liberalism. Neoliberalism refers to economic liberalism but it is not the same as classical economic liberalism. Classical economic liberalism saw the market as natural and self-regulating and thus in need of no intervention from the state. In contrast, what is new about neoliberalism is that it does not see markets as natural or self- regulating. In fact, it sees free trade and entrepreneurship as things that have to be brought into being through law and through policy. So the role of the state becomes one of ensuring that everything is done to so that markets and trade can be free of state intervention. As John Gray points out in The New Statesman (2010), the paradox of neoliberalism is that “neoliberals wanted to limit government, but the upshot of their policies has been a huge expansion in the power of the state.” 2. Secondly, not only should the state be set up to facilitate the market, but the state should think and act like a player in the market. One of the main ways in which this is done is to develop policies which cast citizens as consumers and entrepreneurs. So, we are no longer beneficiaries of services that we have paid for through taxation, but consumers of that service. Consequently, we only have a right to be consumers if we have ‘paid our own way’, or gained the right to use the service by showing ourselves to be autonomous and entrepreneurial individuals who can operate largely freely of the state or the rest of society. Wendy Brown states that neoliberal states have brought in a host of policies designed to measure individual citizens in terms of their ability for ‘self-care’. An individual who is able to provide for his/her own needs (medical, welfare recipients, students, etc.) is seen as a good citizen; while those who cannot demonstrate self- care are seen as what Zygmunt Bauman (2011) calls “rejects of order and the refuse of modernization.” This logic can be seen very clearly in relation to the current reforms of higher education in the UK. Students are forced to pay higher fees and encouraged to think of themselves as paying customers. However, it is still the state that largely dictates how higher education is run. Therefore, it could be argued that the idea that the state acts and thinks like a market conceals the fact that it is in fact only individuals who have to act as if they were actors in a free market; the state is not an equal player, but
  14. 14. Political effects Tuesday, 18 March 14 Brown argues that the effect of the saturation of the state, political culture, and the social sphere with market rationality is to strip away any commitments to democracy within government. This has three main effects: 1. Egalitarianism becomes a thing of the past to be replaced by what neoliberals have called “the equal right to inequality”. This is exemplified in Margaret thatcher’s 1975 speech [show movie] The result of this is the creation of a permanent underclass, a permanent criminal class, and a permanent class of non-citizens (e.g. illegal migrants). It is accepted that such people will never be able to be integrated into the neoliberal state or society and that this is inevitable. Under neoliberalism, inequality becomes a permanent feature of society, with the state’s role no longer seen as having a duty to overturn this situation. 2. Because citizenship is reduced to self-care, there is no onus on individuals to actively participate in society. So, there is less and less of an idea of society as something common, as a public good. As Margaret Thatcher famously remarked, ‘there is no such thing as society’. UK example: Interestingly, current policy proposals such as the Coalition government’s ‘big society’ idea appears to deny this. However, according to Stuart Hall, the notion that the big society will empower individuals to take responsibility for their locality is an empty one if at the same time the structures of local democracy and the amenities (public libraries, schools, post offices, sure start centres, etc.) are being dismantled. When individuals have to spend most, if not all, their time working to ensure they can ‘self-care’ in an age of austerity, there is little hope, according to Hall, that ‘unpaid volunteers will “step up to the plate”’ to keep libraries, parks, sports facilities, youth clubs, etc. running. 3. As law becomes a tactic or an instrument rather than a set of principles, it can be more easily suspended or abrogated, according to Brown. She calls this the radical desacralization of the law. The Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, has theorised this in terms of what he calls the ‘state of exception’ - there are more and more instances when states can decide to suspend legal principles for a variety of reasons. Examples of this include the use of a variety of measures that violate individuals’ human rights in the interests of security (as seen in the wake of 9/11). Another example could be the Conservative party’s opposition to the Human Rights Act or the tactical use of civil rights law in the US to argue against egalitarian projects such as progressive taxation.
  15. 15. Political effects Equal right to inequality Tuesday, 18 March 14 Brown argues that the effect of the saturation of the state, political culture, and the social sphere with market rationality is to strip away any commitments to democracy within government. This has three main effects: 1. Egalitarianism becomes a thing of the past to be replaced by what neoliberals have called “the equal right to inequality”. This is exemplified in Margaret thatcher’s 1975 speech [show movie] The result of this is the creation of a permanent underclass, a permanent criminal class, and a permanent class of non-citizens (e.g. illegal migrants). It is accepted that such people will never be able to be integrated into the neoliberal state or society and that this is inevitable. Under neoliberalism, inequality becomes a permanent feature of society, with the state’s role no longer seen as having a duty to overturn this situation. 2. Because citizenship is reduced to self-care, there is no onus on individuals to actively participate in society. So, there is less and less of an idea of society as something common, as a public good. As Margaret Thatcher famously remarked, ‘there is no such thing as society’. UK example: Interestingly, current policy proposals such as the Coalition government’s ‘big society’ idea appears to deny this. However, according to Stuart Hall, the notion that the big society will empower individuals to take responsibility for their locality is an empty one if at the same time the structures of local democracy and the amenities (public libraries, schools, post offices, sure start centres, etc.) are being dismantled. When individuals have to spend most, if not all, their time working to ensure they can ‘self-care’ in an age of austerity, there is little hope, according to Hall, that ‘unpaid volunteers will “step up to the plate”’ to keep libraries, parks, sports facilities, youth clubs, etc. running. 3. As law becomes a tactic or an instrument rather than a set of principles, it can be more easily suspended or abrogated, according to Brown. She calls this the radical desacralization of the law. The Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, has theorised this in terms of what he calls the ‘state of exception’ - there are more and more instances when states can decide to suspend legal principles for a variety of reasons. Examples of this include the use of a variety of measures that violate individuals’ human rights in the interests of security (as seen in the wake of 9/11). Another example could be the Conservative party’s opposition to the Human Rights Act or the tactical use of civil rights law in the US to argue against egalitarian projects such as progressive taxation.
  16. 16. Political effects Equal right to inequality Tuesday, 18 March 14 Brown argues that the effect of the saturation of the state, political culture, and the social sphere with market rationality is to strip away any commitments to democracy within government. This has three main effects: 1. Egalitarianism becomes a thing of the past to be replaced by what neoliberals have called “the equal right to inequality”. This is exemplified in Margaret thatcher’s 1975 speech [show movie] The result of this is the creation of a permanent underclass, a permanent criminal class, and a permanent class of non-citizens (e.g. illegal migrants). It is accepted that such people will never be able to be integrated into the neoliberal state or society and that this is inevitable. Under neoliberalism, inequality becomes a permanent feature of society, with the state’s role no longer seen as having a duty to overturn this situation. 2. Because citizenship is reduced to self-care, there is no onus on individuals to actively participate in society. So, there is less and less of an idea of society as something common, as a public good. As Margaret Thatcher famously remarked, ‘there is no such thing as society’. UK example: Interestingly, current policy proposals such as the Coalition government’s ‘big society’ idea appears to deny this. However, according to Stuart Hall, the notion that the big society will empower individuals to take responsibility for their locality is an empty one if at the same time the structures of local democracy and the amenities (public libraries, schools, post offices, sure start centres, etc.) are being dismantled. When individuals have to spend most, if not all, their time working to ensure they can ‘self-care’ in an age of austerity, there is little hope, according to Hall, that ‘unpaid volunteers will “step up to the plate”’ to keep libraries, parks, sports facilities, youth clubs, etc. running. 3. As law becomes a tactic or an instrument rather than a set of principles, it can be more easily suspended or abrogated, according to Brown. She calls this the radical desacralization of the law. The Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, has theorised this in terms of what he calls the ‘state of exception’ - there are more and more instances when states can decide to suspend legal principles for a variety of reasons. Examples of this include the use of a variety of measures that violate individuals’ human rights in the interests of security (as seen in the wake of 9/11). Another example could be the Conservative party’s opposition to the Human Rights Act or the tactical use of civil rights law in the US to argue against egalitarian projects such as progressive taxation.
  17. 17. Political effects Equal right to inequality No active citizenry Tuesday, 18 March 14 Brown argues that the effect of the saturation of the state, political culture, and the social sphere with market rationality is to strip away any commitments to democracy within government. This has three main effects: 1. Egalitarianism becomes a thing of the past to be replaced by what neoliberals have called “the equal right to inequality”. This is exemplified in Margaret thatcher’s 1975 speech [show movie] The result of this is the creation of a permanent underclass, a permanent criminal class, and a permanent class of non-citizens (e.g. illegal migrants). It is accepted that such people will never be able to be integrated into the neoliberal state or society and that this is inevitable. Under neoliberalism, inequality becomes a permanent feature of society, with the state’s role no longer seen as having a duty to overturn this situation. 2. Because citizenship is reduced to self-care, there is no onus on individuals to actively participate in society. So, there is less and less of an idea of society as something common, as a public good. As Margaret Thatcher famously remarked, ‘there is no such thing as society’. UK example: Interestingly, current policy proposals such as the Coalition government’s ‘big society’ idea appears to deny this. However, according to Stuart Hall, the notion that the big society will empower individuals to take responsibility for their locality is an empty one if at the same time the structures of local democracy and the amenities (public libraries, schools, post offices, sure start centres, etc.) are being dismantled. When individuals have to spend most, if not all, their time working to ensure they can ‘self-care’ in an age of austerity, there is little hope, according to Hall, that ‘unpaid volunteers will “step up to the plate”’ to keep libraries, parks, sports facilities, youth clubs, etc. running. 3. As law becomes a tactic or an instrument rather than a set of principles, it can be more easily suspended or abrogated, according to Brown. She calls this the radical desacralization of the law. The Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, has theorised this in terms of what he calls the ‘state of exception’ - there are more and more instances when states can decide to suspend legal principles for a variety of reasons. Examples of this include the use of a variety of measures that violate individuals’ human rights in the interests of security (as seen in the wake of 9/11). Another example could be the Conservative party’s opposition to the Human Rights Act or the tactical use of civil rights law in the US to argue against egalitarian projects such as progressive taxation.
  18. 18. Political effects Equal right to inequality No active citizenry Law is “radically desacralized” Tuesday, 18 March 14 Brown argues that the effect of the saturation of the state, political culture, and the social sphere with market rationality is to strip away any commitments to democracy within government. This has three main effects: 1. Egalitarianism becomes a thing of the past to be replaced by what neoliberals have called “the equal right to inequality”. This is exemplified in Margaret thatcher’s 1975 speech [show movie] The result of this is the creation of a permanent underclass, a permanent criminal class, and a permanent class of non-citizens (e.g. illegal migrants). It is accepted that such people will never be able to be integrated into the neoliberal state or society and that this is inevitable. Under neoliberalism, inequality becomes a permanent feature of society, with the state’s role no longer seen as having a duty to overturn this situation. 2. Because citizenship is reduced to self-care, there is no onus on individuals to actively participate in society. So, there is less and less of an idea of society as something common, as a public good. As Margaret Thatcher famously remarked, ‘there is no such thing as society’. UK example: Interestingly, current policy proposals such as the Coalition government’s ‘big society’ idea appears to deny this. However, according to Stuart Hall, the notion that the big society will empower individuals to take responsibility for their locality is an empty one if at the same time the structures of local democracy and the amenities (public libraries, schools, post offices, sure start centres, etc.) are being dismantled. When individuals have to spend most, if not all, their time working to ensure they can ‘self-care’ in an age of austerity, there is little hope, according to Hall, that ‘unpaid volunteers will “step up to the plate”’ to keep libraries, parks, sports facilities, youth clubs, etc. running. 3. As law becomes a tactic or an instrument rather than a set of principles, it can be more easily suspended or abrogated, according to Brown. She calls this the radical desacralization of the law. The Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben, has theorised this in terms of what he calls the ‘state of exception’ - there are more and more instances when states can decide to suspend legal principles for a variety of reasons. Examples of this include the use of a variety of measures that violate individuals’ human rights in the interests of security (as seen in the wake of 9/11). Another example could be the Conservative party’s opposition to the Human Rights Act or the tactical use of civil rights law in the US to argue against egalitarian projects such as progressive taxation.
  19. 19. Ideological Apparatus Neoliberalism occupies the shell of liberalism, using the rhetorics of liberal democracy while turning liberalism “in the direction of liberality rather than liberty.” Wendy Brown (2005) Tuesday, 18 March 14 We have looked at the main economic measures taken in the name of neoliberalism, according to David Harvey and examined how the neoliberal state becomes aligned to the market, by looking at authors such as Wendy Brown and Stuart Hall. But if, as these authors argue, the effects on ordinary people are so detrimental, how was all of this achieved without a massive mobilization of popular dissent? How does neoliberal thinking become internalised by so many ordinary people, even those who stand to lose as a result of its policies? How, to use Gramscian language, does neoliberalism become hegemonic commonsense? Liberty: One of the main ways in which this is achieved is that neoliberal theorists and politicans use the language of liberty to back up their project. As Wendy Brown explains, neoliberals made use of the confusion between classical political liberalism - which preaches the importance of personal freedom without repressive intervention by the state - and economic neoliberalism which, as we have seen, requires a strong state in order to function. Neoliberal thinkers, such as Milton Friedman (who influenced the politics of Thatcher and Reagan), claimed that individual freedom means the right to work hard to provide for one’s family without being encumbered by a higher power such as the state which would intervene to take one’s wealth away. So for example, if taxation is used to pay for welfare, this is portrayed as an assault on liberty because the freedom of the hard working individual to use his/her money as s/he sees fit is being attacked by a state which rewards other people who cannot be bothered to work. We can see how this way of thinking would be attractive to many ordinary working people. However, what this masks is that it is not that taxation is reduced under neoliberalism but that it is redirected away from public goods towards other areas, most notably defence. This is in turn justified by the argument that a strong military is necessary to ensure that ‘our’ freedoms are maintained. This rhetoric is particularly strong in the US where these politics are most developed. As Harvey notes, the constant appeal to the protection of ‘our freedoms and our way of life’ as a justification for the US-led wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan was necessary. When it was revealed that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction, the emphasis turned from security for the US and its allies to freedom for Iraq. Autonomy and Choice:
  20. 20. The Politics of Disposability “The likelihood of becoming a ‘collateral victim’ of any human undertaking... and of any ‘natural’ catastrophe, however class- blind, is currently one of the most salient and striking dimensions of social inequality.” Zygmunt Bauman (2011) Tuesday, 18 March 14 Zygmunt Bauman writes about the social effects of neoliberalism in terms of collateral damage - a phrase used to describe the loss of life as a consequence of what is deemed militarily to be a higher purpose. We will take a closer look at some of the policies that create social disadvantage and marginalisation when we look at the theme of citizenship and inequality. For our purposes this week, the collision of natural and manmade disasters in the case of the 2005 Hurricane Katrina which struck the city of New Orleans demonstrates: a) the effects of the attack on the social state in making Katrina the human disaster that it was, and b) the effects of neoliberal policies on compounding the dispossession of those who had already lost everything to the storm. As we shall see, Katrina is a perfect case of crisis manipulation with the aim of social engineering on a grand scale. But in order for it to be possible to propose the entire transformation of the social fabric of New Orleans, it was necessary to construct the majority of its population - mainly poor and black - as a wasteful drain on resources. To understand Katrina and its aftermath, it is necessary, according to Henry Giroux, to understand the workings of the ‘politics of disposability’, or how certain populations are seen as redundant and disposable - what Zygmunt Bauman has called ‘wasted life’ - in an age of neoliberal global capitalism. As Gary Younge reminds us, “rates of black infant mortality in Louisiana are on a par with those of Sri Lanka; black male life expectancy is the same as for men in Kyrgystan.” The consequences of Katrina, a natural yet avoidable disaster, for these people living in the richest country in the world, was, as Gary Younge puts it, “destruction, displacement and death.” [Show dvd 4 - When the Levees broke - photos - as backdrop to next bit] When Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of Louisiana on August 28 2005, it was clear that New Orleans was not going to survive. However, although the storm was classed as highest category 5 and was described by the mayor Ray Nagin as “a storm that most of us have long feared”, no plan was put in place to evacuate the city. Citizens were ordered to evacuate but they were left to do so on their own. The effect was that people who had cars and places to go to and managed to leave in time did; others, mainly poor and often African-American living in the most badly affected areas of the city, had no means to leave. Over 1500 people died with countless others remaining homeless. The city’s Superbowl became a temporary shelter for
  21. 21. “This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity.” Milton Friedman Tuesday, 18 March 14 According to Adolph Reed, entrepreneurs and politicians, black and white, were out to gain from the crisis of Katrina. This clip from Treme is an example of the profiteering that is characteristic in post-Katrina New Orleans [SHOW FILM] According to Adolph Reed, Naomi Klein, Henry Giroux and other authors, a neoliberal logic underpins the approach to post-Katrina New Orleans. There is no imaginable scenario which does not involve looking to the private sector to come to the rescue, according to Reed. However, in reality, little has been done to rebuild New Orleans for its citizens. In contrast, many key services have been outsourced at a high cost to local government while benefiting multinational companies such as Blackwater security (also present in Iraq) which was hired by the Governor of Lousiana to provide security in New Orleans after Katrina. In The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein reveals how Kenyon, the private company brought in to retrieve dead bodies, dictated that Emergency workers and local volunteers were forbidden to step in to help because handling the bodies impinged on Kenyon’s commercial territory. The company charged the state $12,500 a victim, and it has since been accused of failing to properly label many bodies. For almost a year after the flood, decayed corpses were still being discovered in attics (p. 411). As the father of neoliberalism, Milton Friedman noted after Katrina, "Most New Orleans schools are in ruins, as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity." He advocated that instead of spending government money to rebuild the school system, parents should be given vouchers to spend in private schools. The result was the complete take-over of the New Orleans school system by private institutions at rapid speed. As Naomi Klein notes in The Shock Doctrine, this type of take-over of the public system was what Friedman and his supporters had been advocating for years. Katrina gave them the opportunity to put their strategy into practice. As Klein puts it, the plan was to wait “for a major crisis, then sell off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock.” As Friedman put it “only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change.”
  22. 22. “This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity.” Milton Friedman Tuesday, 18 March 14 According to Adolph Reed, entrepreneurs and politicians, black and white, were out to gain from the crisis of Katrina. This clip from Treme is an example of the profiteering that is characteristic in post-Katrina New Orleans [SHOW FILM] According to Adolph Reed, Naomi Klein, Henry Giroux and other authors, a neoliberal logic underpins the approach to post-Katrina New Orleans. There is no imaginable scenario which does not involve looking to the private sector to come to the rescue, according to Reed. However, in reality, little has been done to rebuild New Orleans for its citizens. In contrast, many key services have been outsourced at a high cost to local government while benefiting multinational companies such as Blackwater security (also present in Iraq) which was hired by the Governor of Lousiana to provide security in New Orleans after Katrina. In The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein reveals how Kenyon, the private company brought in to retrieve dead bodies, dictated that Emergency workers and local volunteers were forbidden to step in to help because handling the bodies impinged on Kenyon’s commercial territory. The company charged the state $12,500 a victim, and it has since been accused of failing to properly label many bodies. For almost a year after the flood, decayed corpses were still being discovered in attics (p. 411). As the father of neoliberalism, Milton Friedman noted after Katrina, "Most New Orleans schools are in ruins, as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity." He advocated that instead of spending government money to rebuild the school system, parents should be given vouchers to spend in private schools. The result was the complete take-over of the New Orleans school system by private institutions at rapid speed. As Naomi Klein notes in The Shock Doctrine, this type of take-over of the public system was what Friedman and his supporters had been advocating for years. Katrina gave them the opportunity to put their strategy into practice. As Klein puts it, the plan was to wait “for a major crisis, then sell off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock.” As Friedman put it “only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change.”
  23. 23. Discussion Do you agree that ‘there is no alternative’ to neoliberalism? If you disagree, what do you think are the alternatives? In what ways are neoliberal approaches responsible for changes you/your family have experienced? Tuesday, 18 March 14

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