Political Sociology 1Neoliberalism, politics & the state
OverviewWhat is neoliberalism?Ideological apparatusNeoliberalism & the statePolitical effectsThe politics of disposability
What is          Neoliberalism?“Neoliberalism is a theory ofpolitical economic practicesproposing that human well-beingcan...
Accumulation by               dispossession‘...a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for the reorganization of...
Accumulation by               dispossession      Privatization‘...a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for th...
Accumulation by               dispossession      Privatization‘...a utopian project to realize a theoretical design for th...
Accumulation by               dispossession      Privatization      Financialization‘...a utopian project to realize a the...
Accumulation by               dispossession      Privatization      Financialization      Crisis management‘...a utopian p...
Accumulation by               dispossession      Privatization      Financialization      Crisis management      State red...
Neoliberalism & the       State
Neoliberalism & the       State           Neoliberalism needs           the state
Neoliberalism & the       State           Neoliberalism needs           the state           State and society           co...
Neoliberalism & the       State           Neoliberalism needs           the state           State and society           co...
Political effects
Political effectsEqual right toinequality
Political effectsEqual right toinequality
Political effectsEqual right toinequalityNo activecitizenry
Political effectsEqual right toinequalityNo activecitizenryLaw is “radicallydesacralized”
Ideological Apparatus Neoliberalism occupies the shell of liberalism, using    the rhetorics of liberal democracy while tu...
The Politics of           Disposability “The likelihood of becoming a ‘collateral victim’ of any humanundertaking... and o...
“This is a tragedy. It is also an          opportunity.”                      Milton Friedman
“This is a tragedy. It is also an          opportunity.”                      Milton Friedman
DiscussionDo you agree that ‘there is noalternative’ to neoliberalism?If you disagree, what do you thinkare the alternativ...
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Neoliberalism, politics and the state - Political Sociology Week 5

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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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  • 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. \n\nOne 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. \n\nFor 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. \n\nFor 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.\n\nSo, 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.\n\nWhat are the main features of neoliberalism?\n
  • 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.’\n\nHe claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’\n\nHarvey’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.\n\nHe 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.\n\nAccording 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.\n\nAs we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution.\n\nHarvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. \n\n1. Privatization:\nAs 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.\n\nThe 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 the UK, 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 as happened in the 1980s under Thatcher and continued in the 1990s and 2000s under New Labour. \n\nSimilar 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 people [SHOW FILM].\n\nThe effect on ordinary people include the loss of their livelihood due to the privatisation of land previously farmed by indigenous people across Latin America, India and Africa for example. People across the world often have to pay high prices for services that used to be paid for through taxation (such as education or health) or for formerly free goods, turned into commodities, such as water. \n\n2. Financialization:\nAfter 1980, finance becomes speculative and predatory, the effects of which are currently being lived through due to the global financial crisis. \n\nThe deregulation of the financial system was one of the main mechanisms through which wealth could be unequally redistributed. The state relinquished its right to oversee the financial system, allowing it to act without checks and balances.\n\nThe result was what Harvey calls debt incumbency, or the reduction of whole populations to a life in debt, both personal and societal. Individuals were encouraged to take put personal debts beyond their means, leading for example to the subprime mortgage crisis which was one of the main triggers of the global financial crash. \n\nMany states, in debt to the IMF, are forced to use a large part of their GDP to pay back the loans with resultant effects on citizens, forced to pay higher prices for goods and services, face measures of austerity including pay freezes, higher taxation and an absence of public services.\n\n3. The management and manipulation of crises:\nHarvey argues that the most insidious factor of neoliberal financial management is the creation of economic crises which can be then manipulated in order to redistribute wealth from the poorer regions of the world to the rich North (mainly the United States). \n\nHe explains how decisions, such as that of the US Federal Reserve to suddenly raise interest rates in 1979 led to countries in debt to the US to have to raise the proportion of foreign earnings put to repaying the debt. This happened to Mexico in the example Harvey gives. This was a way for the US to pillage the Mexican economy, according to Harvey. \n\nDebt crises, which were virtually non-existent in the 1960s, became very frequent from the 1980s on. Latin American countries, in particular, appeared to be in a state of permanent debt crisis. \n\nThe role of the state and of international institutions is to orchestrate these types of crises in ways that will not lead to popular revolt. The IMF structural adjustment programme is one way in which this happens because it is accompanied by projects that seem to encourage wealth creation among ordinary people in society (e.g. small business development for indigenous women...), but for Harvey, these mask the effects of debt incumbency.\n\nAs we saw in the Cochabamba example, the neoliberal state with its control over the means of violence, also acts to put paid to protest often with the assistance of its rich allies as was the case when the US intervened on behalf of several Latin American dictatorial, neoliberal regimes in the 1980s. \n\n4. State redistributions:\nThe aim of the state, as we have seen, is to redistribute assets from the poor to the rich. One of the main ways in which this is achieved is through privatization and cut-backs in public spending. \n\nIn the UK, privatization has been achieved while we are currently living through the most extreme situation of public spending cutbacks ever seen. The austerity measures being out in place by the government can be seen as a reaction to the kind of crisis manipulation described by Harvey in point 3.\n\nAccording to Stuart Hall, it was the aim of the Conservatives, before coming to power, to radically reduce the size of the state and they seized the global financial crisis as an opportunity, as neoliberal economist Milton Friedman put it, to ‘produce real change’.\n\nOne of the main ways in which wealth can be redistributed, under current conditions, is through the massive reduction of the public sector. According to Stuart Hall, while many among the wealthy have barely registered the recession, public sector workers are seeing redundancies, pay freezes and a sharp reduction of their pensions.\n\nSimilarly benefits will be capped and US-style workfare imposed, meaning that due to the rise in unemployment many will be neither able to find work nor eligible for unemployment benefit. \n\nThe privatisation of the NHS, of prisons and gradually of education will at the same time mean a reduction of the numbers of the population who will be able to benefit from these once common public systems, while concentrating wealth accumulation among the top 1% of society.\n
  • 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.’\n\nHe claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’\n\nHarvey’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.\n\nHe 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.\n\nAccording 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.\n\nAs we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution.\n\nHarvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. \n\n1. Privatization:\nAs 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.\n\nThe 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 the UK, 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 as happened in the 1980s under Thatcher and continued in the 1990s and 2000s under New Labour. \n\nSimilar 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 people [SHOW FILM].\n\nThe effect on ordinary people include the loss of their livelihood due to the privatisation of land previously farmed by indigenous people across Latin America, India and Africa for example. People across the world often have to pay high prices for services that used to be paid for through taxation (such as education or health) or for formerly free goods, turned into commodities, such as water. \n\n2. Financialization:\nAfter 1980, finance becomes speculative and predatory, the effects of which are currently being lived through due to the global financial crisis. \n\nThe deregulation of the financial system was one of the main mechanisms through which wealth could be unequally redistributed. The state relinquished its right to oversee the financial system, allowing it to act without checks and balances.\n\nThe result was what Harvey calls debt incumbency, or the reduction of whole populations to a life in debt, both personal and societal. Individuals were encouraged to take put personal debts beyond their means, leading for example to the subprime mortgage crisis which was one of the main triggers of the global financial crash. \n\nMany states, in debt to the IMF, are forced to use a large part of their GDP to pay back the loans with resultant effects on citizens, forced to pay higher prices for goods and services, face measures of austerity including pay freezes, higher taxation and an absence of public services.\n\n3. The management and manipulation of crises:\nHarvey argues that the most insidious factor of neoliberal financial management is the creation of economic crises which can be then manipulated in order to redistribute wealth from the poorer regions of the world to the rich North (mainly the United States). \n\nHe explains how decisions, such as that of the US Federal Reserve to suddenly raise interest rates in 1979 led to countries in debt to the US to have to raise the proportion of foreign earnings put to repaying the debt. This happened to Mexico in the example Harvey gives. This was a way for the US to pillage the Mexican economy, according to Harvey. \n\nDebt crises, which were virtually non-existent in the 1960s, became very frequent from the 1980s on. Latin American countries, in particular, appeared to be in a state of permanent debt crisis. \n\nThe role of the state and of international institutions is to orchestrate these types of crises in ways that will not lead to popular revolt. The IMF structural adjustment programme is one way in which this happens because it is accompanied by projects that seem to encourage wealth creation among ordinary people in society (e.g. small business development for indigenous women...), but for Harvey, these mask the effects of debt incumbency.\n\nAs we saw in the Cochabamba example, the neoliberal state with its control over the means of violence, also acts to put paid to protest often with the assistance of its rich allies as was the case when the US intervened on behalf of several Latin American dictatorial, neoliberal regimes in the 1980s. \n\n4. State redistributions:\nThe aim of the state, as we have seen, is to redistribute assets from the poor to the rich. One of the main ways in which this is achieved is through privatization and cut-backs in public spending. \n\nIn the UK, privatization has been achieved while we are currently living through the most extreme situation of public spending cutbacks ever seen. The austerity measures being out in place by the government can be seen as a reaction to the kind of crisis manipulation described by Harvey in point 3.\n\nAccording to Stuart Hall, it was the aim of the Conservatives, before coming to power, to radically reduce the size of the state and they seized the global financial crisis as an opportunity, as neoliberal economist Milton Friedman put it, to ‘produce real change’.\n\nOne of the main ways in which wealth can be redistributed, under current conditions, is through the massive reduction of the public sector. According to Stuart Hall, while many among the wealthy have barely registered the recession, public sector workers are seeing redundancies, pay freezes and a sharp reduction of their pensions.\n\nSimilarly benefits will be capped and US-style workfare imposed, meaning that due to the rise in unemployment many will be neither able to find work nor eligible for unemployment benefit. \n\nThe privatisation of the NHS, of prisons and gradually of education will at the same time mean a reduction of the numbers of the population who will be able to benefit from these once common public systems, while concentrating wealth accumulation among the top 1% of society.\n
  • 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.’\n\nHe claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’\n\nHarvey’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.\n\nHe 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.\n\nAccording 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.\n\nAs we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution.\n\nHarvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. \n\n1. Privatization:\nAs 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.\n\nThe 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 the UK, 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 as happened in the 1980s under Thatcher and continued in the 1990s and 2000s under New Labour. \n\nSimilar 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 people [SHOW FILM].\n\nThe effect on ordinary people include the loss of their livelihood due to the privatisation of land previously farmed by indigenous people across Latin America, India and Africa for example. People across the world often have to pay high prices for services that used to be paid for through taxation (such as education or health) or for formerly free goods, turned into commodities, such as water. \n\n2. Financialization:\nAfter 1980, finance becomes speculative and predatory, the effects of which are currently being lived through due to the global financial crisis. \n\nThe deregulation of the financial system was one of the main mechanisms through which wealth could be unequally redistributed. The state relinquished its right to oversee the financial system, allowing it to act without checks and balances.\n\nThe result was what Harvey calls debt incumbency, or the reduction of whole populations to a life in debt, both personal and societal. Individuals were encouraged to take put personal debts beyond their means, leading for example to the subprime mortgage crisis which was one of the main triggers of the global financial crash. \n\nMany states, in debt to the IMF, are forced to use a large part of their GDP to pay back the loans with resultant effects on citizens, forced to pay higher prices for goods and services, face measures of austerity including pay freezes, higher taxation and an absence of public services.\n\n3. The management and manipulation of crises:\nHarvey argues that the most insidious factor of neoliberal financial management is the creation of economic crises which can be then manipulated in order to redistribute wealth from the poorer regions of the world to the rich North (mainly the United States). \n\nHe explains how decisions, such as that of the US Federal Reserve to suddenly raise interest rates in 1979 led to countries in debt to the US to have to raise the proportion of foreign earnings put to repaying the debt. This happened to Mexico in the example Harvey gives. This was a way for the US to pillage the Mexican economy, according to Harvey. \n\nDebt crises, which were virtually non-existent in the 1960s, became very frequent from the 1980s on. Latin American countries, in particular, appeared to be in a state of permanent debt crisis. \n\nThe role of the state and of international institutions is to orchestrate these types of crises in ways that will not lead to popular revolt. The IMF structural adjustment programme is one way in which this happens because it is accompanied by projects that seem to encourage wealth creation among ordinary people in society (e.g. small business development for indigenous women...), but for Harvey, these mask the effects of debt incumbency.\n\nAs we saw in the Cochabamba example, the neoliberal state with its control over the means of violence, also acts to put paid to protest often with the assistance of its rich allies as was the case when the US intervened on behalf of several Latin American dictatorial, neoliberal regimes in the 1980s. \n\n4. State redistributions:\nThe aim of the state, as we have seen, is to redistribute assets from the poor to the rich. One of the main ways in which this is achieved is through privatization and cut-backs in public spending. \n\nIn the UK, privatization has been achieved while we are currently living through the most extreme situation of public spending cutbacks ever seen. The austerity measures being out in place by the government can be seen as a reaction to the kind of crisis manipulation described by Harvey in point 3.\n\nAccording to Stuart Hall, it was the aim of the Conservatives, before coming to power, to radically reduce the size of the state and they seized the global financial crisis as an opportunity, as neoliberal economist Milton Friedman put it, to ‘produce real change’.\n\nOne of the main ways in which wealth can be redistributed, under current conditions, is through the massive reduction of the public sector. According to Stuart Hall, while many among the wealthy have barely registered the recession, public sector workers are seeing redundancies, pay freezes and a sharp reduction of their pensions.\n\nSimilarly benefits will be capped and US-style workfare imposed, meaning that due to the rise in unemployment many will be neither able to find work nor eligible for unemployment benefit. \n\nThe privatisation of the NHS, of prisons and gradually of education will at the same time mean a reduction of the numbers of the population who will be able to benefit from these once common public systems, while concentrating wealth accumulation among the top 1% of society.\n
  • 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.’\n\nHe claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’\n\nHarvey’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.\n\nHe 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.\n\nAccording 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.\n\nAs we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution.\n\nHarvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. \n\n1. Privatization:\nAs 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.\n\nThe 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 the UK, 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 as happened in the 1980s under Thatcher and continued in the 1990s and 2000s under New Labour. \n\nSimilar 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 people [SHOW FILM].\n\nThe effect on ordinary people include the loss of their livelihood due to the privatisation of land previously farmed by indigenous people across Latin America, India and Africa for example. People across the world often have to pay high prices for services that used to be paid for through taxation (such as education or health) or for formerly free goods, turned into commodities, such as water. \n\n2. Financialization:\nAfter 1980, finance becomes speculative and predatory, the effects of which are currently being lived through due to the global financial crisis. \n\nThe deregulation of the financial system was one of the main mechanisms through which wealth could be unequally redistributed. The state relinquished its right to oversee the financial system, allowing it to act without checks and balances.\n\nThe result was what Harvey calls debt incumbency, or the reduction of whole populations to a life in debt, both personal and societal. Individuals were encouraged to take put personal debts beyond their means, leading for example to the subprime mortgage crisis which was one of the main triggers of the global financial crash. \n\nMany states, in debt to the IMF, are forced to use a large part of their GDP to pay back the loans with resultant effects on citizens, forced to pay higher prices for goods and services, face measures of austerity including pay freezes, higher taxation and an absence of public services.\n\n3. The management and manipulation of crises:\nHarvey argues that the most insidious factor of neoliberal financial management is the creation of economic crises which can be then manipulated in order to redistribute wealth from the poorer regions of the world to the rich North (mainly the United States). \n\nHe explains how decisions, such as that of the US Federal Reserve to suddenly raise interest rates in 1979 led to countries in debt to the US to have to raise the proportion of foreign earnings put to repaying the debt. This happened to Mexico in the example Harvey gives. This was a way for the US to pillage the Mexican economy, according to Harvey. \n\nDebt crises, which were virtually non-existent in the 1960s, became very frequent from the 1980s on. Latin American countries, in particular, appeared to be in a state of permanent debt crisis. \n\nThe role of the state and of international institutions is to orchestrate these types of crises in ways that will not lead to popular revolt. The IMF structural adjustment programme is one way in which this happens because it is accompanied by projects that seem to encourage wealth creation among ordinary people in society (e.g. small business development for indigenous women...), but for Harvey, these mask the effects of debt incumbency.\n\nAs we saw in the Cochabamba example, the neoliberal state with its control over the means of violence, also acts to put paid to protest often with the assistance of its rich allies as was the case when the US intervened on behalf of several Latin American dictatorial, neoliberal regimes in the 1980s. \n\n4. State redistributions:\nThe aim of the state, as we have seen, is to redistribute assets from the poor to the rich. One of the main ways in which this is achieved is through privatization and cut-backs in public spending. \n\nIn the UK, privatization has been achieved while we are currently living through the most extreme situation of public spending cutbacks ever seen. The austerity measures being out in place by the government can be seen as a reaction to the kind of crisis manipulation described by Harvey in point 3.\n\nAccording to Stuart Hall, it was the aim of the Conservatives, before coming to power, to radically reduce the size of the state and they seized the global financial crisis as an opportunity, as neoliberal economist Milton Friedman put it, to ‘produce real change’.\n\nOne of the main ways in which wealth can be redistributed, under current conditions, is through the massive reduction of the public sector. According to Stuart Hall, while many among the wealthy have barely registered the recession, public sector workers are seeing redundancies, pay freezes and a sharp reduction of their pensions.\n\nSimilarly benefits will be capped and US-style workfare imposed, meaning that due to the rise in unemployment many will be neither able to find work nor eligible for unemployment benefit. \n\nThe privatisation of the NHS, of prisons and gradually of education will at the same time mean a reduction of the numbers of the population who will be able to benefit from these once common public systems, while concentrating wealth accumulation among the top 1% of society.\n
  • 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.’\n\nHe claims that ‘the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’\n\nHarvey’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.\n\nHe 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.\n\nAccording 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.\n\nAs we shall see, the state’s apparatus - including its legal structure and military power - is put at the service of ensuring this redistribution.\n\nHarvey pinpoints four main areas in which accumulation by dispossession takes place in his 2007 article. \n\n1. Privatization:\nAs 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.\n\nThe 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 the UK, 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 as happened in the 1980s under Thatcher and continued in the 1990s and 2000s under New Labour. \n\nSimilar 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 people [SHOW FILM].\n\nThe effect on ordinary people include the loss of their livelihood due to the privatisation of land previously farmed by indigenous people across Latin America, India and Africa for example. People across the world often have to pay high prices for services that used to be paid for through taxation (such as education or health) or for formerly free goods, turned into commodities, such as water. \n\n2. Financialization:\nAfter 1980, finance becomes speculative and predatory, the effects of which are currently being lived through due to the global financial crisis. \n\nThe deregulation of the financial system was one of the main mechanisms through which wealth could be unequally redistributed. The state relinquished its right to oversee the financial system, allowing it to act without checks and balances.\n\nThe result was what Harvey calls debt incumbency, or the reduction of whole populations to a life in debt, both personal and societal. Individuals were encouraged to take put personal debts beyond their means, leading for example to the subprime mortgage crisis which was one of the main triggers of the global financial crash. \n\nMany states, in debt to the IMF, are forced to use a large part of their GDP to pay back the loans with resultant effects on citizens, forced to pay higher prices for goods and services, face measures of austerity including pay freezes, higher taxation and an absence of public services.\n\n3. The management and manipulation of crises:\nHarvey argues that the most insidious factor of neoliberal financial management is the creation of economic crises which can be then manipulated in order to redistribute wealth from the poorer regions of the world to the rich North (mainly the United States). \n\nHe explains how decisions, such as that of the US Federal Reserve to suddenly raise interest rates in 1979 led to countries in debt to the US to have to raise the proportion of foreign earnings put to repaying the debt. This happened to Mexico in the example Harvey gives. This was a way for the US to pillage the Mexican economy, according to Harvey. \n\nDebt crises, which were virtually non-existent in the 1960s, became very frequent from the 1980s on. Latin American countries, in particular, appeared to be in a state of permanent debt crisis. \n\nThe role of the state and of international institutions is to orchestrate these types of crises in ways that will not lead to popular revolt. The IMF structural adjustment programme is one way in which this happens because it is accompanied by projects that seem to encourage wealth creation among ordinary people in society (e.g. small business development for indigenous women...), but for Harvey, these mask the effects of debt incumbency.\n\nAs we saw in the Cochabamba example, the neoliberal state with its control over the means of violence, also acts to put paid to protest often with the assistance of its rich allies as was the case when the US intervened on behalf of several Latin American dictatorial, neoliberal regimes in the 1980s. \n\n4. State redistributions:\nThe aim of the state, as we have seen, is to redistribute assets from the poor to the rich. One of the main ways in which this is achieved is through privatization and cut-backs in public spending. \n\nIn the UK, privatization has been achieved while we are currently living through the most extreme situation of public spending cutbacks ever seen. The austerity measures being out in place by the government can be seen as a reaction to the kind of crisis manipulation described by Harvey in point 3.\n\nAccording to Stuart Hall, it was the aim of the Conservatives, before coming to power, to radically reduce the size of the state and they seized the global financial crisis as an opportunity, as neoliberal economist Milton Friedman put it, to ‘produce real change’.\n\nOne of the main ways in which wealth can be redistributed, under current conditions, is through the massive reduction of the public sector. According to Stuart Hall, while many among the wealthy have barely registered the recession, public sector workers are seeing redundancies, pay freezes and a sharp reduction of their pensions.\n\nSimilarly benefits will be capped and US-style workfare imposed, meaning that due to the rise in unemployment many will be neither able to find work nor eligible for unemployment benefit. \n\nThe privatisation of the NHS, of prisons and gradually of education will at the same time mean a reduction of the numbers of the population who will be able to benefit from these once common public systems, while concentrating wealth accumulation among the top 1% of society.\n
  • According to Wendy Brown, the political rationality of neoliberalism can be understood according to three main characteristics.\n\n1. 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.\n\nClassical 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. \n\nSo 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.”\n\n2. 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.\n\nOne 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.\n\nWendy 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.”\n\nThis 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. \n\nTherefore, 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 maintains a hold on the reins for the benefit of the free market and those who profit from it (the minority in society).\n\n3. Thirdly, business norms come to define politics. Governance is measured in terms of productivity and profitability. As Brown argues, this means that “businesspersons replace lawyers as the governing class in liberal democracies.” \n\nDemocratic principles and the rule of law become either obstacles or tools - either things that have to be gotten around so as to ensure the free flow of capital, or strategies that can be used to the same end.\n\nBrown follows Foucault in calling this the ‘tacticalization of law’ - the law literally becomes a tactic rather than a set of principles.\n\n\n
  • According to Wendy Brown, the political rationality of neoliberalism can be understood according to three main characteristics.\n\n1. 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.\n\nClassical 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. \n\nSo 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.”\n\n2. 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.\n\nOne 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.\n\nWendy 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.”\n\nThis 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. \n\nTherefore, 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 maintains a hold on the reins for the benefit of the free market and those who profit from it (the minority in society).\n\n3. Thirdly, business norms come to define politics. Governance is measured in terms of productivity and profitability. As Brown argues, this means that “businesspersons replace lawyers as the governing class in liberal democracies.” \n\nDemocratic principles and the rule of law become either obstacles or tools - either things that have to be gotten around so as to ensure the free flow of capital, or strategies that can be used to the same end.\n\nBrown follows Foucault in calling this the ‘tacticalization of law’ - the law literally becomes a tactic rather than a set of principles.\n\n\n
  • According to Wendy Brown, the political rationality of neoliberalism can be understood according to three main characteristics.\n\n1. 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.\n\nClassical 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. \n\nSo 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.”\n\n2. 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.\n\nOne 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.\n\nWendy 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.”\n\nThis 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. \n\nTherefore, 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 maintains a hold on the reins for the benefit of the free market and those who profit from it (the minority in society).\n\n3. Thirdly, business norms come to define politics. Governance is measured in terms of productivity and profitability. As Brown argues, this means that “businesspersons replace lawyers as the governing class in liberal democracies.” \n\nDemocratic principles and the rule of law become either obstacles or tools - either things that have to be gotten around so as to ensure the free flow of capital, or strategies that can be used to the same end.\n\nBrown follows Foucault in calling this the ‘tacticalization of law’ - the law literally becomes a tactic rather than a set of principles.\n\n\n
  • 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:\n\n1. Egalitarianism becomes a thing of the past to be replaced by what neoliberals have called “the equal right to inequality”. \nThis is exemplified in Margaret thatcher’s 1975 speech [show movie]\n\nThe 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). \n\nIt 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.\n\n2. 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’.\n\nInterestingly, 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. \n\nWhen 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. \n\n3. 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.\n\nThe 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. \n\nBecause the individual rather than the state is privileged under neoliberalism, it becomes possible to tactically use pre-existing laws to argue that socially progressive measures (such as affirmative action) deny the individual’s rights against that of the collective. \n\n\n
  • 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:\n\n1. Egalitarianism becomes a thing of the past to be replaced by what neoliberals have called “the equal right to inequality”. \nThis is exemplified in Margaret thatcher’s 1975 speech [show movie]\n\nThe 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). \n\nIt 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.\n\n2. 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’.\n\nInterestingly, 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. \n\nWhen 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. \n\n3. 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.\n\nThe 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. \n\nBecause the individual rather than the state is privileged under neoliberalism, it becomes possible to tactically use pre-existing laws to argue that socially progressive measures (such as affirmative action) deny the individual’s rights against that of the collective. \n\n\n
  • 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:\n\n1. Egalitarianism becomes a thing of the past to be replaced by what neoliberals have called “the equal right to inequality”. \nThis is exemplified in Margaret thatcher’s 1975 speech [show movie]\n\nThe 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). \n\nIt 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.\n\n2. 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’.\n\nInterestingly, 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. \n\nWhen 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. \n\n3. 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.\n\nThe 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. \n\nBecause the individual rather than the state is privileged under neoliberalism, it becomes possible to tactically use pre-existing laws to argue that socially progressive measures (such as affirmative action) deny the individual’s rights against that of the collective. \n\n\n
  • 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:\n\n1. Egalitarianism becomes a thing of the past to be replaced by what neoliberals have called “the equal right to inequality”. \nThis is exemplified in Margaret thatcher’s 1975 speech [show movie]\n\nThe 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). \n\nIt 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.\n\n2. 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’.\n\nInterestingly, 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. \n\nWhen 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. \n\n3. 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.\n\nThe 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. \n\nBecause the individual rather than the state is privileged under neoliberalism, it becomes possible to tactically use pre-existing laws to argue that socially progressive measures (such as affirmative action) deny the individual’s rights against that of the collective. \n\n\n
  • 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.\n\nBut if, as these authors argue, the effects on ordinary people is so detrimental, how was all of this achieved without a massive mobilization of popular dissent?\n\nHow 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?\n\nLiberty:\n\nOne 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.\n\nNeoliberal 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. \n\nSo 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.\n\nWe 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. \n\nThis 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. \n\nAutonomy and Choice:\n\nAnother way in which neoliberalism achieves hegemony is through its preaching of personal autonomy and choice (linked to freedom). According to the rhetoric, people who work hard and obey the law, by not violating another’s property, should be free to act as they like. \n\nStuart Hall explains that current Coalition government policy makes use of the appeal to autonomy by encouraging localism, for example. The aim of localism is to empower people by allowing them to run their own local councils and schools for example. Hall notes how David Cameron unabashedly uses the 1960s anti-authoritarian phrase ‘power to the people’ to encourage this. \n\nFor Hall, the government’s policy of allowing parents to set up free schools will, much less than making people autonomous, eventually lead to the creation of more private schools as parents, without the requisite training, time or money, will be forced to relinquish control of ‘free’ schools to the private education sector. Their choice will therefore ultimately be reduced to the same one that currently exists - public or private - and arguably, this could be further reduced if full privatisation is achieved.\n\nSimilarly, the Thatcherite policy of allowing people to buy their council houses in the 1980s appeared to be progressive policy, granting ordinary people with no hope of competing on the housing market the chance to own their own homes. However, in practice, this soon led to these people being priced out of the market because privatisation led to property developers entering inner city areas and forcing local people out. City centres quickly became unaffordable for former council house owners. \n\nThe Alternative\n\nIn addition to the themes of liberty and autonomy, the notion that - as Margaret Thatcher put it - ‘There is no alternative’ was powerfully persuasive. Especially, during the 1970s and 80s, with the Cold War still on, the fact that Eastern Europe was under Soviet dictatorship was used to argue that the alternative to neoliberal capitalism was repression. \n\nBecause the free market was portrayed by neoliberals as the most rational, and even natural, way of life for human beings in general, the argument was that the only way that free trade could be suppressed was through the gulag and the KGB.\n\nThe fact that, after 1989, eastern Europeans seemed to welcome free trade with open arms was seen as further proof that capitalism was rational and natural. However, eastern Europeans were just as easily confused by the appeal to freedom within neoliberalism as their western counterparts were. Everyone wants freedom and neoliberalism’s most creative tool was in the ability to associate freedom with the market. \n\nConclusion:\nThe project of turning neoliberalism into the popular consensus was achieved not only through transforming economic systems, but on revolutionising individual behaviour. As Margaret Thatcher put it, ‘economics are the method, but the object is to change the soul.’\n\n
  • 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.\n\nWe will take a closer look at some of the policies that create social disadvantage and marginalisation when we look at the theme of inequality in Week 8.\n\nFor 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:\na) the effects of the attack on the social state in making Katrina the human disaster that it was, and \nb) the effects of neoliberal policies on compounding the dispossession of those who had already lost everything to the storm.\n\nAs we shall see, Katrina is a perfect case of crisis manipulation with the aim of social engineering on a grand scale. \n\nBut 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.\n\nAs 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.”\n\n[Show dvd 4 - When the Levees broke - photos - as backdrop to next bit]\n\nWhen 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. \n\nThe 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 tens of thousands of people who stayed there in conditions of extreme heat, with little food and water for several days. The federal government agency FEMA had gravely underestimated the numbers of people who would suffer as a result of the storm. President George Bush did not cancel his holiday to return to Washington.\n\nThe Independent Levee Investigation Team revealed that the levees which were responsible for holding the water back failed because they were inadequately constructed due to a lack of government spending. This was despite repeated warnings that a disaster on the scale of Katrina was only waiting to happen.\n\nOrdinary people attempted to rescue others trapped in their homes. The National Guard was only called in in the aftermath of the disaster mainly to police the streets and safeguard private property and businesses from looting. The focus was on the criminality of the residents of New Orleans, rather than on the effects of the disaster.\n\nOne of the main effects of the hurricane was that more than a 140,000 New Orleans residents could not return home and remain exiled in other parts of the country, refugees in their own land. \n\nThis is mainly because, as Adolph Reed points out, the majority of poor (and often black) people who lost their homes in the storm were rentees. Roughly 90% of the destroyed homes were affordable rental properties. Nothing was done to rebuild these homes as the land was sold to property developers to build new, private accommodation thus pricing rentees out of the market. As a result New Orleans lost 29% of its citizens, while its black population decreased from 67.3% in 2000 to 60.2% in 2010.\n\nThis was part of a plan, endorsed by the New Orleans by the New Orleans city council to reshape the city which had been notorious for poverty and crime as well as localised traditions and customs centred around music which did not have a strong work ethic at their core. \n\nAs Reed notes, importantly, the post-Katrina neoliberalisation of New Orleans was not just about race - although black people did fare worse than others. Black politicians were just as invested in redrawing the city along new demographic lines after Katrina. He quotes the African-American president of the New Orleans City Council who saw post-Katrina as an opportunity to rid the city of ‘pampered’ poor people who were welfare recipients and that they should not hurry to return. \n\nAs the TV series, Treme, shows, housing projects that did not suffer as a result of the storm were purposefully kept closed so that residents could not return to live in them; anyone who tried to do so was arrested.\n\n3,000 municipal employees were made redundant and a year after the storm only half the schools were open, most of them private. As a result, 7,500 teachers lost their jobs.\n\n\n\n\n\n
  • According to Adolph Reed, entrepreneurs and politicians, black and white, were out to gain from the crisis of Katrina. \n\nThis clip from Treme is an example of the profiteering that is characteristic in post-Katrina New Orleans [SHOW FILM]\n\nAccording 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. \n\nHowever, 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. \n\nIn The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein reveals how Kenyon, the private company brought in to retrieve dead bodies, dictated that \nEmergency 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). \n\nAs 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."\nHe 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.\nAs 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.” \nAs Friedman put it “only a crisis - actual or perceived - produces real change.”\n\n
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  • Neoliberalism, politics and the state - Political Sociology Week 5

    1. 1. Political Sociology 1Neoliberalism, politics & the state
    2. 2. OverviewWhat is neoliberalism?Ideological apparatusNeoliberalism & the statePolitical effectsThe politics of disposability
    3. 3. What is Neoliberalism?“Neoliberalism is a theory ofpolitical economic practicesproposing that human well-beingcan best be advanced by themaximization of entrepreneurialfreedoms within an institutionalframework characterized byprivate property rights,individual liberty, unencumberedmarkets, and free trade.” David Harvey (2007)
    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 theconditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005)
    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 theconditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005)
    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 theconditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005)
    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 theconditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005)
    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 theconditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005)
    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 theconditions for capital accumulation and to restore the power of economic elites… the second of these objectives has in practice dominated.’ David Harvey (2005)
    10. 10. Neoliberalism & the State
    11. 11. Neoliberalism & the State Neoliberalism needs the state
    12. 12. Neoliberalism & the State Neoliberalism needs the state State and society constituted in market terms
    13. 13. Neoliberalism & the State Neoliberalism needs the state State and society constituted in market terms Productivity and profitability become criteria for governance
    14. 14. Political effects
    15. 15. Political effectsEqual right toinequality
    16. 16. Political effectsEqual right toinequality
    17. 17. Political effectsEqual right toinequalityNo activecitizenry
    18. 18. Political effectsEqual right toinequalityNo activecitizenryLaw is “radicallydesacralized”
    19. 19. Ideological Apparatus Neoliberalism occupies the shell of liberalism, using the rhetorics of liberal democracy while turningliberalism “in the direction of liberality rather than liberty.” Wendy Brown (2005)
    20. 20. The Politics of Disposability “The likelihood of becoming a ‘collateral victim’ of any humanundertaking... and of any ‘natural’ catastrophe, however class- blind, is currently one of the most salient and striking dimensions of social inequality.” Zygmunt Bauman (2011)
    21. 21. “This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity.” Milton Friedman
    22. 22. “This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity.” Milton Friedman
    23. 23. DiscussionDo you agree that ‘there is noalternative’ to neoliberalism?If you disagree, what do you thinkare the alternatives?In what ways are neoliberalapproaches responsible for changesyou are currently living through?

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