Sunday, October 12, 2008


"We are now learning what countries across the developing world have experienced over three decades: unstable and inequitable neoliberal economics leads to unacceptable levels of social disruption and hardship that can only be contained by brutal repression. Add that to the two other central charges against deregulated capitalism: first, it may create wealth but it does not distribute it effectively; and second, that it takes no account of what it cannot commodify - neither the social relationships of family and community nor the environment, which are vital to human wellbeing, and indeed to the functioning of the market itself. Ultimately, neoliberal capitalism is self-destructive.

We are now witnessing the collapse of this absurd economic orthodoxy that has dominated politics for nearly 30 years. Its triumphalist arrogance, its insistence on orthodoxy, has been comparable to Soviet communism in its scale. For two decades, we've been told "Tina" - "There is no alternative".

Now, as it all totters, we can take stock. We can ask how and why the critique - of which Frank was a part and Polanyi the bible - which was emerging in the late 90s was crippled. The anti-globalisation movement argued that neoliberal capitalism was unjust, unstable and destructive to human and environmental wellbeing. Sounds sensible now, but at the time it mysteriously got smeared by association with anarchists with a penchant for smashing Starbucks' windows. The broad network of social grassroots movements - US unions, Mexican peasants, Indian farmers - were misnamed, misunderstood, ridiculed and ignored. There is no alternative, the politicians intoned mantra-like.

Then 9/11 and for the next seven years a sideshow was offered as a distraction with caricature villains and thriller drama. While eyes were on the absurd charade of the "threat of Islamist terrorism to western civilisation", the real doomsday scenario that poses a far greater threat to western civilisation (whatever that is) was gathering pace right next to Ground Zero, in Wall Street.

From an excellent article by Madeleine Bunting writing for the Guardian.

1 comment:

Leila said...

I have always been suspicious of the so-called anarchists who smashed things in Seattle. The US government has a long history of planting agitators in leftist organizations. Those anarchists came out of nowhere but their antics are remembered far more than anything else that happened in Seattle.

The hoods, the sudden appearance, the destruction. This happened in SF too. I really, really think that the FBI is still paying people to join groups or form totally new, false groups in order to act badly and smear protest movements that threaten to gain popular support.