A- A A+  

Civilisation beyond the con of neoliberalism

Andrew Hamilton |  29 June 2018

It has been a good month for large issues. Just in time to arrest ponderous musings about Western Civilisation, up jumps Richard Denniss' cheeky funeral oration for the neoliberal settlement.

Quarterly Essay 70 Dead Right: How Neoliberalism Ate Itself and what Comes Next, by Richard Denniss The target of Denniss' essay is the neoliberal assumption that an economy based on unregulated competition between competitive individuals will benefit society.
He does not spend time arguing with the theory, as most of us do, but points to the results: anxious, overworked citizens, inadequate services, flat wages, growing inequality, rampant corruption in massively profitable corporations and increasing distrust of politicians and institutions.
His most intriguing reason for not engaging with economic theory is that the interested parties have simply used it as a con in order to distract people from what is being done to them. It generates slogans like competition and small government, which, with the connivance of governments, corporations use to transfer resources to themselves at the expense of society.
Although competition can be beneficial, it has been introduced into areas where it is inappropriate, such as public utilities like electricity, and into social services like care for the aged and education. The appeal to small government and the labelling of taxation as a burden enable social needs to be set against economic growth, so that any push for increased benefits for the unemployed or Indigenous Australians can be presented as a threat to working citizens. Society becomes divided while the knowing run away with the loot.
Denniss regards this as a con because neither governments nor corporations believe in competition. On the contrary they use regulation to exclude it.
Privatisation is structured in such a way as to breed oligopolies or monopolies. Regulations on unions are introduced to prevent workers competing with employers; subsidies are offered to large companies to develop coalmines that otherwise would be uncompetitive; the efforts made by the government to prevent the predatory behaviour of the major banks from coming to light speak for themselves. Small government means spending government money for party political reasons on big enterprises of questionable value, such as the inland railway.
"To conceive the good of society as the product of individuals competing economically erodes all the connections that link human beings to one another, and particularly those connections that make strangers into fellow civilians."
Read the full article here:



Similar articles

Pope challenges economics, globalisation

Bruce Duncan | 30 June 2018

The Pope blames growing inequality and poverty in large part on major financial and transnational corporations and powerful special interests. These, he says, cloak their policies in an ideology that free markets will operate most efficiently with minimal regulation, thus giving little weight to moral issues of distribution or social consequences, writes Bruce Duncan for Social Policy Connections.

US bishops at Mexico border amid separation

Brian Roewe | 30 June 2018

A delegation of U.S. bishops will head to the nation's southern border Monday as national attention remains focused on the separation of immigrant families who have attempted to enter the country illegally, writes Brian Roewe for National Catholic Reporter.

Checking a partisan court

E J Dionne Jr | 30 June 2018

The US constitutional system of checks and balances works only if those in a position to work the levers of checking and balancing do their job. It seems a Republican Congress and Republican appointees to the Supreme Court have no taste for such work leaving the president unchecked, writes E J Dionne Jr for Commonweal Magazine.

Vatican blasts inequality – greed

Bruce Duncan | 06 June 2018

The Vatican has launched a stringent critique of widespread abuses in global economies, which are driving astonishing degrees of inequality, threatening ecological sustainability, and unleashing powerful reactionary political forces in response, as seen in parts of Europe and elsewhere.

Macron visits Ouvea on eve of anniversary

Radio New Zealand | 10 May 2018

The French president Emmanuel Macron has visited the island of Ouvea on the 30th anniversary of the bloody end of the 1988 hostage crisis