In today’s article, Jake Lewis discusses the concept of Neo-liberalism. Jake is Youth Officer for the Tidenham branch of the Forest of Dean Labour Party and is studying politics and business studies in Sixth Form. Currently, he is currently a member of Labour, Momentum, UNITE and proudly campaigns on local issues in the Forest of Dean. Jake also writes on political and other issues in his spare time for a personal site.
The modern day rhetoric is full of talk of needs for austerity, economic stability and making Britain the competitive power of the modern world, so is this just sensible analysis? Or is this the droning on of a closet ideologue?
To add context to the narrative I’m going to explain what neo-liberalism is and who championed this ideology since it first rose its serpent head from above the torrents of poverty it has created, as well as its modern day effects and finally why we need an alternative to this ominous force.
When writing about neoliberalism in The Guardian, author George Monbiot said:
“The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name.”
Neoliberalism has benefited from the magic of ignorance and purposeful horrible media coverage. Speaking about neoliberalism, rather than gaining the intrepid ears of the majority of people, you gain weird looks and condescending statements as if you’re some crazy conspiracy theorist. Instead neoliberalism is the modern majority economic theory, an extreme right wing ideology based on as close to complete economic freedom as possible.
As Thomas G. Clark (author of his blog, Another Angry Voice) writes:
“To give a short, oversimplified definition: Neoliberalism is a small-state economic ideology based on promoting ‘rational self-interest’ through policies such as privatisation, deregulation, globalisation and tax cuts.”
This simplify this even further, the ideology of neoliberalism is completely dedicated in an individualistic concept. You are you, and no one else is to intervene in you doing what you do, for example in companies doing what they like in the free markets that neoliberals champion so aggressively. For those that follow neoliberalism so aggressively, any attempt to regulate markets or harm 100% competition is an attack on their rights. Any form of public service is the exact opposite of what they want and taxes must be minimised so much that they are almost non-existent if possible.
To this end, neoliberalism is extremely different to modern liberalism in that it applies a view of the world where everything is about competitiveness, rather than making the country more fair for the unable in society like in modern liberalism. Neoliberalism is a ‘rat race to the bottom‘ as described by the assembly of young researchers in Macedonia:
“What this competitiveness means in practice is actually a rat race to the bottom, where the countries of the world compete among themselves which one would offer more precarious labour conditions and lower wages in order to attract foreign investors. . .”
But of course, all you hear about is austerity and ‘long-term economic plans’ (Mainly because George Osborne really couldn’t let go of that phrase but still).
“But Jake, what has this got to do with neoliberalism?”
Very bluntly, austerity is the core part of a neoliberal agenda, the enforced cutting of public services, and it has been affecting the British people since Thatcher and continued even under Blair, and as a result the level of equality in the United Kingdom has dropped like a stone as inequality rises and rises like the rising tides of global warming (another issue that neoliberals seem to continue to refuse to confront due to their obsessed with deregulating corporate business), all while feeding you lie after lie that the economy is getting stronger, as we fall further into unpaid debt, as we continue to under-fund or cut public services, even selling off what little we have for shockingly low prices or even selling services which were making us profits!
And all this, when statistics like these are coming through.
As you can see, income inequality according to the Gini has only gone up and up under neoliberalism, truly crushing down on the glory days of Labour investment programs. Even America under neoliberals like Reagan, Obama (as shown by his support of TPP, which is utterly terrible), and both of the current US candidates has and will continue to have rising inequality for as long as we embrace these idiotic ideologies of every man for himself we will fall further and further into poverty.
Regulation is required for equality, both of opportunity and working standards.