Al Jazeera on Egypt’s Revolt Against Neoliberalism

An article by ‘Abu Atris’ on Al Jazeera (hat tip Richard Kline) confirms an argument made by Matt Stoller in recent post, namely, that the rebellion in Egypt is not merely political but economic, and specifically in opposition to neoliberal policies. This so-called “Washington Consensus” reached its apex of influence in the 1990s

The article focuses on the individuals and groups that profited handsomely during the implementation of “reforms” that syphoned money to the top of that society at the expense of the rest, and how the one beneficiary that remains in a position of influence, the military, might play its cards. In addition to providing a window in some of the dynamics at work in Egypt, it also provides a vivid description of the nature and destructive impact of a neoliberal economic program. It is not hard to see that America has already gone a long way down that dark path.

From Al Jazeera:

Now that the Mubarak regime has fallen, an urge to account for its crimes and to identify its accomplices has come to the fore. The chants, songs, and poetry performed in Midan al-Tahrir always contained an element of anger against haramiyya (thieves) who benefited from regime corruption. Now lists of regime supporters are circulating in the press and blogosphere. Mubarak and his closest relatives (sons Gamal and ‘Ala’) are always at the head of these lists. Articles on their personal wealth give figures as low as $3 billion to as high as $70 billion (the higher number was repeated on many protesters’ signs)….

To describe blatant exploitation of the political system for personal gain as corruption misses the forest for the trees. Such exploitation is surely an outrage against Egyptian citizens, but calling it corruption suggests that the problem is aberrations from a system that would otherwise function smoothly. If this were the case then the crimes of the Mubarak regime could be attributed simply to bad character: change the people and the problems go away. But the real problem with the regime was not necessarily that high-ranking members of the government were thieves in an ordinary sense. They did not necessarily steal directly from the treasury. Rather they were enriched through a conflation of politics and business under the guise of privatization. This was less a violation of the system than business as usual. Mubarak’s Egypt, in a nutshell, was a quintessential neoliberal state.

What is neoliberalism? In his Brief History of Neoliberalism, the eminent social geographer David Harvey outlined “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterised by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.” Neoliberal states guarantee, by force if necessary, the “proper functioning” of markets; where markets do not exist (for example, in the use of land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then the state should create them.

Guaranteeing the sanctity of markets is supposed to be the limit of legitimate state functions, and state interventions should always be subordinate to markets. All human behavior, and not just the production of goods and services, can be reduced to market transactions.

And the application of utopian neoliberalism in the real world leads to deformed societies as surely as the application of utopian communism did…..

The only people for whom Egyptian neoliberalism worked “by the book” were the most vulnerable members of society, and their experience with neoliberalism was not a pretty picture. Organised labor was fiercely suppressed. The public education and the health care systems were gutted by a combination of neglect and privatization. Much of the population suffered stagnant or falling wages relative to inflation. Official unemployment was estimated at approximately 9.4% last year (and much higher for the youth who spearheaded the January 25th Revolution), and about 20% of the population is said to live below a poverty line defined as $2 per day per person.

For the wealthy, the rules were very different. Egypt did not so much shrink its public sector, as neoliberal doctrine would have it, as it reallocated public resources for the benefit of a small and already affluent elite. Privatization provided windfalls for politically well-connected individuals who could purchase state-owned assets for much less than their market value, or monopolise rents from such diverse sources as tourism and foreign aid. Huge proportions of the profits made by companies that supplied basic construction materials like steel and cement came from government contracts, a proportion of which in turn were related to aid from foreign governments.

Most importantly, the very limited function for the state recommended by neoliberal doctrine in the abstract was turned on its head in reality. In Mubarak’s Egypt business and government were so tightly intertwined that it was often difficult for an outside observer to tease them apart….

Everywhere neoliberalism has been tried, the results are similar: living up to the utopian ideal is impossible; formal measures of economic activity mask huge disparities in the fortunes of the rich and poor; elites become “masters of the universe,” using force to defend their prerogatives, and manipulating the economy to their advantage, but never living in anything resembling the heavily marketised worlds that are imposed on the poor.

You can read the article in full here.

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101 comments

  1. attempter

    ..where markets do not exist (for example, in the use of land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution), then the state should create them.

    That’s one of the most telling points, which proves the basic fraudulence of “conservative” and “libertarian” ideology, which are actually ideologies of big, aggressive government.

    What could possibly be a more radical action of Big Government than the forced creation of a command “market” where no such market naturally exists? This is obviously the case with all natural resources, and it’s the case with human labor.

    I’ll add that the government’s artificial creation of corporations is another radical, aggressive government program.

    1. psychohistorian

      attempter said: “I’ll add that the government’s artificial creation of corporations is another radical, aggressive government program.”

      I would argue that in America this happened in the mid 50’s when corporations were given constitutional rights heretofore reserved for the people. It was done then to “fight godless commmunism” and has provided a perfect vehicle for the march toward fascism that we see before us is almost complete.

      1. attempter

        True, although the history’s a little off. The 50s were actually a relative doldrum for the corporate SCOTUS onslaught.

        The door was first opened with 1819’s Dartmouth v. Woodward. Some “rights” gradually accrued until the 1886 watershed Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad, which snuck “corporate personhood” into constitutional jurisprudence through a shadowy back door. (The subterfuge is a long and interesting story.)

        Within a year the SCOTUS was openly citing this fraudulent “personhood” precedent, and for the next 50 years the floodgates were opened. Case after case expanded corporate “rights” and restricted citizen and human rights where those conflicted with corporate arrogations.

        From 1937 through the early 60s was a hiatus, then the process crept forward again, lurching into high gear with the 70s’ “speech is money” and “corporate speech” decisions (the ACLU’s anti-democratic role in this has been despicable from the start; more evidence for how existing groups, even the best of them, are fundamentally against the people). From then to this day the anti-democratic, anti-constitutional onslaught’s been advancing with full fury. Citizens United was just the latest atrocity.

          1. attempter

            That’s one possibility. There are various proposals for amendments to restore the Constitution by affirming that corporations are not persons, and to restore the original, pre-Civil War restrictions on corporate size, lifespan, scope, sector, as well as restore the responsibilities and liabilities of management and shareholders.

            Perhaps the single most important “innovation” in the coup d’etat was allowing corporations to own stock in other corporations. This was forbidden prior to the Civil War years.

            I think we should just abolish them completely.

      1. attempter

        I’m still waiting to hear someone, anyone, square the alleged constitutional power over this allegedly natural market with the antitrust exemption. The Michigan decision sure didn’t. There the judge told a flat out lie of omission, pretending the exemption doesn’t exist.

        As many have pointed out, the most ironic thing about this alleged power regarding “interstate commerce” is that the federal command economic policy here has long outlawed interstate trade in health insurance.

        It hard to decide what’s most abhorrent about this Stamp mandate: its irrationality, the foregone Single Payer policy, all the pain and death the Democrats and “progressives” have inflicted here, the knock-on economic pain this will inflict, the increased police power and corporate power that it will bring, the further entrenchment of the whole corporate/government power nexus, the immorality and injustice, or the escalated assault on the Constitution.

        I just discussed it (among other things) further here:

        http://attempter.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/relocalization-and-federalism-vs-the-commerce-clause-wickard-v-filburn-and-peak-oil/

    1. Richard Kline

      There is actually a long chain of political economic study, and a good evidentiary basis supporting that pithy observation. ‘The state,’ i.e. an enduring, institutionalized government, as it developed in Europe separate from personal bureaucracies of individual monarchs was inseparable from the development of modern market capitalism. And government debt as the fulcrum for financial markets is also intrinsic to the practice of the last two centuries of capitalism. Those wanting to destroy the governments do NOT want capitalism to result. Their world would look much like the warlordism we have in parts of Africa and SW Asia.

      1. dictateursanguinaire

        This is definitely a major theme in the line of anti-authoritarian-left thought, starting with Marx…I’m reading James C. Scott’s “The Art of Not Being Governed” right now, which talks about how state power was required to integrate many nomadic groups into modern capitalism. Or how about enclosure in England? Common land was not privatized by some mystical market machinations – the state (thx Cromwell) took it and privatized it.

        Any suggestions for books or studies on this idea? Obviously a lot of anarchist thought (and Scott and his former Yale colleague David Graeber have done great “academic” works on this theme) covers this territory, and of course the idea of capitalism as being the road to fascism (markets become saturated and unprofitable, and the state must “open new markets” to keep the money flowing) in some sense goes back to Rousseau and Marx (or more recently by attempter in these comment pages.) Would like to read more about this idea, as well as any sort of rebuttals to this idea – your thoughts?

        1. attempter

          One awesome book on this is Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism.

          And the last few days especially there have rightly been a lot of citations here of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, which I regard as a kind of sequel to Origins.

        2. David Graeber

          hey thanks for the nice words about my work – I have a new book coming out soon called “Debt: The First Five Thousand Years” which bears more on the current situation.

          About which: most interesting analysis of Egypt and neoliberalism I’ve read has been about microcredit. The whole “the world’s poor will be saved by low-interest loans” line – one of the mainstays of global neoliberal – has been dissolving away along with the credit crisis, most recently with a mass outbreak of debt suicides in South Asia. Most people don’t realize though that Egypt, in massively cutting social services, had also substituted a regime of cheap credit to draw the poor into “the market” – people of course then went into debt whenever relatives got sick or needed a proper education, and since they had no possessions to repossess, the enforcers turned out to be the police, who then came to break your legs. The confluence between a labor movement and anti-police brutality movement makes a lot of sense then. I’ve had friends from Egypt confirm this was definitely a factor. The army’s role was curiously ambivalent because they own a good chunk of the economy, including most of the old-fashioned social industries, the sector opposed to the new supercharged union-busting foreign-investment-seeking debt-powered race-to-the-bottom industries. So it’s not surprising the police were on one side and the army on the other.

          1. Edward Lowe

            David,
            Are you writing about the microcredit problems in your new book? I have been looking for material on this for my urban poverty class … my students tend to be pickled in neoliberal boosterism and am looking for sound critiques of the Saint Younis school of Economics.

          2. Richard Kline

            So David, yes I’ve followed this issue as well, but I’ll make a distinction. Microcredit properly termed is like any other good use of credit; a sound lender assessing a viable borrower for a defined and achievable purpose. That’s what the concept was initiated for, and it has worked often, but it requires a neutral lender. What has replaced actual microcredit should more accurately be termed ‘mass loansharking.’ Perceiving an opportunity, criminal lenders have made available small sums, but on bad terms, regardless of the soundnes of borrowers, with the explicit goal of achieving a gray economy of debt bondage. Government regulation should explicitly prevent this and criminalize practictioners, but as in Egypt it _was_ the agents of government who were organized as the factors to push and shark the poison pill loans. “Your body is your collateral,” was the [literal] money quote I read in a recent article on Egypt, whose author I regrettably cannot at the moment recall.

            It’s important, I think, to call this poisonous scam loansharking or the like, not microcredit: words matter. What stands out for me about it, however, is that far from preventing it, corrupt governments, or more typically their moneied cronies, _actively promote debt exploitation_ as a means of social control of the poor. And THAT is neoliberalism at its very core: pseudo-capitalism but actual serfdom for the poor and middle clase, perpetrated by the small monied elite to politically insulate the tiny inner oligarchy. It’s just like pushing unaffordable mortgages and universally pre-approved high-interest credit cards in developed or developing economies. These were pursued not just in the US, for example, but in, say, Turkey. And Iceland. And Hungary. Places where folks really didn’t understand the insidious nature of the products but where many are not reduced to endebted or credit-redlined serfdom: even when the ‘loan’ is lost, the larger goal of the oligarchy—social control through debt and demoralization—is achieved. This is why debt-on-bad-terms inducing policies need to be criminalized and ended. It isn’t really about the money, it’s about engineering a society more readily controlled by oligarchical financial power centers.

          3. Stelios Theoharidis

            That is one of the big misconceptions regarding Micro-credit the loans are not actually low interest. They may be when comparing them to a loanshark but they are still quite high compared to western standards ~30%.

            http://microfinance.cgap.org/2008/06/20/why-do-microcredit-interest-rates-vary-so-dramatically-around-the-world/

            The mistake at least in my interpretation is the classic problem of development. Western educated, urban, relatively wealthy individuals create organizations and institutions to provide microcredit be staffed and maintained by them. They extract costs in interest rate payments as well as taking money from international donors to maintain their standard of living while helping the poor. But it turns out to be the same type of relationship with the institution that they formerly had with other lenders, they use them as a safety-net when negative circumstances arrive against external shocks, etc.

            The more effective micro-credit model is the savings and lending groups. How this works is instead of creating a institution to be the intermediary, women’s groups of 15+ are taught how to pool money and lend to each other. They receive the benefit of the interest and not the microcredit institution. All the money is recycled back into their group. Then they, not relatively affluent western or urban elite, are hired to replicate this model in other areas. So rather than an institution delivering the good, the individuals are trained to produce and deliver the good themselves.

        3. Richard Kline

          One text I recommend is the three volumes of Braudel’s _Civilisation and Capitalism, 15t-18th Century_. It’s a huge read, and doesn’t directly address this issue, but it’s a ripping good read, will build up your background on the development of capitalism, and does in fact show that capitalism _could not_ have developed in the modern sense except in tandem with the state.

          Immanuel Wallerstein has some good texts and essays, if from a more specific position. Paul Tioxin in a comment will below in this thread has a linke to Wallerstein’s website. In the larger sense, though, you have to dig into academic mongraphs on social history and social economics. The work is all there but diffused over a wide body of published literature.

          1. Cedric Regula

            Whenever someone asks for a book recommendation my ears always perk up.

            First, I’ll qualify myself and note that I’m absolutely horrible with this socio-poly sci stuff and I’m still trying to figure out what neoliberal, neoconservative, or neolibertarian means. Besides that they are all “new”. That I get. And not “new” in the sense that we did ’em yesterday or last week, but “new” relative to either the history of the USA or maybe the entire world to give it a bit of wiggle room.

            But I have had this feeling most of my adult life that some dark, shadowy, dangerous thing has been following me around and, if I’m not watching, it sneaks up and humps my backside.

            Whatever that is, I don’t like it.

            But back to books.

            Since I have AD syndrome when reading about serious socio-poly sci stuff, I go for the books that carry the “fiction” disclaimer because these are much more fun.

            One very worthwhile work is The Baroque Cycle series by Neal Stephenson. It’s 3000 pages covering the Eurozone and not so Great Britain from around 1650-1750. There was an unbelievable amount of stuff going on then. Everything from Newton to Barbary Coast Pirates to Amsterdam as the precursor to Wall Street. As to the Cromwell issue, I think that went: Cromwell beheaded Charles I, Charles II fled to France, then finally returned and beheaded Cromwell. “Head on a stick” is not just a modern figure of speech.

            The Black Plague hit London during this period and everyone that wasn’t dead already fled to the countryside. It wasn’t covered in the novel whether that had anything to do with property rights.

            The author claims he spent 7 years writing the series and much of that time was spent researching an enormous amount of history from the period. He does warn he uses artistic license, so I cross check things with wiki before believing anything too much.

            It reads something like a cross between Dickens, Marx, and what Warren Buffet’s daughter may write, if they were as crazy as Stephenson. But I don’t know a whole lot about those people either, so I could be wrong about that analogy.

            Warning: Lots of spicy stuff in the book too. Syph is known as the French Pox in England, and as the English Pox in France. Don’t know if that’s historically accurate or not. Could have just been Stephenson trying to be funny. :)

  2. Richard Kline

    I would add, as noted by the author of the lengthy piece linked to by Yves, that the neoliberal devolution of national economies isn’t limited to Egypt but widespread, pursued with varying success in many countries. Vulnerable countries in the Second and developing world with autocratic and repressive governments have been more successful in implementing these kinds of crony capitalist political economic regimes than mature industrial democracies thus far; Mexico and Thailand come to mind. Industrial capitalist countries have organized labor and multiple political parties which impede the process to varying degrees. Neoliberal crony capitalism will be its own death because a ‘piss down the pain, rake up the money, externalize the costs’ program rots a society down to nothing. But it can waste the lives of a generation or two before the bottom falls out of the sack: better to overthrow it not, not later.

    What is striking about such ‘creeping neoliberal’ states in my view is how weak their security apparatuses are relative to more historical quasi-aristocratic extractive economy or agriculturalists states. Neoliberals have the delusion that their program is widely beneficial rather than sucking up all wealth to less than 10% of the population, so there’s the idea that the probram will be ‘widely supported.’ And of course since it’s supposed to be profitable—for the society as a whole it isn’t, but because all the money is pooled in few hands there’s large, liquid pools of it to deploy—such societies can always mail $400 dollar rebate checks (Bush fils bribe to the electorate to vote him in), or the $3500 per person the King of Arabia is talking about handing around to his idle serfs as ‘shut up, stupid’ money. So the repressive apparatus of the state like TSA scare-and-gropers or our rather overfunded and under-planned domestic security in the US don’t really have the muscle or intent to repress. So they crumble when the citizens stand up. Which is good, I guess, this handlessness by the greedheads who’ve warped our society . . . .

    1. readerOfTeaLeaves

      FWIW, I’d also seen this article at Al Jazeera and thought it very insightful, particularly in making clear that for neoliberals, the main and only role of government is to assure ‘markets’.

      Thanks to Yves for highlighting the article, which I agree synchs (almost eerily) with Stoller’s recent guest post.

      Part of what struck me about the article, also, was how well it synched with Econned’s analysis of the problems with economic ideology and pseudo scientific mantras; the author pointed to a lot of quantitative methods the neoliberals were using to justify their policies. There was a striking absence of qualitative data in the Egyptian (and neoliberal) strategies.

      Also agree that the author’s observation in the AJ article about the fact that the Egyptian economy wasn’t floundering as a result of ‘corruption’ per se, the system itself **is** deeply corrupting; corruption and wealth concentration are in its DNA.

  3. jh

    Neoliberalism? Really? Seems to me the Egyptian revolt
    was and is a movement to oust the entrenched mafia. Enough of
    the old man and his lads. The “shock is on” and what
    evolves going forward is the real struggle.
    The vacuum is littered with ideology and suasion.

      1. craazyman

        I was talking with a woman in my office about that yesterday. She’s originally from Russia and she hates the oligarchical rape that happened there. But she also hated the Communistic rape. She’s glad she’s here.

        She told me about a joke popular in Russia. God says to a man that he’ll grant him his wildest dream, but on the condition that everyone else gets twice what he gets. So he says, “God, poke out one of my eyes.”

        I made the observation that the Russian oligarchs don’t shy away from murder and bloodshed to get what they want. But ours would not even think to get into a fistfight. Their mastery of the system achieves the rape and murder as a financial abstraction. They own the slaughterhouse, but they don’t work the blades like the Russians.

        We joked it was like Stolichnya vs. Bud Lite. But maybe we’ll get our Stoli American style yet. Time will tell.

        I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll have to relive the 20th century all over again.

        1. Mr. Incognito

          There’s another variation on that story. There was once a man named Vladimir who had a broke down nag. By contrast his neighbor, Ivan, had a strong young mule that helped him greatly on his farm. One day Vladimir’s nag dies and poor Vladimir has to gather all his possessions and take them out to town to get a new mule. As he’s going to town, he sees a lamp and picks it up, hoping to add it to his cargo. He buffs the lamp and suddenly a genie appears to Vladimir. The genie is effuse in his graditude and tells Vladimir that he will grant Vladimir ANYTHING he wants. Vladimir thinks for a few minutes and then says: “I want Ivan’s mule to die.”

        2. Richard Kline

          So craazyman, that joke is sooo Russian. And I might add that the reason that a quasi-despot like Putin is so popular in Russia, and largely he is, is that he got rid of the oligarchs; and did it without bringing the Communists back in. That is a notice of opportunity to political factions in the US: whoever knocks back the oligarchy here will be wildly politically popular for a generation. That is why Obama is such a world historical mook, but also an indication of the puerile idiocy of the Tea Potters, who think they’ll get political leverage screaming about immigrants rather than oligarchs.

          And concerning reliving the 20th century all over again, friend we haven’t even _left_ it yet: that’s the large part of the problem. The number on the dial is just a number, but the era hasn’t rolled over just yet. But I can feel it moving, underneath my feet . . . .

          1. NaluGirl

            The immigrants were last year’s scapegoats, this year’s are the public unions. Anything to keep peoples’ minds off of those who really are to blame.

  4. Perfect Stranger

    The Egyptian popular unrest hardly can be called revolution, the army and old structure of power are still intact. It it too early to tell what will be outcome of the uprising. It is up to the people to maintain pressure on the junta to extract and materialize its demands.

    However, the significance of the events in Egypt and Tunisia (Libya and Bahrain the events are unfolding) is that this is the first popular uprising in countries where governments/ruling elite – intertwined in global network of oligarchy – subjugated (or forced) own citizens and national economy to Washington Consensus policy, euphemistically called Structured Adjustment Policy; or, much better known under name as Shock Doctrine popularized by the author of book with the same title: Naomi Klein. The abovementioned countries have gotten “clean bill of health” from IMF/WB, even in the eve of uprising.

    Even NYT spotted that:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/business/23views.html

    That significance of the events in MENA countries can’t be overrated.

    Neo-liberalism is an utopian project. But by employing that benign term (same with Soviet communism, which was the imperial project) one might get impression of the benevolent (IMF’s infamous “poverty reduction”) intentions of the IMF/WB, which is under direct control of the US Treasury; and they are anything but well-indended, they are chief cause of poverty and dependency. They destroy that idea of self sustainability in its inception, in addition they are major threat to the environment and the nature.

    http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/717/the-revolution-against-neoliberalism

    1. Richard Kline

      So Perfect, you are both right and wrong in my view. The Revolution _has_ happened, but changing policy doesn’t happen over night. Just as one example, it was three years before the French Revolution passed the no-return point, and ten before the government structure was irrevocably overhauled. The democracy advocates and protestors of all stripes in Egypt are _intensely aware of this_, and in it for the long haul. We will many tos and fros over the next few years, and definitely expect a counter-revolutionary push, if not necessarily a putsch, along the way. A threshold may be passed in a few days for a change that takes a decade to secure; that’s history . . . .

  5. Thomas Williams

    Replying to Richard Kline’s response:

    Richard, I don’t mean to be abusive but are you nuts? They don’t crumble, they have to brought down. Sadly the uprisings don’t happen until there is nothing left to salvage.

    A simple look at Mexico for the last 300 years shows how long these horror shows can limp along. The trajectory of the US for the last 40 years will put us in the same boat in short order.

    Tom

    1. DownSouth

      It always frustrated him [the historian Carroll Quigley] that each nation, including our own, regards its own history as unique and the history of other nations as irrelevant to it.
      ▬Harry J. Hogan

      A wise man learns from his experience; a wiser man learns from the experience of others.
      ▬Confucius

    2. DownSouth

      Thomas,

      If you’re interested in neoliberalism in Mexico, there’s a new film that is opening today here in Queretaro called Presunto Culpable.

      Here’s the trailer in Spanish and here’s the trailer with English bylines.

      Since people never accept neoliberalism voluntarily, it is necessary to impose it upon them with the use of violence. This requires a police state. The criminal justice system must therefore be folded into a “security state” where the goal of law enforcement is no longer to produce law abiding citizens, but to wage “war” on the nation’s citizens. People seem to lose sight of the fact that the goals of law enforcement are quite different from those of war. The purpose of criminal justice is to induce compliance of the citizenry with the law. War is to defeat an enemy so as to coerce the defeated to submit to your will. Under neoliberalism’s prescripts, the criminal justice system takes on the latter function. So in the United States the neoliberals have conducted a succession of these wars on the American people, such as the War on Communism, the War on Drugs and the War on Terrorism. In Mexico it was President Felipe Calderon, who came to power in a blatantly fraudulent election, who first began using the rhetoric of a “War on Drugs.” None of these wars have anything to do with the stated objectives, but with implementing a domestic police state and terrorizing the population into submission.

      Impunity is the name of the game when the goals of criminal justice get co-opted by the goals of the neoliberal security state. It is necessary to send a message to the people that they can be arrested and held arbitrarily, for no reason whatsoever. The police powers of the state become absolute. Political dissidents are jailed, most frequently on trumped up charges. The very raison d’être of the criminal justice gets turned on its head so that its very goal is corruption, no longer to serve and protect the people or render justice, but to be the enforcement arm of the neoliberal security state by whatever means are necessary.

      The result is a two-tiered criminal justice system: laissez faire for the neoliberal overlords, and a brutal, don’t-give-a-shit police state for everybody else.

      Of course when people don’t get justice in the courts, what you get is street justice. And that’s what is currently happening in Mexico. The criminal mafias have every bit as much, and maybe even more, legitimacy, and a popular base of support from which to operate from, than the Mexican government.

      1. Parvaneh Ferhadi

        I would think that the distinction between a neo-liberal government and the mafia is somewhat blurred since both are interested in profits, wielding power and have no respect for the law. So maybe the two have fused at least partially. Of course, they maintain the story of this-side/that-side of the law it makes for a better deception.
        Just consider where all the drugs and prostitutes for the bankers and politician come from (i.e. who provides them).

        1. Paul Repstock

          ertainly crime and politics are connected. It is a symbiotic relationship. Each can scarcly function without the other. Without laws there would be no profit in crime, and without criminals there would be little justification for government??? The ultimate; good cop/ bad cop routine.

          Also, they have leverage over each other. The government essentially controls money flows (mountains of cash are quite useless). And organized crime knows where the money goes to, and how to get it there by untracable means.

        2. gepay1

          I think Peter Dale Scott’s paradigm of ‘Deep Politics is a useful view. Here is an example from Demaris ‘Captive City’

          From the moment of its incorporation as a city in 1837, Chicago has been systematically seduced, looted, and pilloried by an aeonian horde of venal politicians, mercenary businessmen, and sadistic gangsters. Nothing has changed in more than a century and a half. The same illustrious triumvirate performs the same heinous disservices and the same dedicated newspapers bleat the same inanities. If there has been any change at all, it has been within the triumvirate itself.
          In the beginning, the dominant member was the business tycoon, whether it be in land speculation, railroads, hotels, meat packing, or public utilities, Pirates like Potter Palmer, Phillip Armour, George Pullman, Charles T. Yerkes, and Samuel Insull fed the city with one hand and bled it dry with the other.
          Around the turn of the century, with the population explosion out of control, the politician gained the upper hand over his partners in the coalition. It remained for the gangster to complete the circle in 1933 following the murder of Mayor Cermak. Today it is nearly impossible to differentiate among the partners – the businessman is a politician – the politician is a gangster – the gangster is a businessman.
          Or another view of Chicago from a street type philosoher –
          “Who is responsible for the powerful Chicago rackets which have blighted business, looted the treasuries of labor unions, padded public contracts, made puppets of policemen, cowed the courts, maimed and murdered with immunity? It is not a dark mystery which cannot be solved. Yet exasperated citizens are repeatedly asking – why are not these rackets smashed and the racketeers put in jail? The answer is that racketeers are useful to certain men favorably situated in business, in politics, a portion of the press, and even in some of the professions. It is only when the racketeer becomes too strong and gets out of hand that the cry is raised by privileged persons that the racketeer must go.”
          Lightnin’ (June 1940)
          Now where did Obama enter politics?
          The meshing of Turkey’s military controlling the heroin traffic coming from Afghanistan and trafficking on to Europe is another example. Or Pakistan’s ISI using Dawood Ibrahim – On March 12, 1993, Bombay (now called Mumbai) experienced 13 explosions in a coordinated attack, of which the most significant target was the Bombay Stock Exchange, which killed roughly 50 people. The total number of dead was 257, with roughly 1,400 other injured. Dawood Ibrahim was believed to have coordinated the attacks. Ibrahim is known for extensive ties to Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda,[27] has financed operations of the Lashkar e Toiba (LeT),[28] and was believed to be hiding out in Pakistan.[29] The 1993 Bombay bombings were “organised by Dawood Ibrahim under pressure from the Inter-Services Intelligence of Pakistan.”[30] In 2007, the ISI was reported to have taken Ibrahim and his top lieutenant into custody from the Pakistan-Afghan border.[31]- S Balakrishnan, Dawood, Tiger Memon in ISI custody. The Times of India: August 7, 2007:
          http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2260818.cms
          Dadwood now splits his time between Dubai and Pakistan.
          Or Indian elites using these same kinds of gangsters to clear a slum they want to develop or pressure Bollywood.
          but I especially liked the – Today it is nearly impossible to differentiate among the partners – the businessman is a politician – the politician is a gangster – the gangster is a businessman.
          All one needs to do is add the military-security- intelligence complex and it isn’t so odd what is happening to us in the US these days.

  6. Redgerrymander

    Neoliberalism’s game plan has been extremely well documented in Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine. I’d recommend that anyone interested in understanding fully what we’re up against here; if it can happen to a country like Argentina, which had one of the highest standards of living in the world before the putsch – it can happen anywhere.

    The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt are incredibly important because they are the first successful popular uprisings against neoliberalism.

    That their message has been picked up by protesters in Wisconsin points to its universal appeal as well as the power of peer-to-peer communications to circumvent the firewall of MSM orthodoxy.

    When the roles of Al Jazeera, Wikileaks and Anonymous in these revolutions are also considered, are we seeing the first major skirmishes in the “guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation” that Marshall McLuhan predicted? Interesting times indeed.

    1. Paul Repstock

      What the people of Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana (not to mention the rest of the developed world) need to learn from the Egyptians, is the sense of solidarity (colour blindness). This is not a partisan struggle. It is not Red or Blue, or black/white/brown/yellow. It is a struggle for the very definition of being human.

      More and more human society resembles a bee hive. If this structure becomes institutionalized, as it nearly is, then there will be no further growth for mankind.

  7. Peripheral Visionary

    To be blunt, I think the enemies of neo-liberalism are projecting their own views here (just as a good many people, without much knowledge of the Egyptian people or their culture, have been projecting their own views onto the Egyptian revolution). The author admits any Egyptian implementation of neo-liberal doctrines is significantly deficient; so why is he so convinced that Egypt’s situation is a direct result of them? Particularly problematic, and entirely unmentioned, is the fact that other countries with the same level of poverty and despair, and that are undergoing precisely the same kind of unrest, do not have even a whiff of neo-liberalism about them – most notably Libya.

    1. IMF Hearts Libya

      New York Times:”Less than two weeks ago, the International Monetary Fund’s executive board, its highest authority, assessed a North African country’s economy and commended its government for its “ambitious reform agenda.” The I.M.F. also welcomed its “strong macroeconomic performance and the progress on enhancing the role of the private sector,” and “encouraged” the authorities to continue on that promising path.”

      By unfortunate timing, that country was Libya. The fund’s mission to Tripoli had somehow omitted to check whether the “ambitious” reform agenda was based on any kind of popular support….”

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/23/business/23views.html

    2. Perfect Stranger

      It appears that you are poorly informed, or simply not interested, however not knowing or lack of it isn’t an excuse.

      Few key words from this report which are the tenets of neoliberal economic policy which is fancy word for old colonialism.

      http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pn/2011/pn1123.htm

      “Export earnings…”
      “Privatize banks and develop nascent financial sector…”
      “Structural reforms…”
      “Directors agreed that the dinar’s peg to the Special Drawing Rights…”

      It is puzzling that country with $70 billion of the oil export and 6 million population is impoverished. Where is the money?

      Libya or Colonel al-Gaddafi is one of the largest shareholders in Italian Unicredit bank and used to be shareholder of car-maker Fiat (not sure now), he used to own Italian football club. This is what I know, what kind of deal he makes with another lunatics his friend Silvio Berlusconi is unknown and remain to be seen…

      http://www.economist.com/node/8765087

    3. dave

      Because people view crises as a chance to justify and promote their own political beliefs. And so corrupt government dictatorship in Egypt = we should all pay 50%+ income taxes, nationalize half our industries, and all be required to join a union we may or may not like simply to have the right to work.

      There are plenty of countries with freer economies that implement aspects of what the author calls neoliberalism that work just fine. Singapore and Hong Kong have lower taxes. Many countries have robust school choice. The US isn’t even at the top of many business freedom indexes anymore, we hear the evils of deregulation but I doubt the overall regulation level has gone down much. Its simply that powerful industries and groups rewrote regulations to serve their interests. And yet we are told any attempt to break up powerful and abusive government institutions means the US will turn into Somalia or Egypt, even though the people of Egypt just rallied to break down a powerful and corrupt government.

        1. Redgerrymander

          I think he’s using an example to make his point. To paraphrase:

          1) Leaving aside that the dictator in question was a US-backed lackey who dutifully implemented neo-conservative ‘reforms’ that made him a billionaire while throwing most of his countrymen in extreme poverty, this had nothing to do with ideology but is rather the natural order of things in the darker corners of the globe.

          2) Those who oppose this view are evil SOCIALISTS who are plotting to take away our freedoms, steal all of our money and then use evil unions to steal our jobs.

          I think this is a perfect example of how “people view crises as a chance to justify and promote their own political beliefs” don’t you?

      1. DownSouth

        It’s amazing how neoliberals one moment tout Egypt as a glowing example of the wonders of neoliberalism, and in the very next breath deny it’s neoliberal.

        That Egypt wasn’t neoliberal is about as believable as this comment of yours from a thread yesterday:

        I still see unions as violent racist thugs whose real enemies aren’t managers and capital, but the poorest and most downtrodden of our society.

        Of course I know that you neoliberals, like all religous fundamentalists, don’t live in the same world the rest of us do, but “create your own reality.”

        1. dave

          Its amazing that your quote comes straight from my own personal life experience growing up in a union household, and yet its an example of “not living in the same world as the rest of us”.

          I’ve seen the phrase neoliberalism thrown around a lot. People assign completely contradictory facets to it. They claim historical philosophical leaders that would be in complete opposition to each other both support it. Really, neoliberalism has come to mean, “whatever I don’t like”. Thus a dictator thug who used the power and violence of the state to enrich himself by plundering resources, promoting government backed monopolies, and accepting bribes in lieu of strong property rights becomes a champion of limited state power and free markets.

          You can’t claim something is all about limiting government power and promoting individual rights and then also claim its all about using government power and overriding the rights of the people.

          1. Sufferin' Succotash

            “You can’t claim something is all about limiting government power and promoting individual rights and then also claim its all about using government power and overriding the rights of the people.”

            Why not? Conservatives using neoliberalism as a fig-leaf do it all the time.

          2. DownSouth

            The rub is that I actually did grow up in a union household and spent a lifetime supervising blue collar workers. So you can’t blow smoke up my ass. It’s not the simplistic little black and white world that you portray.

            And as far as you and Peripheral Visionary’s little song and dance routine about Egypt not being neoliberal, I’m reminded of Inspector Clouseau and the “That is not my dog!” routine.

            Unfortunately for neoliberals, however, deniability isn’t that easy. It hasn’t been that long ago since they were parading their pooch around the dog show as if he were God’s gift to Canicula.

          3. dave

            Alright man, I guess you can question my entire upbringing. My Dad was a teamster, my mom was a union shop steward, and my grandfather worked as an electrician and helped organize various unions. I know what they told me, what their experiences where, and what I witnessed growing up. I’m under no obligations to provide you some kind of documentation.

      2. Sufferin' Succotash

        “Its simply that powerful industries and groups rewrote regulations to serve their interests.”

        The political implications of that don’t matter a heckuva lot, do they?

      3. Richard Kline

        Folks, ‘dave’ is one of the potted plants of the comment thread disrupters. Fine to refute his hired propaganda, but you’ll never convince him.

        And ‘dave,’ who’s paying you to sandbag blog threads? Star Chamber of Commerce? Republican Nationalzocialist Committee?? Amurricans fer Bircher Insanity??? C’mon, fess up.

      1. Doug Terpstra

        Touché!

        Peripheral visionary can discern only the vague outlines of light at the edges but nothing directly in front of her/him. He appears to suffer from macular degeneration … or maybe just willful blindness.

        It doesn’t get much clearer from your link:

        “Since 1991, the year Egypt yoked itself to an IMF structural adjustment programme and embarked on a series of wide-ranging economic reforms, the country has been something of a poster child for neoliberal economists who point to its remarkable levels of annual GDP growth as proof that “Washington consensus” blueprints for the developing world can work.”

        Libya, too, is a stellar ‘model’ of IMF development. It’s funny how the finest examples of neoliberal economics—really just fascism wrapped in Orwellian propaganda—rely on overt political bribery, authoritarian tyranny, and violence.

        What a vivid contrast Al Jazeera offers in professional journalism to our own disgraceful MSM stenographers and propagandists. The revolution sweeping the ME is as much Al Jazeera’s as it is FaceBook’s.

    4. dictateursanguinaire

      Nope – the nominally socialist Gadaffi has being moving towards neoliberalism for years – proving for once and for all that elites are ultimately non-ideological – whatever apparatus keeps the wheels grinding will be serviced.

      I’m sypmathetic to Austrian and “true libertarian” (e.g. Lew Rockwell crowd) arguments but the near-100% rate of “privatization” and “liberalization” ending up in increase in poverty, inequality and plutocracy makes me highly suspicious.

      Russ/Attempter made a comment here recently to the effect that left/right distinctions are meaningless and the only really meaningful dichotomy is democracy vs. elitism or something to that effect…I really think it’s time to tease the libertarian types out, because many of them (Hayek, Friedman, von Mises) have openly or implicitly declared support for “free market dictatorships” (actually, I think Hayek originated the phrase) and I really think we have to question that sort of argument.

      1. F. Beard

        I’m sypmathetic to Austrian and “true libertarian” (e.g. Lew Rockwell crowd) arguments … dictateursanguinaire

        So was I till I learned many of them are (hypocritically) in favour of a government backed gold standard.

        Furthermore, they claim to understand the evil of fractional reserve lending but propose no restitution. Their idea of curing an economy is a depression to purge the “malinvestments”. If only it would purge their jobs first they might reconsider such things as justice.

        I am very disappointed in that crowd.

        1. Paul Repstock

          By definition: every “Individual” is a NIMBY. It has to be that way fb. The huge fly in the ointment is that very few people will extend the same right to others. For lack of willingness to compromise, we construct governments to impose order from chaos. We are too stupid and narrow minded to comprehend that a ‘negotiated’ settlement would in aggregate benifit everyone more than the ‘imposed’ settlement will benifit the few. And that this could be accomplished without the pain and suffering, and without the instability we constantly experience.

  8. Sufferin' Succotash

    I’m sure the folks at BP, Exxon Mobil, Occidental Petroleum, ENI, Royal Dutch Shell, and Gazprom would be interested to know that there’s no neoliberalism in Libya.

  9. Paul Tioxon

    This is telling us just how insufficient the media has been, operating within the cultural milieu of Neo-Liberalism. It had no perspective with which to view a historical process that it was a part of. Theoretical work, up to date and not referring to ideas from over a century ago has benn welcomed in countries outside the US that needed to have real solutions for their nations. This global system provided a world wide economic system, but more importantly, a political consensus that has provided the reasonableness that allowed for ongoing stability. The militant right wing extremists who reached for state violence as the first and virtually only reaction, were marginalized, not as just crude, simple minded, but completely unnecessary in the face ow tremendous wealth expansion and political power sharing. The wealth extraction that most people understand, was concisely portrayed in the movie Wall Street in 1987. This easy to digest formula unlocks what the manipulation of capital, for the sake of manipulating capital to no enterprise forming purpose is all about, wealth extraction or looting.

    Egyptian workers were interviewed on MSNBC discussing a some sort of machinery factory, sold off to foreign investors, where they worked for months without getting paid. The vast array of people in Tahir Square, middle age unpaid factory workers, women, western dressed and covered up. Very young men and not so, all showed grievances beyond having a strong, vehement difference of opinion. The analysis showing Mubarak’s family, headed up by his son, the investment banker trained on Wall St, using various investment hedge fund strategies to possess state owned factories and other valuable productive assets, made it clear that even well educated middle class businesses were running into ruinous investment groups that were stripping them of opportunity to build up a corporate career in their own country. Similarly, around the world the Neo Liberal formula has been clearly identified, and rejected by some of its victims, notably Putin’s Russia. The American “Free World” is contracting as the nations of Earth choose to be free from America. Just as America was the New World, from a European expansionist perspective, the New Free World is taking apart the other side of the Iron Curtain. First the Berlin Wall fell now, now, the American Wall St is falling down, and it can’t get up. The wild swings are charting volatility that is unmanageable, creating a period of discontinuity that is theoretically beyond the predictability of Neo Classical econometric models. Money, has gone from the gold standard, a commodity based system to simply a means of exchange, to a non corporeal entity, that exists only as digital records. There is so much business, that to clear all of the checks, and to count all of the paper, would clog commerce in America to a near stand still. This actually happened, when all air flight was grounded during the 9/11 panic. This lead the Congress mandated Check 21 electronic clearing system for our banks, who had previously, chartered jets with sacks full of paper checks to haul them back and forth to various Federal Reserve banks. Now, money has completed its transformation into a disembodied quantified idea, and nothing more, what it had always been: a culturally learned construct, no different than a natural language used to bind society together. This fast as light mobility of capital is accelerating the social change caused by Neo Liberralism. What Jihad could not do, the people using the same technology that was stripping the valuable assets from the nations did in a matter of weeks. The militant extremists of Islam could not capture that governments of the Arab world, as quickly as the economic pressures of capitalism. A valid theoretical analysis should explain and make sense out of world events. Prediction may be important for weather forecasters, but simply agreeing on what we are all seeing together is necessary for a plan of action, once political power is consolidated. Here is a video that provides a strong capacity for describing and thereby explaining the situation we are in:

    http://www.iwallerstein.com/the-origins-and-outcomes-of-the-global-economic-crisis/

  10. Schofield

    The anthropologist Christopher Boehm’s book “Hierarchy in the Forest” will tell you that Neo-Liberalism (Libertarianism) has been in many of the ape species (bonobos’s much less so) including our own for many millions of years. Alpha apes engage in Alpha-Chauvinism the equivalent of Neo-Liberalism. However, the hard-wired programming to replicate the genes results in push back to Alpha-Chauvinism which Boehm calls counter-dominance. This is where non-alphas exercise various forms of “sanctioning” on the alphas up to the use of mobbing violence. With the human ape in addition to counter violence such as that currently happening in Libya work-a-rounds (negative feed-back loops) have been traditionally used such as parliamentary democracy to achieve sanctioning. Such work-a-rounds, however, are always vulnerable to counter attack by alpha-chauvinists and you arrive at such social relationship screw-ups as the “United Sachs of America.” Clearly the message Boehm is sending out to us is that we must regard human societies in systems thinking terms and deploy appropriate negative feed-back loops to achieve social harmony. For me that is one of the key messages that comes over in Yves Smith’s “Econned” book. Working out just exactly what are the top negative feed-back loops is an interesting exercise but plenty of sex with each other like the bonobos is not the answer but if you think hard enough about it here is a very strong clue.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t know if this will get me into a lot of trouble, but I think Sapolsky observed in a primate group that when the alpha males removed themselves from this world, due to some unhealthy left-over human food only the alphas were privileged to have, the result was less stress in that particular society.

      I thought I would pass this tidbit to those with a stress problem.

      1. Cedric Regula

        I did read a long time ago that the Indian government was promoting the cultivation and large scale distribution of a local aphrodisiac herb to the indigenous indian. The idea was that if the population was in a constant state of arousal, they would worry less about other things, like eating.

        Some bureaucrats idea of a practical implementation of Maslow’s triangle, I think.

        Don’t know how that turned out for them, or even if it’s relevant to this comment thread, for that matter.

        Just say’n, as the saying goes.

        But one other observation I’ve had is I haven’t seen anyone proclaim yet that “Madison is not Egypt”, like all the pundits did when we were learning about the PIIGS. This makes me think maybe there is something to that “projection” thing psychs like to tell us about.

        But I’ll reserve judgement until craazyman makes his position known on the matter.

    2. Stelios Theoharidis

      Apes don’t have the same type of accumulation and organization schemes as humans do. While apes do try to confer alpha status by rigging the game for future generations they do so in a different way. Alpha males have been known in the animal kingdom to slaughter the male offspring of the former Alpha male. I thought we got into this social contract / rule of law, mutual predictability of behavior patterns so that wouldn’t occur anymore.

      What we see in these circumstances are tribes that have benefits at the loss of the general public, the finance tribe, the pharma tribe, the lobbying tribe. Some do this through the manipulation of force (dictators) others do so through the manipulation of information. There are different layers of responsibility and identification that I am not doing justice here. But, to suggest someone is an alpha because their parent gave them a number of artificial advantages over another is a tough call.

  11. F. Beard

    People blame free markets but the most important one, money, is a government backed cartel in a government enforced monopoly money supply. That cartel benefits the banks, “credit worthy borrowers” (i.e. the rich) and government at the expense of all money holders including and especially the poor.

    And what do the poor get out of the arrangement? Ans: Supposedly jobs and better and cheaper products. Well, the poor’s own stolen purchasing power was used to send their jobs overseas so now they increasingly can’t even afford those cheaper products.

    Our banking system is rooted in fraud (fractional reserves) and based on systematic government backed theft of purchasing power and usury. Why look any further than this for the root of the problem?

    We should not fight free markets; we should insist on them in everything including and especially money.

    “The issue which has swept down the centuries
    and which will have to be fought sooner or later
    is the people versus the banks.”
    Lord Acton

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    how the one beneficiary that remains in a position of influence, the military, might play its cards…

    ————-

    That doesn’t sound very auspicious.

    Eternal Egypt…nothing changes?

  13. Lilguy

    “Neo-liberalism” is the wrong name.

    More like “neo-conservatism” or “neo-libertarism”.

    I see nothing liberal in this description of the economic polity. Sometimes labels truly mis-state their intent.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Lilguy; you are right….but, possibly neo liberalism is used merely to counterpoint that greatest of all human failings, “conservatism”. Humans are so predictable in that reguard. No matter how bad things are, humans will not rock the boat for fear of ‘things getting worse’.

      North Africa is the most wonderful refutation of this that I’ve seen in my lifetime.

      It would be nice if after these many thousands of years, mankind’s cradle could give us one more boost. Certainly the area has a historical perspective. Europeans were still living in holes in the ground when North Africa built it’s second civilization.

      1. Cedric Regula

        If memory serves, I think it was Ethiopia first, Egyptian Empire second. Then came Greece. It was either Egypt or Greece (I forget which) that were the first civilization in human history to have discovered that the earth is un-flat, and quite possibly roundish. This is not a conservative thing.

        This train of thought made me realize I have a gap in my memory with regard to the evolution of personkind. I don’t know the reason for the Fall of the Egyptian Empire. Could it have been that Greece offered lower tax rates, and induced all the “good people” to emigrate to Greece?

        Just wondering.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Greece did offer lower tax rates, but Egypt countered with negative tax rates – if you make $1 billion, the state pays you $300 million on top of that.

          Needless to say, smart invaders, sorry investors, rushed in. And that was the end of good old Egypt and the real cause, not the propaganda you have been fed about brothers marrying sisters.

        2. Paul Repstock

          True Ced…conservatism (yearning for the good old days) came later. In my memory it seems to have been a 17th century European invention. I guess they wanted to go back to living in holes in the ground.

          I always find it interesting that every ‘ism’ seems to be based on compulsion, and imposing your view on everyone else (for their own good).

  14. cc

    I feel that NAFTA (neo liberal economics-the unrestricted transfers of capital, labor and material) was the beginning of the end for Mexico and US economies.

    It destroyed Mexico’s vital rural agricultural economy with flood of imported low cost corn produced with subsidies.

    NAFTA created the ‘Maquiladoros’ –export oriented factories along the border bringing (dislocating) thousands of Mexican workers, paid at poverty levels while not providing any social services…schools…etc. Mostly shack communities…

    Very mobile, many factory operations then moved to China or other even cheaper countries and the youth population, in poverty with no opportunity, had turned to gang culture in the Maquiladoros which the cartels appropriated as armies and in this way gained a great deal of power.

    Now Mexico is nearing failed state status.

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      When the US gets to the failed-state stage maybe the current defenders of neoliberalism can find room in the wheel-wells of the private jets as they take off for the Cote d’Azur carrying the people who made the failed-state status possible. Or maybe not.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Interesting that Mexico is under Neo-Liberalism, with access to socio-political media i.e. Facebook, and yet it doesn’t appear that these are sufficient conditions for an Egypt or Tunisia like moment down south…yet.

      So, are these two conditions sufficient (needing more time perhaps) or do we need more?

      1. Sufferin' Succotash

        Mexico’s political conditions aren’t the same as Tunisia’s or Egypt’s. There’s still the lingering illusion that voting matters. Same story here, for that matter.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I take it that that would show the importance of illusion, faith and other magic tricks and distractions for the leaders of Yemen, Bahrain, Iraq, etc. if they want to hold on to their Neo-liberal power in the face of the Facebook challenge.

      2. cc

        In Mexico’s situation, the population is terrorized by drug cartels in an all out war with each other and the federales. Anyone who challenges them (media, honest government is murdered, dismembered etc..) Ciudad Juarez across from El Paso is rated the most dangerous city in the world (3,500 (reported) deaths last year) 35,000 reported deaths in the country.

        Many times, in armed conflicts, the drug cartels are better armed than the Mexican miltary. The Mexican government pleaded with the US to limit the (unlimited thru private dealers) sale of AK-47’s …the automatic weapon of choice for the cartels sourced almost entirely from the US and an emergency bill was produced.

        But our congress, at the behest of the NRA, blocked the bill.

        So I think the population is too distracted trying to navigate the horrific bloody drug cartel battles to protest the neo liberal policies that created fertile ground for the cartels to flourish.

        1. DownSouth

          It’s not really the federales vs. the cartels. It’s more complicated than that.

          The police and the federales are so inextricably intertwined that it’s often difficult to tell the two apart. Trust me, no one here trusts the police. And it doesn’t stop there. They don’t trust the prosecutors or judges either.

          A reminder of this is to be found in this report. It shows Mexico ranking #39 in crimes per 100,000 people, well below the U.S., Canada, Germany etc.

          The reason for this is not that the crime rate here in Mexico is so much lower than it is in these other countries, but because the people of Mexico distrust the criminal justice system so much that only a very small percentage of crimes ever get reported.

          If you ask a Mexican who they would trust more to render justice, the narcos or the criminal justice system, I think you’ll find they have difficulty answering that question. It’s kind of like being given the choice between hanging or the firing squad.

          1. cc

            ‘It’s not really the federales vs. the cartels. It’s more complicated than that.’

            Yes,that puts a finer point on the situation. If you are a ‘useful’ person to the cartels, you are probably offered ‘the bullet or the bribe’ and the entire authority structure is infiltrated so the population dosn’t know who is who.

            These war zone conditions do not support a population that depsperately needs economic reform and liberation from another eneo liberal imposition.

  15. And I'm.....Robert Siegel

    “Today, let’s cast our yellow eye on Nominally Public Radio, and what I propose to you is a single sentence summarizing the entire output of that magnificent edifice to cruise-missile liberalism, the whole station, all of its component programs, its entire diverse, variegated identity boiled down and then distilled into a single declarative sentence:

    Bruce Hoffman is a terrorism expert at Georgetown University.

    Lord. You can imagine where it goes from here.

    http://whoisioz.blogspot.com/2011/02/he-fixes-cable.html

  16. Sygyzy

    Neoliberalism isn’t even just the sanctity of the free markets. It also facilitates illicit financial activity and official government corruption. The money being held or laundered through global tax havens and the shadow financial global economy.

    The Global Financial initiative have shown that between 2000-2008, $57.2 bn were lost to the Egyptian economy… more than $6/y. The commercial (trade mispricing) component was $2.54bn, loss from corruption and crime was $3.8bn.

    It is estimated that half of all world trade passes through tax havens. $11.5 trillion is held ‘offshore’ by individuals causing an annual loss of tax revenue of $250bn, or 5x the amount needed by the World Bank to complete the UN Millenium goal of halving world poverty by 2015.

    It is not only the people’s of Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya who are right to be protesting against the consequences of Neoliberalism.

    1. Paul Repstock

      LOL. In comparison to numbers like those, the “Great UBS Exposure” (about $5 billion??) donesn’t look very impresive does it. Just a few dumb schmucks who had annoyed somebody and were not connected well enough to protect themselves.

  17. F. Beard

    ‘What is neoliberalism? In his Brief History of Neoliberalism, the eminent social geographer David Harvey outlined “a theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterised by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.”’ From Al Jazeera

    There can be no free market with a government enforced monopoly money supply. That is the hypocrisy of the neo-liberals. Oh, they will rail against government fiat but they merely wish to replace paper fiat with gold fiat.

    1. Paul Repstock

      It is a right wing nut thing fb. They believe that ‘their God articulated the Golden Rule (He who has the gold makes the rules). Those who suffer no doubts are truly scarry people.

      1. F. Beard

        Those who suffer no doubts are truly scarry people. Paul Repstock

        That’s true which is why their hypocrisy should be pointed out to them. Here’s another one of their hypocritical stances:

        Fractional reserve banking is evil but nothing can be done for its victims.

        However, their chief weakness is their desire for government sanction for gold. That is pure hypocrisy yet they cling to it tenaciously.

        And for those who claim to be Christian or Jew there is the Biblical prohibition on usury between fellow countrymen (Deuteronomy 23:19-20) and the commandment for debt forgiveness (Deuteronomy 15).

  18. MichaelC

    I think this is the key line in the article, emphasis on utopian:

    And the application of utopian neoliberalism in the real world leads to deformed societies as surely as the application of utopian communism did…..

    What I see happening in WI is the dawning realization that todays utopians, as ever, must be and possibly can be, restrained.

    Think people are pissed now about losing union rights, just wait till they realize how thoroughly the property rights to their key asset have been trampled by the free market.

  19. philip

    Really? Egypt’s problem is neoliberalism? Here I thought it was government corruption, government granted monopolies, and human rights repression. Good thing you guys set it straight for the record. I would be interested in knowing exactly what model you commenters are recommending that Egypt should follow to get to the first world? Spain? Greece? Are you nuts or just blinded by your unblanaced criticism of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism has its weaknesses and is often taken to far, or used as a cover for pure corruption in business and government. But what happened in Egypt (and Russia) was government cronyism turned into plain theft. Criticize the US for its faults and Egypt for its own, don’t confuse the two in your fervor.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Um, if you are saying we are running Daily Kos programming, you have that wrong. Daily Kos is still a pretty consistent supporter of Obama, we are very much critics.

    1. DownSouth

      We came here to serve God and the king, and also to get rich.
      ▬Díaz del Castillo, historian and devoted companion to Hernán Cortés

      Dedication requires not only a recompense, but a cause as well.

      Neoliberals have convinced themselves that they are doing God’s work.

      1. F. Beard

        Neoliberals have convinced themselves that they are doing God’s work. DownSouth

        Then we should ask them: Which God?

        The God of the Old Testament is against theft and usury between fellow countrymen. How then can a money system which is based on both be His will?

        It can’t. Their god sounds like Mammon.

  20. servicing paranoiac machines

    Neoliberal capitalism’s promise of “human rights” is empty. Modern man believes in nothing, Capitalism offers nothing to believe in, cynicism is its morality.

    “To put it in a nutshell: we have to be bold enough to have an idea. A great idea. We have to convince ourselves that there is nothing ridiculous or criminal about having a great idea. The world of global and arrogant capitalism in which we live is taking us back to the 1840s and the birth of capitalism. Its imperative, as formulated by Guizot, was: “Get rich!” We can translate that as “Live without an idea!” We have to say that we cannot live without an idea.”
    – Alain Badiou

    1. Chris

      First of all, whatever you were smoking when you had this epiphany, I’ll take a double gross to go please. Second, What the hell happened in 1840 that I missed? Apparently, my lack of proficiency in astronomy has to my missing the capitalism asteroid landing in France? I think we can trace capitalism, in some nascent stage to long before that. How about the good doctor Francois Quesnay (pronounced Frank Keeney)? You’d think “Alain” would have heard of the guy. By the way, Alain quotes Francois Guizot (pronounced Frank Gizzard)? Really? What did Guizot know about capitalism? Something tells me Frank Keeney should have talked to Frank gizzard. Finally, you’re wrong. Capitalism simply gives *you* nothing to believe in. You know what I believe in? Me. I like being free. It’s cool. Try it sometime.

      1. servicing paranoiac machines

        Chris said: “You know what I believe in? Me.”

        “One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.” – G. K. Chesterton

      2. attempter

        I like being free. It’s cool.

        Good! Then you must agree we should abolish all concentrated wealth and property. Anyone who’s free in his mind has no need or want of such things, and once we abolish them we’ll all be free in our bodies as well.

  21. F. Beard

    I think we should just abolish them [corporations?] completely. attempter

    That would be a pity since common stock is an [the?] ideal private money form. Not only is common stock money ethical but it requires no borrowing or lending, much less fractional reserves, and no PMs.

    The problem is not corporations but that they are allowed to finance themselves via the government backed counterfeiting cartel, the banking system.

  22. solo

    Ho, hum, it seems that folks keep rediscovering the bleeding obvious, which in more literate times was generically known as “imperialism.” The article is indeed helpful as a mnemonic contra the corporate media, whose attitude is, What, me? when it comes to the systemic nature of corporate capitalist domination. Hint: Once you see that the overall aggressor is imperialism as a system, the possibilities open to the Many are put into perspective–a very constrained perspective–while it becomes easier to identify the Few favored by Uncle Sham, viz., the “friendly native” nominees for succession approved by the “international community,” a.k.a. the Washington consensus.

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