Friday, April 27, 2018

Van Badham: Seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse

The pressing need is not to pray for intercession; Varoufakis’s call is right – “collective, democratic political action” is the genuine alternative, and it’s broader democratic investment in the institutions of parties, movements, academies and media that always builds the world to come. That is, after all, what the neoliberals did. And look – just look – how far they got.

For 40 years, the ideology popularly known as “neoliberalism” has dominated political decision-making in the English-speaking west. People hate it. Neoliberalism’s sale of state assets, offshored jobs, stripped services, poorly-invested infrastructure and armies of the forcibly unemployed have delivered, not promised “efficiency” and “flexibility” to communities, but discomfort and misery. 

The wealth of a few has now swelled to a level of conspicuousness that must politely be considered vulgar yet the philosophy’s entrenched itself so deeply in how governments make decisions and allocate resources that one of its megaphones once declared its triumph “the end of history”. It wasn’t, as even he admitted later. And given some of the events of the contemporary political moment, it’s possible to conclude from auguries like smoke rising from a garbage fire and patterns of political blood upon the floor that history may be hastening neoliberalism towards an end that its advocates did not forecast.

Three years ago, I remarked that comedian Russell Brand may have stumbled onto a stirring spirit of the times when his “capitalism sucks” contemplations drew stadium-sized crowds. Beyond Brand – politically and materially – the crowds have only been growing. Is the political zeitgeist an old spectre up for some new haunting? Or are the times more like a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “the combination of inequality and low wage growth is fuelling discontent. Time to sing a new song.” In days gone past, they used to slice open an animal’s belly and study the shape of its spilled entrails to find out. But we could just keep an eye on the news.

Here are my seven signs of the neoliberal apocalypse... read more: