Accepting It As It Is: Neoliberalism, Profit, People

Determining whether a phenomenon or movement is right or wrong is not my focal and primary unit of analysis. Instead of focusing on whether the 1% or 99% of the population benefits or suffers from Neoliberalism, a personal view of this movement is that in accordance with the development, climate and needs of contemporary society, the establishment of economic liberalization, free trade, open markets, privatization and deregulations are unavoidable.

The shift from the public to the private sector in terms of economic control did, on many occasions and in many countries, produced more efficiency and better economic health (whether temporary or permanent).

Supporters of Neoliberalism argued that the movement supports a redirection in public spending, tax reform, trade liberalization, tariff and deregulation control which can reduce restrictions and rising inflation as well as increase choices, productivity, innovation and ensure proper long term growth.

Reagan/Thatcher and Clinton/Blair, the two main neoliberalism phase in the Western world, not only improved the economical situation in their own countries but also influenced other nations such as the Neoliberal market reforms in Former Yugoslavia (Under Marokvic) and China (under Deng).

Clearly, such neoliberal market reforms allowed China to achieve rapid economic development. The success cannot be ignored nor the effects that by reducing government power, markets and industries became more important.

However, government support and allowing private sectors to gain more control means that the Neoliberal way when dealing with national, regional and international relationships will result in a fusion where corporations and governments can jointly enjoy profitable arrangements and compromises.

Often, this is when economical profit, market control and money take over the people. This leads to the opponents of Neoliberalism to argue that it subverts the nation’s self-determination, erodes production conditions and sustainability, as well as promoting exploitation, inequality and more power for corporations and upper classes.

From Daniel Brook to Ian Hudson, it was argued that high inequality is spurred by neoliberal policies. It actually produces profound political, social, economic, health and environmental constraints and problems.

On the other hand, Friedman argued that economic freedom is a condition for political freedom. This leads to the question whether or not it is the corporations that control the government, vice versa or if both play a part in such control.

Chomsky raised the point that in comparison with the commoners, the welfare of security for upper classes and large enterprises are more important. One example is the motive behind Occupy Walll Street.

Instead of using stimulus packages to improve lives for American citizens, the money was injected by the government into large banks, financial institutions and companies. It seemed that their survival and health outweighs those of the citizens who are the drive and real foundations of the nation.

Such alliances and two-way control showed that benefits and profits are mutual and that wealth, power and control don’t always trickle down to the people. The efficient invisible hands (Adam Smith) that once push nations towards economic prosperity is not guiding and controlling a stable market anymore.  No longer efficient or mutually beneficial for ALL stakeholders, it is now becoming unjust and imperfect.

It would be wrong to regard economy in Neoliberalism as separate from politics since the two are inter-related.  The struggle of neoliberalism trying to achieve equilibrium is local, social and international. Chomsky further elaborated on such links and struggles as well as the motives behind international economical collaborations.

To be blunt, the game that governments and corporations play is one, which involves manipulations, exploitations and using others in order to maximize individual control, stability and growth.

Hertz was right to notice that people are slowly waking up and realizing the true partnership between government and economy. Despite the awakening being slow, at least more and more citizens are realizing how inescapable it is for the merge of politics and industry since the possibility of having money, profit, total market control is too tempting for any government and nation to pass.

Those who are voiceless and powerless is slowly taking over and voicing their dissatisfactions. Maybe these silent forces will repeat history and the world will re-live those similar moments, many decades ago.

Last but not least, centralized control of any economic activities will always be accompanied with political repression. In The Road to Serfdom, Hayek argued that “Economic control is not merely control of a sector of human life which can be separated from the rest; it is the control of the means for all our ends.”

 

Wei Yuan Min  (Australian, Global Business Journalism Program at School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China)

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