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Re: <nettime> Guardian > Monbiot > Neoliberalism -- the ideology at
Florian Cramer on Sun, 24 Apr 2016 04:09:52 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Guardian > Monbiot > Neoliberalism -- the ideology at


   Brian,

   What you and Felix state is, no doubt, historically correct when we
   focus on the overlaps between "Austrian economics" and "ordoliberalism"
   (most importantly, their common stance against political control over
   currencies, more on that later). However, the meaning of terms often
   shifts once they become everyday language. I would argue that the
   colloquial meanings should, in doubt, be taken as the standard
   definition, even if they contradict textbooks. A good example is
   "media" whose colloquial use and understanding - as a synonym of news
   media - substantially diverges from the notion of "media" in media
   studies and media theory.

   From the time of Rüstow to that of Foucault, the term "neoliberalism"
   was only known to academics. It didn't become common language before
   Latin American political activist movements used it to attack the
   economic regimes installed in Chile in the 1970s and by the IMF in
   other countries. Their notion of neoliberalism referred to
   Chicago-school economics. When the word was re-imported into Europe in
   the early 1990s, leftist activists interpreted them as synonymous with
   Thatcherism and Reagonomics - particularly, with Thatcherist politics
   of union busting and large-scale privatization of public infrastructure
   (transport, energy, water, social services, education etc.). In
   Germany, which you cited as "the pionier" of neoliberalism,
   neoliberalism was (and still is) seen as a break with post-war social
   liberalism. Both activist literature and news media commonly juxtapose
   post-war "Rhineland capitalism" and its Fordist social consensus model
   to post-1990s Post-Fordist privatization- and precarization-oriented
   "neoliberalism".
   "
   I agree with you and Felix that, in economic terminology, this
   juxtaposition is problematic, since both types of liberalism broadly
   fall under a common school and ideology. However, an important
   historical difference is that Rüstow's "neoliberalism" was
   Third-Positionist while Hayek's position was clearly not. (Wikipedia
   claims that "In a letter Rüstow wrote that Hayek and his master Mises
   deserved to be put in spirits and placed in a museum as one of the last
   surviving specimen of an otherwise extinct species of liberals which
   caused the current catastrophe (the Great Depression)" but doesn't say
   where this letter is published or archived.) Over the course of time
   and thanks to their popularization as common language, the terms
   swapped their meaning. What is nowadays referred to as neoliberalism is
   what Rüstow was critical of.

   That said, I agree that one should not forget that both positions were
   two varieties of the same ideology. In today's political debates, it is
   often overlooked that ordoliberalism wasn't Keynesian in any way. For
   example, the establishment of a politically independent federal reserve
   bank in post-1949 West Germany, the Bundesbank, was textbook
   neoliberalism and not far from Hayek's ideas on currencies - which
   were, as we know, the 1:1 blueprint for Bitcoin. Germany's current
   austerity politics in the EU simply follow the Bundesbank model, since
   the introduction of the Euro and post-2008 quantitative easing politics
   of the ECB amounted to a nightmare for German ordoliberals (not just
   economists, but also for many Joe Sixpacks: the ECB's Euro currency
   policy kickstarted the right-wing populist AfD into existence). The
   contradiction you state, "why did Germany veer away from being a
   society oriented toward labor unions, social welfare and complete
   inclusion, to gradually become the society that promotes unequual
   competition and savage inequality on a European scale?" - isn't one in
   my view. Post-war West Germany always had an aggressive economic
   politics of large trade surpluses coupled with a strong currency that
   forced other countries to devalue their own currencies. When the Euro
   was introduced, it expected all participating countries to follow this
   model since the ECB had been modeled after the Bundesbank (and placed
   in Frankfurt, too). It still is a country with labor unions and welfare
   - while much of that got slashed or cut down after 1990, union
   influence on contract work and welfare is still relatively high
   (compared to most other countries).

   In the end, it simply seems as if the contemporary meaning of
   "neoliberalism" is the one that people have given it, even if it
   doesn't fit textbook definitions. A young student who would read
   Foucault's discussion of neoliberalism today would be partly perplexed,
   and note differences in the concept and, most importantly, reality of
   neoliberalism.

   -F

   On Sat, Apr 23, 2016 at 1:14 PM, Brian Holmes <bhcontinentaldrift {AT} gmail.com> wrote:

     It is rather astounding to me - a token of the profound laziness and
     irresponsibility of contemporary intellectuals - that people still
     be in doubt or even in complete ignorance as to what neoliberalism
     is, how it has developed, what its major doctrinal differences have
     been, how its theory has been made into practice, the role of
     technology, of the financial markets, of the military, etc. THIS IS
     YOUR LIFE, FOLKS. It's also your death due to climate change. Maybe
     study up a little? Maybe produce some arguments that can help
     others?
 <...>

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