Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Manuela Cadelli, President of Belgian Magistrates — Neoliberalism is a form of Fascism

The time for rhetorical reservations is over. Things have to be called by their name to make it possible for a co-ordinated democratic reaction to be initiated, above all in the public services.
Liberalism was a doctrine derived from the philosophy of Enlightenment, at once political and economic, which aimed at imposing on the state the necessary distance for ensuring respect for liberties and the coming of democratic emancipation. It was the motor for the arrival, and the continuing progress, of Western democracies.
Neoliberalism is a form of economism in our day that strikes at every moment at every sector of our community. It is a form of extremism.
Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology.
I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought.
The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an extent that puts the common good in jeopardy.…
Transnational corporate totalitarianism.

Defend Democracy Press
The President of Belgian Magistrates: Neoliberalism is a form of Fascism
Manuela Cadelli, President of the Magistrates’ Union of Belgium
Published in the Belgian daily Le Soir, 3.3.2016
Translated from French by Wayne Hall
ht Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism

36 comments:

Ralph Musgrave said...

I find the word neoliberal almost meaningless. Am I the only one? It's defined as a preference for free markets. But almost everyone is more pro free market than say Karl Marx. So is everyone neo-liberal?

Bob said...

It is meaningless without specifics. An obsession with austerity and deficits may be a sign of neoliberalism. Does it matter what we call it?

Tom Hickey said...

I find the word neoliberal almost meaningless. Am I the only one? It's defined as a preference for free markets. But almost everyone is more pro free market than say Karl Marx. So is everyone neoliberal?

Neoliberalism in the sense it is generally used in present context is well-defined. It's chief characteristics are 1) global liberalization as opening up markets under the rubric of spending democracy and freedom, 2) privatization of public assets and employment, and 3) deregulation of finance and business. The justification is that there is no alternative to optimizing growth and efficiency and these are the overriding objectives since everything important depends on them.

Neoliberalism is a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector. It takes from the basic principles of neoclassical economics, suggesting that governments must limit subsidies, make reforms to tax law in order to expand the tax base, reduce deficit spending, limit protectionism, and open markets up to trade. It also seeks to abolish fixed exchange rates, back deregulation, permit private property, and privatize businesses run by the state.Investopedia

Neoliberalism is the equation of political liberalism with economic liberalism.

Note that in the arguments in the UK over Brexit, neoliberals always argued in terms of economic liberalism while others like Evans-Prtichard argued it was about political liberalism — democracy and national sovereignty

Bob said...

You could refer to neoliberalism as the Washington consensus, the status quo, or the set of economic policies that are considered to be the norm. It doesn't matter what term is used because the criticism of each policy is based on its negative outcome. Where there is support for such policies, other terms are used, e.g. ordoliberalism or the "German model".

I don't agree with Matt that people are engaging in conspiracy theories when they use the term neoliberalism, but I think they are using it as shorthand for 'mainstream policies that we oppose'. That so few people choose to wear this particular label is telling.

Matt Franko said...

That's not what I am saying. I'm saying that the word is a figure of speech and hence ambiguous so hence we see Ralph not knowing exactly what it means of course he wouldn't it's ambiguous by definition...

The problem is when we start to reify the figure of speech and say things like "the neo liberals are to blame for this mess!" (I.e. "Neoliberal conspiracy!") Or things like that which MMT people are doing all the time instead of being scientific because they are not qualified for scientific analysis... "Deficit too small!" Etc....

Matt Franko said...

And hence they get NOWHERE.......

Bob said...

You are saying it's a problem - that people will use the term in the same way they use Zionism! or The Bilderbergs and the Rothschilds. Or the 1%. But neoliberal attributed policies are concrete and are open to criticism.

Andrew Anderson said...

It's defined as a preference for free markets. Ralph Musgrave

And who can disagree with that so long as the goods and services are decent?

But what's decent about legally stealing and selling the publics' credit? And how can legalized theft be a form of freedom? Is it not instead wicked license?

If the banks cannot survive as fully private businesses with fully voluntary depositors then why on Earth should they survive? Because of the need for endogenous money creation? But:

1) Equal distributions of new exogenous money (fiat) to all citizens can uniformly increase purchasing power for consumption, lending, asset buying or saving.
2) Common stock is an endogenous money form that shares wealth and power rather than concentrate them.

Neither 1) or 2) is unfair. Nor is the boom-bust cycle inherent in either.

Greg said...

Neoliberalism is no more ambiguous than "economic growth", or "structural reform" or any other number of terms thrown around in these econ blogs. Much of our language is composed of words which aren't perfectly defined and yes this is a source of much of our disagreements. Freedom and liberty are concepts which do not have a neat definition either, or at least they look different when you talk about individual liberty vs a collective liberty.

I agree that criticisms AND prescriptions need to be more specific.... which the PK/MMT cohort has been very good about when it comes to talking about "bank deposits" or "reserves" or "treasury notes" or "assets and liabilities", instead of saying money, but its not hard after all this time Matt to know what is meant by neoliberal. Its also not a conspiracy theory to think that many political leaders and finance ministers around the globe are wedded to a view of money and financial markets which is wrongheaded, destructive of middle classes everywhere and provides the necessary conditions for continued concentration of wealth.... in spite of speeches that seem to suggest they are trying to help the average worker. They are victims of group think and it is voluntary, they really believe the crap they peddle.

Andrew Anderson said...
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Andrew Anderson said...

They are victims of group think and it is voluntary, they really believe the crap they peddle. Greg

I agree. They either don't see the inherent wickedness of our current fiat and credit system or think TINA.

Btw, PK = Paul Krugman?! Mr. "Loanable Funds"? Or has he repented?

Bob said...

Post Keynesianism

Andrew Anderson said...

Ah yes, thanks Bob.

The only school I know by name is the Austrian one and I detest it.

Andrew Anderson said...

Well, I understand Keynesianism too and just find it inadequate, not detestable. I guess that's why we have Post Keynesianism.

Matthew Franko said...

Greg I generally know what we are talking about when we say "neo-liberalism" but not many people do... and my main point is that its not scientific....

Like this whole article from this Belgian lady here is a complete waste of time it does absolutely no good at all... she's just bitching about things and trying to point a finger at a cohort of people she thinks responsible... this does absolutely no good...

Andrew Anderson said...

just bitching about things and trying to point a finger at a cohort of people she thinks responsible... Franko

As if those who'll take advantage of a system that allows them to legally steal aren't a given?!

Matthew Franko said...

"Or has he repented?"

Doesnt work that way AA.... I thought you were a big fan of the OT?

Andrew Anderson said...

I'm a fan of the ENTIRE Bible since, you know, it's ALL inspired by God and often includes the Lord HIMSELF speaking? Or do you despise what God says if it happens to be in the OT?

Repent = change mind.

Greg said...

@Matt

Im not sure your criticism of her as "just" bitching and pointing fingers is on point to be honest. Here are some excerpts from her piece;


"Liberalism was a doctrine derived from the philosophy of Enlightenment, at once political and economic, which aimed at imposing on the state the necessary distance for ensuring respect for liberties and the coming of democratic emancipation. It was the motor for the arrival, and the continuing progress, of Western democracies."

So she starts with a definition that most would not argue with I imagine.
--------------------------
"Neoliberalism is a form of economism in our day that strikes at every moment at every sector of our community. It is a form of extremism."

Here, she contrasts it to the "new" form of liberalism and I cant find anything here to criticize., Our modern macro managers are indeed extremists..... extreme monetarists, extreme anti fiscalists,extreme believers in "private enterprise". When our macro world is upset its always because they didn't do one of the above or all of the above "extreme" enough. CBers dont have "enough independence", govts are getting in the way of private enterprise etc....
------------------

"Fascism may be defined as the subordination of every part of the State to a totalitarian and nihilistic ideology.
I argue that neoliberalism is a species of fascism because the economy has brought under subjection not only the government of democratic countries but also every aspect of our thought.1
The state is now at the disposal of the economy and of finance, which treat it as a subordinate and lord over it to an exte1nt that puts the common good in jeopardy."

Another definition, stating what she means, and a pretty good summation of the state of affairs today in most of the world. Would you argue that govt is NOT subordinate to finance? Would you argue that the common good is NOT in jeopardy.

---------------------------------------------
more....

Greg said...

cont....



"The austerity that is demanded by the financial milieu has become a supreme value, replacing politics. Saving money precludes pursuing any other public objective. It is reaching the point where claims are being made that the principle of budgetary orthodoxy should be included in state constitutions. A mockery is being made of the notion of public service."

BOOOOOOM I say! I would add however that she should have added "except physical security enforced by guys with weapons" to the end of her second sentence. But that is really a private objective in reality

---------------------------------------------

"There is no place any more even for classical economic theory: work was formerly an element in demand, and to that extent there was respect for workers; international finance has made of it a mere adjustment variable."

Sounds spot on to me

--------------

"The determination of citizens attached to the radical of democratic values is an invaluable resource which has not yet revealed, at least in Belgium, its driving potential and power to change what is presented as inevitable. Through social networking and the power of the written word, everyone can now become involved, particularly when it comes to public services, universities, the student world, the judiciary and the Bar, in bringing the common good and social justice into the heart of public debate and the administration of the state and the community.
Neoliberalism is a species of fascism. It must be fought and humanism fully restored."

Here she gives us a solution....... people power. Is there any other way? First we have to point out the problem. The leaders have told us for 8 years "we" are the problem, for wanting to work to little for too much pay, for being a cost to our job creators, for not taking care of ourselves and daring our health care resources (some truth), for lying to get loans (rather than being told our incomes dont really matter that much, price appreciation will make it all okay!!) and for caring about our relative place in society. The truth is THEY, and their ideas, are the problem. It needs to be repeated and repeated and repeated....

Andrew Anderson said...

The truth is THEY, and their ideas, are the problem... Greg

Not entirely. IF we had an ethical fiat and credit creation system THEN what they say might be applicable.

BUT our fiat and credit creation system is NOT ethical and NEVER has been ethical, at least not in the US since its founding.

The problem is that those who purport to be for the victims are not interested in fundamental reform but instead tweaking the system to perpetuate it.

And thus the wicked system lives on though it has literally killed millions of us (eg the Great Depression and WWII) and threatens to kill even more.

"Ya can't cheat an honest man" is surely true to some extent.

Bob said...

I agree with Greg. This is a useful article.
Bill Mitchell uses descriptors like "neoliberal infestation" and his articles always delve into the specifics.

Tom Hickey said...

In a vary basic sense "neoliberalism" now means formulating policy chiefly or exclusively in terms of the prevailing state of neoclassical economics.

Liberalism is taken to be identical with economic liberalism as understood in terms of neoclassical economics aka marginalism, whose fundamental assumptions are methodological individualism, rational optimization and general equilibrium based on minimizing the input of government economically through privatization, deregulation and fiscal discipline.

Neoliberalism views the extent of government involvement in the economy as through the central bank setting money policy.

Regarding fiscal policy the chief argument is whether governments should balance the budget in all periods or over a business cycle.

Andrew Anderson said...

Regarding fiscal policy the chief argument is whether governments should balance the budget in all periods Tom Hickey

Patently absurd since deficit spending (including welfare and equal fiat distributions to all adult citizens) by the monetary sovereign is the ONLY proper way to create fiat.

or over a business cycle.

Also absurd since the fiat supply should grow to account for population increases and economic growth so as to not enslave the young to the old and to not reward risk-free money hoarding.

Schofield said...

I thought Neo-Liberalism was an umbrella term for political and economic ideology that was good for the well-being of a minority but not a majority. Raymond Plant in his 2012 book "The Neo-liberal State" defined Neo-Liberal ideology as essentially unworkable Libertarianism.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Neo-liberal-State-Raymond-Plant/dp/0199650578/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1468426418&sr=1-1&keywords=Raymond+Plant

Ralph Musgrave said...

Andrew Anderson,

You say "But what's decent about legally stealing and selling the publics' credit?" If by that you mean that the money created / printed by private banks is a counterfeit version of the state's money (base money) then I agree. As the French economics Nobel laureate, Maurice Allais put it:

“In reality, the ‘miracles’ performed by credit are fundamentally comparable to the ‘miracles’ an association of counterfeiters could perform for its benefit by lending its forged banknotes in return for interest. In both cases, the stimulus to the economy would be the same, and the only difference is who benefits."

Allais (like Milton Friedman and a couple of other economics Nobel laureates) advocated a ban on privately issued money, and having base money as the only form of money.

Tom Hickey said...

The key difference between neoliberalism and Libertarianism is that Libertarians are anti-state while neoliberalism are anti-state in certain areas but not areas that favor business and finance. They for legislation and regulation that favor the interests of the ownership class. For example, neoliberalism is fine with bailing out the financial system in crises as "in the national interest."

Andrew Anderson said...

If by that you mean that the money created / printed by private banks is a counterfeit version of the state's money (base money) then I agree. Ralph Musgrave

A fundamental flaw in the US Constitution is the failure to provide a risk-free accounting and transaction service for its fiat (base money) for ALL citizens, their businesses, etc.; instead leaving the citizenry to deal with private banks or else be limited to unsafe, inconvenient physical fiat (bills and coins).

Unprincipled "fixes" like government-provided deposit insurance were a step in the wrong direction.

Allais (like Milton Friedman and a couple of other economics Nobel laureates) advocated a ban on privately issued money,

An unprincipled "solution" since private money, so long as it is not used or otherwise privileged by government, is an ethical way to escape usurers and both deflation and inflation. Common stock, for example, is a private money form that does not require usury nor is deflation built in. Inflation might be a problem with a particular stock but one can always sell it for a better managed company. It's strange that "Free to Choose" Milty would advocate such a thing.

and having base money as the only form of money.

Allowing all citizens accounts at the central bank and abolishing all other privileges for the banks and other depository institutions means the citizens would use base money MUCH MORE than they currently do.

Schofield said...

"The key difference between neoliberalism and Libertarianism is that Libertarians are anti-state while neoliberalism are anti-state in certain areas but not areas that favor business and finance."

Plant's book is largely about this difference that Friedrich Hayek sort of recognised the unworkability of Libertarianism in a Marxian sense in that he reluctantly acknowledged the state would have to step in in order to ensure the reproduction of the workforce. Of course, this has occurred on a gigantic scale with state benefit programs and infrastructure, schools, disease control, etc.

Andrew Anderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Anderson said...

Of course the bankers will hate equal protection under the law wrt fiat accounts but won't dare object publicly.

Except maybe to claim "But the poor need the interest on their insured deposits!"

But that's what a just society is for - to minimize poverty - not provide welfare according to account size.

And if the poor need money then that's what a UBI is for - to give it to them directly - and not via disguised welfare for the rich.

Tom Hickey said...

Plant's book is largely about this difference that Friedrich Hayek sort of recognised the unworkability of Libertarianism in a Marxian sense in that he reluctantly acknowledged the state would have to step in in order to ensure the reproduction of the workforce. Of course, this has occurred on a gigantic scale with state benefit programs and infrastructure, schools, disease control, etc.

A major issue is that business is paying below subsistence wages at the level of the minimum wage and wages insufficient for living above the poverty level and also saving for a large swath of the middle class now called the precariat.

The welfare programs that business now opposes "unaffordable" are the requirement for worker reproduction and education.

Wall street killed the goose that laid the golden egg out of greed, and US business is trying to do the same for the real economy with austerity.

Morons.

Random said...

"And if the poor need money then that's what a UBI is for"

How big a UBI are we talking? Enough to end poverty? That's what is important to me.

Andrew Anderson said...

A significantly generous UBI has to be combined with deprivileging the banks or they'll start another boom-bust cycle and guess who'll get the blame?

So let's eliminate those privileges. And btw, abolishing deposit insurance should require (in the US) $trillions in new fiat to be distributed equally to all citizens to provide the new reserves needed as deposits are transferred from banks to inherently risk-free accounts at the Federal Reserve.

Once privileges for the banks are gone then price inflation in fiat will be much more in control of the monetary sovereign and the UBI can be more precisely adjusted as needed to maximize real growth.

This is the 21th century so poverty in the US is a particular disgrace.

Schofield said...

"Wall street killed the goose that laid the golden egg out of greed, and US business is trying to do the same for the real economy with austerity."

Note though how in the UK the right is turning left because the Labour Party under the current "progressive" leadership of Jeremy Corbyn and his partial adoption of MMT (via Richard Murphy) ideas with Peoples' Quantitative Easing (Project Bonds) with the new Tory prime minister Theresa May is threatening to take office. Notice the personality attack on Corbyn by the Red Tory dinosaurs in the Labour Party who are completely unaware of Corbyn's policies persuading the right to turn left to stay in office.

www.theresa2016.co.uk/we_can_make_britain_a_country_that_works_for_everyone

Andrew Anderson said...

persuading the right to turn left to stay in office. Schofield

So Leftism is a tool of the Right to preclude genuine reform?

Sure, why not? Neither Right NOR Left are interested in ethics wrt to fiat and private credit creation - just who's to be in charge of the thieving.