Neoliberalism is based on a lie. It's been happening since the mid 70s when US economist Milton Friedman & Austrian/British economist Friedrich Hayek finally threw out the long standing economic traditions of British economist John Maynard Keynes, (who had focussed on government policy to avoid the problems of unplanned market forces made clear in the 1929 crash), and replaced it with a return to *unrestrained competition*. Neoliberalism took up this argument with a passion.
The lie of Neoliberalism goes something like this:We live in a free society. Everyone in a free country like ours is free to engage in competition. And original British economists & philosophers in the 18th & 19th centuries have told us that competition is key to #lowest price, highest quantity# possible cleared in the marketplace, and therefore leads to greatest consumer satisfaction over time. By *competing* with each other, in their own self-interest, to achieve the highest profit possible, the capitalists are actually doing the best for society, over time. And governments, when they try to intervene to achieve *other outcomes*, stand in the way of this competition & thereby do everyone a disservice. They need to keep their hands off and let competition prevail. Capitalists can't engage in competition without employing workers to do the work for them. So governments, by opening up more markets, and making it easier for capitalists to compete, and making it easier for them to earn a profit, in the end, ensure that the most workers that can possibly be employed, are employed. Any money spent by governments, to help the capitalists compete, will eventually trickle down to the workers, anyway; so, it's money well spent. Best to keep our hands off and let them get on with it.
Sound familiar? It should. It has been calling the shots across Western economies/governments for forty years now.
#Fixit? Not bloody likely
But it's clear to us this week that the Neoliberalists are not interested in getting it right. Their lie is just to make the rip off by big monopoly capitalism easier, at the expense of the poor.
Neoliberalism has been fundamental to Western economies' competition since the mid 70s. It was key to the formalisation and expansion of the EU in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It was key to British arguments whether or not to join the EU in the mid 70s. It was key to US assisting its own large corporations go "global" in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It has been behind all the calls for "privatisation" of government services like airlines, banking, telephone, postal, roads, rail, electricity, water, medibank, across the Western world, in the 80s, 90s and 00s.
It was even fundamental to what the governments of US, UK and Australia, (the "Coalition Of The Willing"), told us was the initial reason for invading Iraq in 2003: Saddam Hussein they said had invaded the "land of the free", (meaning, of course, an undemocratic kingdom, Kuwait) and by going in & kicking his arse, we (the "coalition of the willing") were taking on the "Axis of Evil", (meaning Iraq, Iran & North Korea). And by doing this, and winning easy, we were providing warning to the "Beyond the Axis of Evil" (meaning Cuba, Libya and Syria) and the "Outposts of Tyranny'" (meaning Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe). Of course they used the "weapons of mass destruction" argument in their debate in the UN, setting up for the invasion. But people forget that we only heard the "weapons of mass destruction" argument come centre-fold when the "warmongers" (meaning US, UK, and Australia) realised that few of their buddies in the UN were happy about them taking this warmongering action and they were going to have to justify the invasion with more than just a song about a pet lioness (meaning "Born Free, where life is worth living"). Anyway, that is another story.
#Brexit & #Fuxit: Britain & Australia
In the last few weeks, in two of those "coalition of the willing" partners, in Britain and Australia, the lunacy of Neoliberalism has come into sharp focus. (We'll leave aside the lunacy in the US, as that is a different story). And in Britain and Australia the similarities are striking. And it makes sense, because it is all based on the same lie.
The whole of neoliberalism is based on a lie. To back up that lie, whenever the facts show it to be a lie, like unrestrained competition leading to massive fraud, to markets selling products that are not products because have no value, so key firms can prosper at the cost of the superannuee, leading to to completely failed markets, leading to a major global financial crisis (GFC), leading to loss of half the world's funds, disappearing into thin air, they have to tell us it is not the lack of competition that is the root cause, but bad apples that need to be removed to allow free competition to again do its job. They back up their lies with other lies. They get so used to telling us lies, that they lose touch with reality altogether.
#Brexit: Cameron's referendum
David Cameron was sure his referendum to take Britain out of the EU would not get up. The conservatives have been trading in the EU for years and telling their followers that the money going into the EU was being wasted by the power hungry bureaucrats over which they have no control. This was a very useful lie. It meant anything that went wrong in Britain could be blamed on the EU. It moved the focus away from major global entities ripping the wealth from the poorest.
Cameron was sure it would fail because had seen a precursor to the Brexit referendum in the Scottish referendum. There were much clearer reasons, it seemed, for Scotland to leave and become a nation in their own right. There was a huge argument, with both sides keen to engage. But the issues involved were clear. And even there, with the clarity of the argument, the Exiters couldn't pull it off! If there was going to be a big change in the British ruling class, it was much more likely there. Much more likely than in the case of the EU, with its complex issues, a disparity of winners and losers across Britain, widely diverse, and not subject to detailed interaction on the issues.
Freedom to choose
Cameron thought he could use the Brexit referendum to shut up the members of his own party and his own cabinet. Cameron's promoting "freedom to choose" was a neoliberalist lie. And in a sense he was right. In the electorates that had benefitted most from outward thinking interaction, London, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, voted to stay. But the electorates that had suffered the most from neoliberalist lies and nonsense, unemployment, stagnant economy, even poverty, voted to leave. The useful lie that the misery being experienced came from the EU and from support for refugees etc, made more sense to those seeking a way forward and a simple way out. It was pretty clear that nobody in the Conservative Party had any idea that it was going to get up. We know this because nobody "had a plan". And they still don't. They thought there was no risk.
Unplanned consequences: a racist upswell in a dimishing nation state
The racist far right were emboldened. The UKIP ran a scare campaign that said if we stay in the EU we will be overrun by the refugees, the Muslims. And they campaigned for the money being wasted on the EU to be used to fix up Britain's "Medicare" (their National Health Service, NHS). Even before all the votes were in, the UKIP fascist leader Nigel Farage said he ran his own campaign and didn't agree with the UKIP line on using the money spent on membership of the EU on the NHS. He was for privatisation, he said. He also said, how wonderful it was that Britain could have a huge change without any violence, even though his followers had killed a wonderful, honest Labour politician, Jo Cox, a couple of weeks before the referendum in the street in broad daylight, just to make their point.
The day after the referendum the Conservatives were in total disarray, the pound plummeted, the credit rating being subject to change, the future uncertain. The National Front nazis, quiet since the 80s, came out and started campaigning for Britain to throw out Muslims and other non-whites, like Indians and West-Indians, and their children born in Britain, and their children's children. When those walls start to go up, racism rears its ugly head and it soon becomes impossible to have a proper argument about anything.
#Fuxit: Turnbull's double dissolution
Turnbull's neoliberal strat plan
Malcolm Turnbull was sure his double dissolution to kick independents out of the Senate and create an orderly "2-party-preferred" Senate would get up. The conservatives had been trying to get their bills through the Senate for 3 years with little success and telling their followers that the problems we were experiencing came from what they inherited under Labor and an unruly mob in the Senate over which they had no control.
This was a very useful lie. It meant anything that went wrong in AU could be blamed on Labor.
Labor's neoliberal credentials?
Truth was, the conservatives had Labor's support on a wide range of neoliberalist objectives, put together by their nasty anti-democratic freak show, the IPA, that LNP were seeking to implement.
Labor supported them on Intervention, on refugees, on metadata, on mining vs agriculture, on fracking, on black shirt Border Force, and a range of other important policy changes, all coming from the neoliberalist songbook.
Even the NBN which was Labor's big credit card item we found was watered down to a mirage of its original design, when Labor went to the polls.
2PP objectives in common
And Labor supported changes to the voting rules (initially, anyway) which LNP stupidly thought were going to ensure a return to 2PP control. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/gary-gray-mounts-c...
Both the 2PPs seemed to want to focus on getting rid of the independents and the Greens, a useful neoliberalist diversion.
It moved the focus away from major global entities ripping the wealth from the poorest in the Turnbull agenda, about the only things Turnbull had going for him policy-wise a payment out to global capital, stealing it from social services, pensioners, the unemployed, etc.
Turnbull's quiet confidence
Turnbull's promoting a return of the "construction watchdog" was a neoliberalist lie. He only went for it because he knew Labor couldn't support it because of the #ALP's formal relationship with the union movement. But Turnbull was sure the DD would succeed because he had the support of the Murdoch MSM and Shorten was never going to make it in the "preferred Prime Minister" polls. All he had to do was keep his mouth shut, tell us he "had a plan", and the rest would be easy. And in a sense he was right. Shorten was on the nose, and judging things on past elections in the modern era, the huge swing needed to kick LNP out of office only came on the back of a humungus campaign with the new leader riding on a wave of voters seeking change. He made it the longest campaign, to bore the shit out of the electorate, with the understanding that, without focus, discussion, & involvement by the electorate, Shorten couldn't make it. He thought there was no risk. The fact that he came so close to losing government points to a long term change in 2PP. Turnbull should be sacking his policy advisors for not understanding the modified numbers required for election in a double dissolution.
The racist far right were emboldened. The nazis Australia First Party AFP had their punch ups in Sydney and in Melbourne, enthused by Abbott's black shirt Border Force. I am not sure how they did in the polls but Turnbull has helped create a space for this formal nazism to continue to find a space in Australia, similar to UKIP in Britain. The Greens got some good results but were unable to put anyone under pressure. And Labor did well in the election but lurched further to the right as they got rid of the best of their independent thinkers from their ranks.
The role of the Senate as a place to "keep the bastards honest" or not give them (2PP) the power to "fuck us over" seems to be galvanised.
Both Shorten and Turnbull got what they deserved, from an electorate that seemed to understand exactly what the issues were.
The big beneficiaries were Nick Xenophon, centrism, and Pauline Hanson, racism & anti-immigrationism.
Where to from here?
It seems to me that Malcolm Fraser was right. The electorate are not stupid. A hung parliament is a clear sign that they don't want 2PP. They want a system that has in it an ability to change policy outside the moribund 3-year cycle. (Of course, you are correct, it's not "hung", but you couldn't get any closer to hung, than this.) It seems pretty obvious today that it is generally understood that we face bigger issues around the future of mankind and the future of the planet than this idiotic cycle is capable of dealing with. The long term pressure for a real alternative party seem stronger than we have seen, since 1901.
Impact of Brexit on long term Australian constitutional reform?
And the Brexit so-called "reform" seems to make a call, especially to republican thinkers like myself, which is probably a majority as we speak, for a final separation between Australia and Great Britain. But under Turnbull, I will not hold my breath.