Neoliberalism: the rise of Hyper-Capital

Post-war food aid into Europe saw U.S. capital begin its stride towards world domination (see ‘Food Regimes’). The international build-up of U.S. military and aid programmes ensured a rapid extension of its influence over friend and foe, and its allies’ taxpayers. By the 1960s the youth culture of the West reacted to the violence. The mood of protest and socialisation swept in by the baby-boomer generation potentially threatened to displace the established order. The Right fought back, each attack on ordinary sensibilities more disturbing than the previous … the trend towards globalising neo-liberalism had started. From a well-funded, tiny nucleus of students led by Milton Friedman at Chicago University there grew a huge international network of foundations, institutes, and think-tanks which gradually but relentlessly pushed this doctrine into economic schools throughout the world.

Politicians, when elected on its promise, implemented programmes for dispossessing the public of its property, obliterated labour’s solidarity and socialised scarcity through endless debt squeeze, tax regimes and export-led resource depletion. So-called preventative wars, such as the war on drugs, the war on poverty, were conflated with a war on common sense, morality and socially accumulated rights.

The triumph of the Right lay in normalising their ‘competition in scarcity’ economics. Suddenly social Darwinism out-justified social welfare, and capital began smugly parading its virtues: “The rich don’t exploit the poor. They just out-compete them.” (Brook, 2007).

Against every tradition of wisdom the mantra became ‘survival-of-the-fittest’ as some principle of evolution legitimised by Darwin himself (Fallacy #2). In fact it was the social-theorist/agnostic-economist Herbert Spencer (1864) who adapted Darwin’s idea of ‘natural selection’ into this catch-phrase of economic survivalism. Further deflation of the relevance of Fallacies #1 and #2 comes with noticing the virtue-bound societies from which they were imagined: Spencer’s God-fearing upper-class England, and Adam’s Scotland of residual clannish honour. Could they have imagined the course of capital after this chink in their moral armour was opened?


Charles Hugh Smith talks with Max Kaiser about ‘Collapsing Empires’ – Aug 2015.
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