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Our Grim Future: Restored Neoliberalism or Hybrid Neofascism?
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Demonstrators protest against the 50th Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting, in Zurich, Switzerland January 22, 2020. The banner reads "End Wars! Fight the Climate Crisis!". REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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With the specter of a New Great Depression hovering over most of the planet, realpolitik perspectives for a radical change of the political economy framework we live in are not exactly encouraging.

Western ruling elites will be deploying myriad tactics to perpetuate the passivity of populations barely emerging from de facto house arrest, including a massive disciplinary – in a Foucault sense – drive by states and business/finance circles.

In his latest book, La Desaparicion de los Rituales, Byung-Chul Han shows how total communication, especially in a time of pandemic, now coincides with total vigilance: “Domination impersonates freedom. Big Data generates a domineering knowledge that allows the possibility of intervening in the human psyche, and manipulating it. Considering it this way, the data-ist imperative of transparency is not a continuation of the Enlightenment, but its ending.”

This revamping of Foucault’s Discipline and Punish coincides with reports about the demise of the neoliberal era being vastly overstated. Instead of a simplistic plunge into populist nationalism, what is on the horizon points mostly to a Neoliberalism Restoration – massively spun as a novelty, and incorporating some Keynesian elements: after all, in the post-Lockdown era, to “save” the markets and private initiative the state must not only intervene but also facilitate a possible ecological transition.

The bottom line: we may be facing a mere cosmetic approach, in which the deep structural crisis of zombie capitalism – barely moving under unpopular “reforms” and infinite debt – still is not addressed.

Meanwhile, what is going to happen to assorted fascisms? Eric Hobsbawm showed us in Age of Extremes how the key to the fascist right was always mass mobilization: “Fascists were the revolutionaries of the counter-revolution”.

We may be heading further than mere, crude neofascism. Call it Hybrid Neofascism. Their political stars bow to global market imperatives while switching political competition to the cultural arena.

That’s what true “illiberalism” is all about: the mix between neoliberalism – unrestricted capital mobility, Central Bank diktats – and political authoritarianism. Here’s where we find Trump, Modi and Bolsonaro.

From Anthropocene to Capitalocene

To counterpunch zombie neoliberalism, those believing another world is possible dream of a social-democratic revival; wealth redistribution; or at least neoliberalism with a human face.

That’s where eco-socialism jumps in: a radical rupture with the diktats of the Goddess of the Market, the product of a healthy rebellion against ultra-authoritarian neoliberalism and illiberalism.

In sum, that could be seen as a soft adaptation of Thomas Piketty’s analyses: to break the domination of capital by economic democracy, in the spirit of mid-19th century social democracy.

It’s quite interesting, in this aspect, to consider Fully Automated Luxury Communism, by Aaron Bastani, a refreshing utopian manifesto where we see that once society is stripped off everything superfluous linked to alienation, it’s still possible for everyone to find all the necessary technical means to live “in luxury” without recourse to infinity growth imposed by Capital.

And that brings us to the direct link between the Anthropocene and what has been conceptualized by French economist Benjamin Coriat as the Capitalocene.

Capitalocene means that our current state of appalling planetary degradation should not be linked to an undefined “humanity” but “to a very defined humanity organized by a predatory economic system.”

The state of the planet under the Anthropocene must be imperatively linked to the hegemonic economic system of the past two centuries: the way we developed our system of production and legitimized indiscriminate predatory practices.

The bottom line: to go beyond it, the economy must be reoriented and rebuilt, part of a “big bang in public and economic policies.”

In the Anthropocene, Promethean humanity must be contained so the rape of Mother Earth can be properly tackled.

Capitalocene for its part describes Capital as the crucial root and conditioner of the current world-system. The result of the struggle against the ravaging effects of Capital will determine the possible future of eco-socialism.

And that refocuses the importance of the commons – way beyond the opposition between private property and public property.

Coriat has shown how Covid-19 laid bare the necessity of the commons and the incapacity of neoliberalism to address it.

But how to build eco-socialism? Should it start as eco-socialism in one country (somewhere in Scandinavia)? How to coordinate it across Europe? How to fight ossified EU structures from the inside?

After all both Restored Neoliberalism and illiberalism already count on powerful states and networks. A good example is Hungary and Poland continuing to function as cogs of the German industrial supply chain.

How to prevent someone like Bill Gates to take control of a UN organization, the WHO, thus forcing it to invest in programs that fit his own personal agenda?

How to change the WTO’s free market rules, according to which buying palm oil and transgenic soya contributes to the de facto deforestation of large tracts of Africa, Asia and South America? This is a state of affairs that allows wealthy nations to actually buy the destruction of ecosystems.

Revolution, not reform

Even if neoliberalism was dead, and it’s not, the world is still encumbered with its corpse – to paraphrase Nietzsche a propos of God.

And even as a triple catastrophe – sanitary, social and climatic – is now unequivocal, the ruling matrix – starring the Masters of the Universe managing the financial casino – won’t stop resisting any drive towards change.

Diversionist tactics supporting an “ecological transition” fool no one.

Financial capitalism is an expert in adapting to – and profiting from – the serial crises it provokes or unleashes.

To update May 1968, what’s needed is L’Imagination au Pouvoir. Yet it’s idle to expect imagination from mere puppets such as Trump, Merkel, Macron or BoJo.

Realpolitik once again points to a post-Lockdown turbo-capitalist framework, where the illiberalism of the 1% – with fascistic elements – and naked turbo-financialization are boosted by reinforced exploitation of an exhausted and now largely unemployed workforce.

ORDER IT NOW

Post-Lockdown turbo-capitalism is once again reasserting itself after four decades of Thatcherization, or – to be polite – hardcore neoliberalism. Progressive forces still don’t have the ammunition to revert the logic of extremely high profits for the ruling classes – EU governance included – and for large global corporations as well.

Economist and philosopher Frederic Lordon, a researcher at the French CNRS, cuts to the inevitable chase: the only solution would be a revolutionary insurrection. And he knows exactly how the financial markets-corporate media combo would never allow it. Big Capital is capable of co-opting and sabotaging anything.

So this is our choice: it’s either Neoliberal Restoration or a revolutionary rupture. And nothing in between. It takes someone of Marx’s caliber to build a full-fledged, 21st century eco-socialist ideology, and capable of long-term, sustained mobilization. Aux armes, citoyens.

(Republished from Strategic Culture Foundation by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Economics, Ideology • Tags: Coronavirus, Neoliberalism, Unemployment 
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  1. 76239 says:

    “It takes someone of Marx’s caliber to build a full-fledged, 21st century eco-socialist ideology”

    That what the world needs right? More intrusive government? We just don’t pay enough in taxes and, and we don’t get enough orders from the political class? Too few rules and too few rulers!
    What a joke of an article this is!

    Marx sat home most of the day drinking wine and writing. His luxurious lifestyle came about because of capitalism and not in spite of it. Lord have mercy.

  2. Neoliberalism as envisaged via the Chicago School of Economics was fully eviscerated March 10th 2008 around 11:00am Bear Stearns time New York City. The latest financial implosion is merely a return of the Great Financial Crisis Lehman Brothers debacle that was never resolved post-GFC.

    What we are evidencing now is merely the implosion of the entire Fractional Reserve Banking System of the Western Empire that was supposed to occur post-Lehman. Unfortunately, the financial parasites at the Federal Reserve didn’t want to bother Congress for yet another bailout of the banking system of Wall Street so they deployed SARS-2-nCoV-19 as subterfuge for their systemic rip-off of taxpayers via their REPO lines since September of 2019 onward into 2020 and beyond.

    Neoliberalism was operationalized as a unified theory as it was introduced system wide, but today we have no market econometric fundamentals to preserve the façade of trust & faith in an imprimatur state that treats all citizens as cattle to be rendered for financial slaughter business quarter by business quarter onwards. The valueless imprimatur of state is now worthless to the lion’s share of the population that is not served by the very system that is abusing them financially.

    Empirically, we have the supporting evidence that delineates where the wealth goes and who is extracting it in the greatest proportions. The so-called ‘elite’ one per cent financial parasites like Jeff Bezos & Amazon shareholders will only surrender their misbegotten wealth transfer at the point where that wealth transfer no longer serves their wants & needs.

    Marxian Revolution has already been achieved via the 08 insolvency of Lehman Brothers as that toppled the entire edifice of fraud in one fell swoop to expose the proponents & adherents of Capitalism as those that espouse socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.

    Currently, the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve are looting the US Treasury to the tune of $7 trillion USD in revolving loans to the marquee investment banks on Wall Street whilst their political detractors and great unwashed masses are busy watching CNN & FOX News for indication that all is well with the world they are collectively invested in based upon an imprimatur of state that murders black American citizens in broad daylight via suffocation of his airways as that is their right under law and the USE OF FORCE.

    Believe me when I state that neoliberalism has no comeback from the Lehman insolvency as they all bet 44:1 on Richard ‘the Gorilla of Wall Street’ Fuld who, as we know, bet Lehman Brothers 44:1 on a whim that markets always go up as do housing prices when the serially corrupt at the Federal Reserve are making up the rules as they fly by the seats of their pants on a hand-basket to Hell.

    Whoopie, we’re all going to die!

    RW

  3. Neoliberalism is the greatest system ever crafted. It provided us with the safest and greatest societies the wotld has ever known, empowering people to take themselves closer to their imaginations than ever before. Only genetically defective subhumans would oppose it. 4 years in to our experiment with amateur fascism, it comes to an end in ashes. Our societies are literally fucking burning to the ground.

    • Replies: @Robert White
    , @Other Side
  4. Malla says:

    4 years in to our experiment with amateur fascism, it comes to an end in ashes. Our societies are literally fucking burning to the ground.

    Yes, America was doing soooo great before the last 4 years. Ya rite!!!

  5. @JohnPlywood

    It’s called ‘proto-fascism’, dork.

    Read a book some day, eh.

    RW

  6. @JohnPlywood

    *looks at all BLM riots ”

    ” Only genetically defective subhumans would oppose … our current system ”

    Giggles

  7. “Fascism,” as if the State occupies that kind of mental space in anybody’s head other than old socialists like Escobar.

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