Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Gradual Wake-Up

I believe that we are very slowly awakening from a terrible economic and political nightmare. That nightmare is neo-liberalism. For forty years now the global population has been fed a very simple lie by the rich and the powerful and this lie has allowed them to restructure the economy and society in disastrous ways. The lie, as I said, is frighteningly simple - lower taxes and decrease regulation and jobs and prosperity will flourish. This lie is remarkable in as much as it has never delivered on its promises - not even a little bit - and yet, like a cult, people continue to promote it and buy into it. Neo-liberalsim really is the emperor's new clothes of ideologies. Instead of leading to prosperity and good jobs, this strategy has led to radical increases in economic and political inequalities, a forty-year stagnation of real wages for most people in the West, and environmental disaster. Along with these problems there is the continuing irony that far from reducing the size of government, neo-liberal politicians consistently increase government size overall, as well as creating much greater powers for government agencies to invade our privacy and personal lives. The other, somewhat hidden, irony of neo-liberalism is that instead of promoting so-called 'free-markets,' neo-liberals have created a powerful underlying collusion between government and big capital, leading to a political and economic system that is much less accountable.

I say that we are waking up from this nightmare because there is, despite the continuing overall power of this ideology, a growing mistrust of the neo-liberal discourse. People are realizing that the emperor has no clothes and that the promises are going unfulfilled. Young people in particular are seeing the lie exposed. The millennials are realizing that the security and prosperity that their parents and grand-parents enjoyed is off the menu for them. Instead they are seeing lower wages, few longterm secure jobs, deteriorating social programs, little genuine safety-net, useless university degrees for which they are in debt for thousands, and a dwindling hope for home ownership. I believe that a significant reason that the millennials are seeing through the lie of neo-liberalism is that they decreasingly rely on the MSM for their news and information. I have seen in the last few years, the discourse of my kids and their friends become more and more distrustful of the blanket claims of government that low taxes are the panacea of economic problems. Perhaps this is because in the absence of good, secure jobs they are not attracted to the neo-liberal spin that lower taxes will improve their lives. If your wages are so low that even the elimination of all of you taxes is not going to make you prosperous, then selling you on lower taxes rather than better social programs will go no where.

The neo-liberal ideology is still very powerful - in large part because the MSM never stops selling it. Look at the situation in Greece. The MSM continue to operate on the assumption that the bailout money is meant to save the Greek economy at large, but what it is really intended for, pure and simple, is to bail out Greek banks who are over-leveraged with Euro (mostly German) collateral. Most of the Euro bailout will go straight back into the pockets of Northern European capitalist and bankers.

But, despite its strength, the neo-liberal ideology is weakening slowly and that weakening is gradually spreading a kind of low-level anxiety in the capitalist class. The smarter among them know that when the tipping point is reached, they will be in real trouble.

The supposed 'recession' in the Canadian economy is really just the tip of the iceberg. We are WAY past recessions. The kinds of economic measurements that economists use to measure such issue actually mean very little to the majority of people. We actually have structural unemployment and underemployment problems (most of this goes entirely unmeasured), radically growing instability, and an looming environmental disaster that promises to utterly destroy the economies and social fabrics of many countries. But cognitive dissonance of the millennial generation will gradually emerge as wholesale anxiety, and then into genuine rebellion against the ideological status quo. People like Harper will one day be seen as the criminal and evil force that he really is and the past forty years or so of economic mayhem will be seen as a dark period in our history.

1 comment:

Owen Gray said...

Harper will be gone before the millennials assume power, Kirby. But his name will not be spoken with respect. Come to think of it, respect is something he has never known. Instead, he has settled for fear.