FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Normalisation of Advanced Neoliberal Market Society

by

Today’s world is a fast-changing and conflict-laden territory. States and businesses in many places have fine-tuned their priorities to the post-crash requirements of power, profit, survival and renewal. Various post-crash establishment ideologies are on offer: from ’change we need’ to ’we are all in this together’, ’for hardworking people’, ’one nation’ and ’shared prosperity’.

Instead of the ’collapse’ and ’death’ of neoliberalism that many observers predicted, we are seeing an intensification of the agenda of constructing neoliberal market societies across the globe; this involves the extensive marketization of social relations, increased commercialization and power shifts to capital.

The crises we observe in so many countries are a manifestation and driver of this process. In other words, the process of embedding neoliberalism by way of market society making is still in full swing at both the political-economic and socio-cultural levels: for the most part, the rulers and elites who continue to control and govern our political and moral economies have not abandoned this agenda. And I would even argue that the troubling longer-term, deeper-level repercussions of the market society project are not behind us, but ahead.

Understanding neoliberalism in this way suggests that those who announce the arrival of post-neoliberalism will have a hard time showing significant non-neoliberal social formations emerging in any society restructured by neoliberalism. There is little evidence of any extensive move away from the market society and it is doubtful that ’post-neoliberalism’ is yet a broader and sustained trend in the global political economy.

There are of course contestations to the market society project, or aspects of it, on both political-economic and cultural grounds. The fierce response of state and non-state advocates of the status quo to these struggles gives us a hint of the extensive alliance of interest and power that underpins the project. There is a lot at stake for the rulers and owners of ’the system’, and derailing significantly from it would be a very costly affair for them.

That said, a key feature of the post-crash capitalist world is the arrival and consolidation of versions of The New Normal (TNN) in many market societies that have been restructured for years by the proponents of There Is No Alternative (TINA). TNN manifests itself in making certain ‘new’ practices and norms dominant across society. What many people in the global North considered ’shocking’, ’unthinkable’, ’outrageous’, ’a thing of the past’ or ’backward’ only a while ago has been (re-) established as TNN in many of the TINA-countries. We see for instance an intensive attack on the welfare state, industrial relations and democracy; the use of state and corporate power to extend the surveillance system, clamp down on protest and neutralize critique and resistance. Meanwhile high levels of corporate trickery or crime, and political corruption, are regularly ’tackled’ in a belated, soft-handed way.

High levels of un- and under-employment, poverty, inequality, insecurity and an ever more open conflict between capital and labour (as well as capital and people, including consumers) dominate life for millions of people in Western Europe and North America, and further advance TNN. Similarly, in various countries in the global South, post-crash capitalism — and its dynamics of intensified resource competition, job-less growth, poverty, corporate criminality and corruption — has generated new conflicts and instabilities, and produced new frontiers of TNN in these early-adjusters and TINA-countries as well.

TNN watchers may want to focus on how and to what extent TNN is being advanced and institutionalized, and The Old Normal de-normalised and crowded out. This may give us some insights into the operations of conflict and power in advanced market societies, present and future.

Jörg Wiegratz is lecturer in Political Economy of Global Development, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds.

This article appears in the excellent Le Monde Diplomatique, whose English language edition can be found at mondediplo.com. This full text appears by agreement with Le Monde Diplomatique. CounterPunch features two or three articles from LMD every month.

 

Jörg Wiegratz Lecturer in Political Economy of Global Development at University of Leeds.

May 04, 2016
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
Ken Butigan
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, with Gratitude
Nicolas J S Davies
Escalating U.S. Air Strikes Kill Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, Iraq
Binoy Kampmark
Class, Football, and Blame: the Hillsborough Disaster Inquest
George Wuerthner
The Economic Value of Yellowstone National Park
Rivera Sun
Celebrating Mother Jones
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir and Postcolonialism
Mairead Maguire
Drop the Just War Theory
Weekend Edition
April 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What is the Democratic Party Good For? Absolutely Nothing
Roberto J. González – David Price
Anthropologists Marshalling History: the American Anthropological Association’s Vote on the Academic Boycott of Israeli Institutions
Robert Jacobs
Hanford, Not Fukushima, is the Big Radiological Threat to the West Coast
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
US Presidential Election: Beyond Lesser Evilism
Dave Lindorff
The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate
Peter Linebaugh
Marymount, Haymarket, Marikana: a Brief Note Towards ‘Completing’ May Day
Ian Fairlie
Chernobyl’s Ongoing Toll: 40,000 More Cancer Deaths?
Pete Dolack
Verizon Sticks it to its Workers Because $45 Billion isn’t Enough
Moshe Adler
May Day: a Trade Agreement to Unite Third World and American Workers
Margaret Kimberley
Dishonoring Harriet Tubman
Deepak Tripathi
The United States, Britain and the European Union
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail