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.

 

More articles by:

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

Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail