Top 5 “Virtues” in the neo-liberal code are:

July 5, 2007

1. THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. (To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.)

2. CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. (Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.)

3. DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminsh profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.

4. PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. (Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.)

5. ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” (Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”)

We could also talk about the role of the New Buccaneers–institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter- American Development Bank–and how they essentially raid “developing” nations, steal their resources (fairly, of course, in the free market), and mortgage the souls of these poor people with their “loans,” but that’s another level of abstraction and I would like to end this with the smallest, most basic unit of measurement which the comparison of these two scales provides.

Unfortunately, we’re left with a rather magical word: alchemy.

Through the process of turning every human activity and every resource of the Earth into a transaction, we’ve turned incalculable riches into clearly and severely devalued “wealth”. “Wealth” that no longer belongs to the person or thing from which it was (fairly!) taken by this magical process.

This is the same process whereby “freedom” becomes (wage) slavery, “truth” becomes whatever we’re told, and “peace” becomes a perpetual (and profitable!) war to keep us “free”.

Two further resources worth pondering in this most important question:

Portland Indy Media’s treatment of Justice versus Neoliberalism and Globalization by Karl Müller: (Justice is the weapon of the weaker, not the right of the stronger…)

and, strangely enough, an example of the opposite of this tsunamic trend…in two tales of de-desertification (Trees: The Anti-Desert and A Greener Niger.

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