Over the past few years I have run a gamut of feelings about neoliberalism, anger, rage, despondency, futility, vengefulness, hatred, but lately all that has congealed and what I feel more than anything else is a virulent hatred for the appalling reality of the casual deaths neoliberalism not only takes for granted, but which is predicated on the millions of deaths of ordinary people.
Milton Friedman saw neoliberalism, unfettered markets, corporate power and a one-size-fits-all economic model, as the perfect force of economic liberation and the ultimate economic solution through the elimination of the public sector, total liberation for corporations and catastrophic cuts to social spending.
The USA has, in its global military adventures, justifiably earned a reputation for what’s known as collateral damage and killing by ‘friendly fire’. Such casualties of war are at least, even in such a derisory and cursory a way, acknowledged. Not so the victims of Friedman’s economic model.
The countless millions who could attest to the lethal brutality of Friedman’s economic vision are vanished or dead or displaced from life into unheeded and unremarked suffering and squalor.
When I read Naomi Klein’s – The Shock Doctrine, I wondered how neoliberalism and the shrinking of the state under free-market ideology could cause so many deaths and the world not know? Tens of thousands of poor people dying because of the Chicago School of economics for which, Nobel prize winner, Milton Friedman, was one of the chief orchestrators.
What happened in Chile was by way of an experiment, what Friedman really wanted was an abrupt and total end to all social provision. He believed the shock would be short and brutal but would settle once the immediate consequences of death and social destruction were over. The lives of ordinary people were of no consequence to Friedman and his acolytes and his experiments were well received by those of a despotic disposition including the Tories in the UK.
By 2010, on the back of the global financial crash, the government of David Cameron was (remarkably) prepared for an explosion of neoliberalism into British life. He was ready to make a bonfire of the many rights and protections we’d battled for and won over many decades, destroy the post-war consensus and turn welfare into warfare, he was also about to launch the greatest sell-off of state assets in history, and front line services, including health, were about to be catastrophically torn apart and these were just the tip of an enormous neoliberal iceberg.
The problems every government faces when adopting neoliberal principles are, how to present them to the nation and how to get away with an economic model that is going to kill off a hefty percentage of poor, vulnerable and working class people. From my reading I don’t think this was an issue that bothered Friedman and, indeed, I have the impression that he regarded mass deaths (genocide/democide) as mere expedience, after all, neoliberalism is a doctrine of profit before people and the environment.
David Cameron and George Osborne were the perfect over privileged, sociopathic elites to bring about the most brutal social revolution in Britain in which hundreds of thousands of people have since died and the government has given up even bothering to count our dead.
The entire rebuild of the UK’s system of Social Security into what we now know as Universal Credit was a transformation from care to cruelty introduced by a psychopathic half-arsed master of cruelty and brutality, Iain Duncan Smith. He was assisted in this travesty by fellow avid sadists and sociopaths, Lord David Freud and Esther McVey.
Universal Credit, we are told, is predicated on making work pay. Given that work is becoming ever more insecure, it is clear that making work pay does not mean an increase in either pay or hours worked. What the government mean is that benefits are so low that being on benefits means being in extreme poverty, by design. The fallacy becomes clear when we find more people are living in in-work poverty than out of work poverty. But within neoliberal doctrine, work is no longer about making a living and earning enough to keep yourself alive, the only factor at play in neoliberalism is our value as a resource, that and no more. Our ability to live is not a factor, and if we leave or die, they’ll just replace us with someone else. It is a situation in which people have no human rights at all, not even the right to life. We each exist on corporate sufferance, we have even less value than plant or machinery which must be maintained in good working order because replacement is expensive. Not so human resources. We’re dirt, bargain basement, cheap.
Just this week it was reported that workers at Costa Coffee were being charged £200 for job training. In fact this is incredibly common and the bane of many trades people and others and can cost thousands of pounds. It would be absurd to pretend that any computer or machine can be fit to do the job except at company expense, not so humans, as a resource we are the most flexible available and the least valued. If we break, then we are fired and replaced and we bear the cost of being broken and discarded, even if that cost is our life.
Under neoliberalism, we humans exist on corporate sufferance only and the Tory government is fully complicit in this abomination. The only god is profit and the vast majority of human kind are the slaves of profit.
Is there a way out? There are three conditions which perpetuate the system, corporate power, government and the media, working together. We challenge government by voting and protest, although the fixed term parliament was a master stroke by the Tories who are entirely contemptuous of democracy. We can use social media and independent media for news to challenge the main stream media narrative, especially television which encourages docility by its mere existence. We can challenge corporate power via worker solidarity, union power, localism and co-ops. But none of that is enough.
I would like to suggest that our greatest enemy is obedience. We are the many, so why aren’t we winning? I suggest it is because, in general, we are too divided and beaten up, by government and media, and too compliant, too afraid of making a fuss and too ready to blame ourselves for even existing. In short, whether Irish, Scottish, Welsh or English (especially English), we need to stop being so bloody English, slaves to the mindset of empire and deferential to undeserving useless toffs and aristocracy.
The people we are up against are tossers. Few of them ever face the trials and insecurities of ordinary people. They lose their minds if their wine isn’t chilled or they do not feel pampered enough. The only things they have are greed and wealth, without which they are useless. Iain Duncan Smith famously boasted he could live on £53 a week. He was immediately challenged to prove it with a petition gaining 25,000 signatures in its first day. Naturally, he never took up the challenge because he wouldn’t make it past the first breakfast, for which he once claimed £39 on parliamentary expenses and which, if he’d had to cough up himself, would have left him with £14 for the rest of the week.
We know their mettle. They are sneering and jeering, weak, over privileged arseholes. Surely, EVERYONE MUST KNOW THAT by now!
When I was writing a letter a day to number 10 someone contacted me and told me to show more respect for the Prime Minister of Great Britain. That, right there, is exactly our societal problem. They deserve nothing but our diligent and persistent utter disrespect. It isn’t we who are trash, it is them.
That is all neoliberalism is, trash, no matter how much power they wield and how many of us they kill, they and their filthy dogma are still trash. They boast of being self-made when they are utterly dependent on others for every moment of their survival in their worthless lives, because they couldn’t do it without us and yet they utterly despise us – and that is everything that is wrong with Britain and the world today.