Monbiot on neo-liberalism

George Monbiot’s latest post considers our contemporary crises, and lays their origins, like Vercingetorix, at the feet of neo-liberalism (Asterix fans: Vercingetorix was real):

When the Mont Pelerin Society first met, in 1947, its political project did not have a name. But it knew where it was going. The society’s founder, Friedrich von Hayek, remarked that the battle for ideas would take a least a generation to win, but he knew that his intellectual army would attract powerful backers. Its philosophy, which later came to be known as neoliberalism, accorded with the interests of the ultra-rich, so the ultra-rich would promote it.

Neoliberalism claims that we are best served by maximum market freedom and minimum intervention by the state. The role of government should be confined to creating and defending markets, protecting private property and defending the realm. All other functions are better discharged by private enterprise, which will be prompted by the profit motive to supply essential services. By this means, enterprise is liberated, rational decisions are made and citizens are freed from the dehumanising hand of the state.

You may remember this school of thought from the Brooklyn Rail’s article about New York city. Needless to say, it will not comfort you if you are of a neo-liberalist bent. If you aren’t, or if you’re un-affiliated, one way or another, you should give the article a few minutes.

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