Suddenly our leaders and their lackies are all over the airwaves warning the unwashed hordes of the perils of rejecting the glorious benefits of free markets and free trade, as those ingrates have done in the US and UK.
Their favourite line is “Twenty five years of uninterrupted economic growth.” You hear it almost every day. It represents unparalleled economic success. It is uniquely Australian, because no other country avoided the 2008-9 recession. It’s all because of Australia’s lean, deregulated, open, agile economy, managed brilliantly by [insert current Treasurer].
Except for two little caveats. Australia’s economic performance during the neoliberal era has never matched that in the post-war decades to the early 1970s. And we avoided severe recession in 2008-9 only because the Rudd Government intervened heavily in the economy.
[Published at New Matilda 22 N0v.]
No, not discovering and not mis-governing, dis-governing: deliberately disrupting the governance of Australia, in the same way that disinformation is the deliberate spreading of false information.
Coal mine amidst farmland
[Published on Independent Australia 14 May]
I spend a lot of my days trawling the follies of our time. To avoid sinking into the mire of despair I need to keep a firm hold of love and hope and grandchildren. But every now and then something lands too heavily in my heart, and I can only grieve.
Tarwyn Park is the Hunter Valley property where Peter Andrews worked out how to get the water back into the ground, by reconstructing a degraded creek so it flows slowly and the water can soak across the valley. His work is revolutionising the way we live in the Australian landscape, restoring its original productivity and resilience in the face of our challenging climate. We learnt last Monday, May 4th, in the ABC’s Australian Story that Tarwyn Park has been, very reluctantly, sold so it can be dug up for the coal that underlies the valley. It would be hard to find a more apt metaphor for the blind stupidity of Australia’s ruling class.
[The recent TV series by George Megalogenis on how neoliberal market reforms allegedly saved Australia from the Global Financial Crisis caused me to read his 2012 book on the same theme, wondering if any evidence at all might be found for such an unlikely (but widely believed) claim. I have written my response into the book I’m working on, as follows.]
[A version published on Independent Australia 1 May.]
Despite their mediocrity and failure, and their lack of basis in human nature or defensible theory, the rightness of free competitive markets is taken almost completely for granted in mainstream discussion. That was true when neoliberalism was introduced in the 1980s and it remains true today. Back in the 1980s, I would look out for the basis for the praise being heaped on the latest reform. All I ever seemed to find was the circular reference back to free markets, which were self-evidently good. The mantra of the open, competitive economy is repeated a thousand times a day. Such immersion can lead one to doubt one’s reason and common sense, so it may be useful to search for any robust logic in the daily deluge.
Sack the Economists will be launched by Professor Steve Keen, author of Debunking Economics and winner of the Revere Award for his clear warnings of the approaching Global Financial Crisis.
RSVP Gleebooks or phone 02 9660 2333
Sunday, 4th May 2014, 3:30 for 4 pm, Gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Road, Glebe NSW.
The flier below can be downloaded here: LaunchAd&CoverGlee (pdf 300k), or as jpg from the image. Please feel free to distribute it.
[A variation of The Lost Left, published today at Independent Australia.]
The way forward for progressives is to argue against the self-serving neoliberal ideology of the fatcat and for prudent and sensible management of the markets, writes Dr Geoff Davies.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten saysLabor needs new policies.
He’s not wrong there.
For three decades, while Labor has focussed on being merely a slightly paler imitation of the Coalition, its membership has plummeted, inequality has risen, it has repeatedly capitulated to wealthy bullies and, it seems, there is no policy too degrading for it to adopt as it races the Coalition into the depths of fear and negativity.
… read more
[This piece was prompted by Has the Left Surrendered? by Richard Eskow on Campaign for America’s Future, a good source of sensible US commentary. His article was in turn prompted by Nothing Left: The Long, Slow Surrender of American Liberals by Adolph Reed Jr in Harper’s magazine. ]
The political parties of the Left, in the US, UK and Australia, lost their way when they swallowed the free-market mantra. They became merely neoliberalism-lite. They implemented the market-fundamentalist program, and then applied bandaids to the wounds thus inflicted. They yielded the initiative, became defensive and reactive, and were steadily pushed, dragged and wedged ever-further to the right. They are now well to the right of the conservative parties of four or five decades ago. The former-left parties are now a huge impediment to real progressive politics, entrenched in that political space but betraying it on a daily basis.
Despite continuing soul-searching among those who recognised and deplored this process, there has yet to emerge any unifying alternative, beyond a catalogue of the many disparate social and environmental causes and groups that attempt to continue, with diminishing success, the old Left’s concern for ordinary people and their world. Indeed no alternative can emerge unless and until the core meme of neoliberalism is confronted.