Though Margaret Thatcher is no longer among the living, her ideology lives on. That ideology – known today as neoliberalism, “free market fundamentalism” in a phrase coined by George Soros – is strikingly unique. Apart from religious beliefs, is there any example of an ideology that has been so thoroughly disproven yet maintains an aura of respectability?
The basic premise of neoliberalism – that “free markets” lead to better growth, higher prosperity and even more equality – was always fiction. As Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang has repeatedly pointed out, there is no such thing as a free market. Nor is there any example of a country that has developed by following the neoliberal tenets of privatization, liberalization and budget cuts. Instead countries have traditionally used some mix of subsidies, tariffs, and debt-financed investment to prop up industries and shift comparative advantage to higher-end goods.
Despite the history, neoliberals argue that markets alone should determine things like wages, and that corporations and their owners should be able to operate however they like. Developed countries that adopted neoliberal tenets post-1980 saw wages stagnate almost as quickly as corporate profits skyrocketed.
~ from Four Signs Neoliberalism is (Almost) Dead by Sameer Dossani ~
Often, when I remark that I am a socialist, it's not uncommon for some folks to snicker. "That system didn't work out very well in Russia or China, did it?" they laugh. While there is much truth in such assertions, what many of these same people don't realize is that capitalism ain't all it's cracked up to be either!
Capitalism is built on the edifice of exploitation. That's why the leading capitalist nations have all been imperialists. As long as there were natural resources and people to exploit, capitalism was ascendent. But lately, with natural resources decreasing rapidly and not as many people to exploit as before, the capitalist system has been staggering. It has been forced to turn inward and it seems to be hollowing itself out from the inside.
That's why we see the ever increasing income gap between rich and poor. That's why the elite are turning more and more to the strategy of privatization of public resources. That's why the rich are advocating austerity for everyone else. If they can't exploit enough people in faraway lands to keep the money flowing, they are forced to cannibalize their own nations.
Capitalism had its day in the sun, but the sun is setting. I'm not suggesting it will fall down on itself tomorrow or next year, but the day is coming soon. I don't know what sort of system will replace it, but if the powers that be have their way, it probably will be even worse than what we live under today.
That's one of the benefits of being old. I, fortunately, won't be around to see it!