By Sven Åke Bjørke 23 January 2018
What is neo-liberalism, trumpism, and how do we detrump?
Do you know what neo-liberalism is? It is an ideology with which we all have been indoctrinated for the last generation. Most of us don’t even realize it is an ideology, and are unable to define it.
“It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump.”” Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling” Monbiot, The Guardian, 2016
Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, two Austrians, originally defined the ideology of neo-liberalism. They perceived social democracy as collectivism, and as being a kind of communism destroying individualism and leading to totalitarianism. In 1947 Hayek founded an organization that would spread the doctrine of neoliberalism – the Mont Pelerin Society. It was immediately supported by conservative multimillionaires from various countries. The Mont Pelerin members formed a transatlantic network of very rich people, journalists and academics, in turn founding a series of neo-liberal “think tanks” in reality propaganda centers – like the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies, Heartland institute and the Adam Smith Institute.
Hayek meant that governments should regulate competition to prevent the development of monopolies. One of Hayek’s more important apostles, Milton Friedman and his “Chicago boys”, disagreed, claiming that monopoly power is a reward for efficiency. Hayek later agreed.
Neo-liberalism in a nutshell
Neo-liberalism in a nutshell, is simple: Let the markets rule. Remove everything that restricts the big corporations. Big corporations are big because they are efficient (In contrast to public services). Governments and other institutions that make rules and laws restrict the big corporations and should be dismantled or minimized. All public assets and activities should be privatized. If people do not want to pay for it, it is not worth having. The person with capital, decides. Everyone else and everything else is disposable. Local communities should compete in attracting big corporations and compete for the few jobs available. Globalization means that if a product or a job is cheaper elsewhere, it must be outsourced. There is no local social contract between a corporation and a community. According to Margareth Thatcher “there is no such thing as society”.
This system was first tried out in Chile in 1973 during the US supported military coup, where the elected president Allende was murdered together with thousands of other victims. Milton Friedman, Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon were some of the powerful people supporting the junta led by colonel Pinochet. Neo-liberalism was subsequently forced on the world through union busting, coup d’états, by exploiting natural disasters and wars. Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Boris Yeltsin and Deng Xiaoping were the most prominent politicians promoting the ideology into practice.
Their slogan was: “There is no alternative.”
The ideology has possibly had some positive effects and “lifted” millions of people in e.g. China out of misery by moving polluting commodity production from the West to Asia
However, the negative impacts have now accumulated, with the rise of oligarchies, plutocracies, increasing inequality, raw exploitation of the poor, increasing frequency of financial crises, pollution, man-made global warming and depletion of ecosystems.
Donald Trump represents neo-liberalism in its extreme forms. The goal of the Trump government seems to be a curious mix of Enron corporation practices, Ku Klux Klan redneck beliefs combined with the ideology of the extremist Islamist regime in Saudi Arabia, Fossil fuel lobbies’ propaganda and Russia’s KGB/FSB surveillance community. Expressed in a nutshell, the Trumpism story can be summarized in these points:
- Markets rule and Greed is good. Money is what matters in life
- Climate change is a Chinese hoax and an international, well-orchestrated conspiracy theory. More CO2 is good for the planet!
- Nature is unlimited and there to pillage and pollute. It is hubris to even think that we small human beings have in our power to harm the big nature in any way
- White men are better. Non-white immigrants are the root cause of most problems
- Vulnerable and poor deserve their fate
- The 1% RICH deserves their golden towers
- Anything public or commonly held is sinister and should be attacked. The rich have a right to steal or pay symbolic sums for anything owned in common. Decimate the public sphere and public interests!
- International law, conventions, laws, regulations and justice are for the losers.
- Fear: We are surrounded by danger and should only look after our own
- Females’ genitals are there for the grabbing
- Be rude! Be a bully! Be a racist! Be a plutocrat! Be a xenophobe! Be a sexist! Be a narcissist! Hate minorities! Be ruthless! Split and rule! Polarize! Win at any cost! Don’t care! Honk and drive!
- Steal, deceive, lie, deny!
- The winner takes it all. I win when you get screwed
- Big corporations are always right, especially if they are Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Armaments, Big Sugar and Big Tobacco. Corporations are defined as humans and have the same rights. Monopoly is a reward for efficiency
- Science is bullshit. Never question your own level of understanding. Never question reliability, origin or validity of your sources. Go for the easy, superficial views. Refuse to build understanding and insight. Always be cocksure when presenting your conspiracy theories and your grand thoughts, while you accuse all others, in particular serious scientists and journalists of being cocksure and just produce fake news.
- Pay thousands of “think tanks”, PR-institutes and “trolls” to deceive, confuse and spread doubt and paralysis. Merchants of doubt are heroes. Ensure that independent scientific advice is systematically sidelined. Appoint incompetent persons with conflict of interest to scientific top positions. Undermine protections from hazards at work and home (hazards are just conspiracy theories). Reduce public access to reliable and valid information
- Let one determined and effective man decide. Centralize all power in society to a handful of efficient men! Democracy is superfluous. Nations should be run like corporations
- The quality and security of any society increase with the number of privately owned assault guns, private security companies and surveillance, privatized schools, health care and prisons; profits for the owners increase with the number of incarcerated. They are paid for by the taxpayers, and the system provides access slave labor in addition.
- Happiness is reckless, endlessly growing consumption of stuff. Mountains of garbage, poisonous water and polluted air and soils are signs of wealth.Maximum extraction, endless grabbing and disposing of people, stuff and the planet. Multibillionaires can migrate to Mars if our planet becomes uninhabitable.
- Through disasters, wars, deceptions and shocks; make people accept public austerity, militarized police and fight each other for scraps. Creation of high security «green zones» for billionaires, «red zones» for the rest. This has been successfully established in Bagdad, Kabul and elsewhere.
- Unions and workers’ rights are evil
- Disasters, genocide and wars are useful tools
- You are alone in this world, in competition with everybody. Unless you are a millionaire, or very lucky, you are screwed, and deserve it.
- Keep the richest of the world well organized and connected, keep all others divided and in competition with each other. Support extreme fundamentalist religious groups. They are experts in creating conflicts and fear.
- This ideology is God’s wish, as expressed in Matthew: The one who has much shall gain more, the one with little shall lose even the little he has. This political ideology will prevail worldwide, because there is no alternative. Any critical voice is fake news.
The other story: The Leap
The neoliberal era has had its time. It is claimed that it has been “useful” as pure liberalism, a negative freedom from something (royal power, nobility, centralized state power), but it is now time to say goodbye to an ideology that is getting more and more obsolete, creating more harm than good.
“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain, which fail to take the context into account, let alone the effects on human dignity and the natural environment. Here we see how environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked. Many people will deny doing anything wrong because distractions constantly dull our consciousness of just how limited and finite our world really is. As a result, “whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule” (Pope Francis, 2015)
Trumpism is a form of radicalized, right extremism, extremely dangerous and contagious. Detrumping our societies implies that we define what we really want, the opposite of the trump-society.
The rapid depletion of the world’s ecosystems, extinction of species, global warming and accelerating inequalities indicate that just saying No, and take some microscopic steps in the right direction, is not enough.
The notoriously poor governments and the necessity of austerity is a myth created by the multibillionaires. The world is rich. But priority has so far been given to tax cuts and special privileges for the rich, taking from everybody else.
Hidden under the neo-liberal rhetorical smokescreen of freedom and the free market, the real agenda lies: how to build a world-wide exploitation system where all sectors of society gather to centralize ever more power and accumulate ever more resources in the hands of the 0.1% richest men in the world.
The billionaires can no longer be prioritized. A handful of ruthless men should no longer be able to control most of the world’s resources. That time is over.
The Leap can be summarized in the following points:
- Governments must base their decisions on honestly made judgements supported by evidence. Any government must be responsible, accountable, predictable and transparent.
- Economic activities cannot be harmful to our ecosystems or the prosperity of future generations
- Public services are beneficial. Appropriate and efficient common infrastructures, waste management and public transport are too important to hand over to the whims of private businesses. Approximate free health and dental care for all
- Progressive carbon tax on all fossil energy. Abolish fossil fuel subsidies and other kinds of support to fossil energy. Divest! Get out of your addiction to fossil energy as quickly as possible. Devise and promote new green technologies and ensure massive adoption of renewable energy sources. Prioritize non-fossil fuel jobs;
- Energy democracy: 100% renewable energy produced and owned by local communities within the next 30 years
- Our political systems must be fully representative, all have a vote, and every vote counts. The outcomes cannot be bought or manipulated.
- Guaranteed universal, minimum income for all over 18 years. All other social support systems and public benefits with associated bureaucracy, control entities and meaningless jobs and courses are removed.
- Free education for all. Education must be of high quality. It should be a joyful, motivating process, where collaboration, creativity, research, critical information literacy, discovery and real competence are highly valued. Lifelong learning must be encouraged.
- Fertility rates must be further reduced by ensuring that women and men have access to education and voluntary family-planning services. Increase outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature;
- Priority given to investments in sectors that improve quality of life, creating more caring societies. Important values are: Generosity, hospitality, warmth, decency, empathy, wisdom
- Establish and develop well-funded and well-managed reserves for a significant proportion of the world’s terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habitats
- Prioritize public transport that runs on renewable energy! Pay CO2 compensation when you fly! Reduce your use of plastic. All plastics to be either biodegradable or banned. Reduce your ecological footprint! Promote dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods
- Abolish tax havens. Prosecute tax evaders who steal from all of us
- Our commons are strictly regulated. Individuals have no right to exploit, foul or destroy what is owned by the community
- No tax on labor. Tax on consumption, property, financial transactions, fortunes, land and use of commons such as air, water, soil, minerals and other raw material and anything that depletes our ecosystems
- All human beings are equal for the law. Justice for all must prevail. Corporations cannot have human rights.
- The subsidiary principle prevails: all decisions are taken at the most appropriate, lowest levels. Power is democratized and decentralized. Democracy means participation and being connected. Everyone must have equal access to relevant information needed for meaningful democratic choices
- Demilitarize police, cut military expenses, cut arms production, close all military bases and minimize or stop arms exports. Move resources to peaceful, non-violent conflict resolution through research, education, journalism and practical implementation and to measures that promote social security for all
- Ecologically responsible and regenerative agricultural systems
- Genuine corporate social and environment responsibility. Environment and society before profit. Economic externalities must be internalized: Negative environmental and social side-effects of production and products are the responsibility of the producer, not the public
- When you take, take care and give back
- Value everyone, not just the very rich with ”correct” skin color.
- Stop siloizing knowledge. A more holistic perspectives!
- Stop fighting each other. Organize in global, collaborating networks.
- No more small steps. Leap! Organize LEAP groups!
Thanks to the following for good advice and tips:
Gibran Alberto Cruz Martinez, Dagfinn Haavik, Kari Tuseth, Jan Bjørke, the Wednesday club in Arendal. Jo Davis
Global cooperation, networking, solidarity
The Leap manifesto: Caring for the Earth and one another
The Leap began in 2015 with the launch of The Leap Manifesto: 15 political demands from a coalition of 60 social movement leaders across Canada. It offered an inspiring, big-picture narrative for an energy transition based in principles of justice, human rights, and worker solidarity http://portside.org/2017-08-14/leap-manifesto-world-based-caring-earth-and-one-another
Out of the wreckage
A toxic ideology rules the world – of extreme competition and individualism. It misrepresents human nature, destroying hope and common purpose. Only a positive vision can replace it, a new story that re-engages people in politics and lights a path to a better world. Monbiot, G (2017) Out of the wreckage. A new politics for an age of crisis, Versobooks http://www.monbiot.com/2017/08/01/out-of-the-wreckage-2/
No is not enough. Trump the master of disaster
Klein’s new study in shock politics is a warning of the enormous toxic potential of the Trump presidency and a call to oppose it. Refusal needs to turn into resistance
Naomi Klein (2017) No is not enough https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jun/22/no-is-not-enough-naomi-klein-donald-trump
End use of fossil fuels
Canadian activists and artists back Leap Manifesto’s call to end fossil fuel use (The Guardian, 2015) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/15/canada-leap-manifesto-fossil-fuels-naomi-klein
Pope Francis (2015) Encyclical letter Laudato Si – on care for our common home
Our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will.
Towards a brighter future
Despite turmoil and breakdown in society and new populist leaders that frighten us we are heading towards a brighter future. This time is the last gasp of an age of selfishness and short-sightedness. It’s difficult to see the big picture when we are in the middle of a storm, but a storm will always calm. And in the long run, love always wins Grini, J.H. (2017) Towards a brighter future https://www.gaiainnovations.org/book/
The story of stuff community
We have a problem with Stuff. We use too much, too much of it is toxic and we don’t share it very well. But that’s not the way things have to be. Together, we can build a society based on better not more, sharing not selfishness, community not division. https://storyofstuff.org/
Japan for sustainability
For a Happy, Sustainable Future. Initiatives from Japan. For the World. Human well-being is threatened today by global environmental deterioration, social vulnerability, and economic uncertainty. Our challenge is to consider not only sustainability and future generations on our planet, but also how to make our livelihoods and communities more resilient today. https://www.japanfs.org/index.html
Change Europe: Vote Green!
Common manifesto for the European Green parties
The Great Transition Initiative
An online forum of ideas and an international network for the critical exploration of concepts, strategies, and visions for a transition to a future of enriched lives, human solidarity, and a resilient biosphere. By enhancing scholarly discourse and public awareness of possibilities arising from converging social, economic, and environmental crises, and by fostering a broad network of thinkers and doers, it aims to contribute to a new praxis for global transformation. http://greattransition.org/
Climate, environment and science
10 Ways to Be a Better Environmental Steward in 2018
Carl Sagan on Humility, Science as a Tool of Democracy, and the Value of Uncertainty https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/11/09/carl-sagan-science-democracy/
The Very Real Threat of Climate Catastrophe. Christian Parenti discusses the role of both politics and the state in the climate crisis. https://www.alternet.org/environment/christian-parenti-prospect-climate-catastrophe
Suzuki (2018) We ignore urgent global warnings at our peril https://davidsuzuki.org/story/ignore-urgent-global-warnings-peril/
Global warming https://agreenerfutureblog.wordpress.com/2-global-warming/
Authoritative sources on global warming https://agreenerfutureblog.wordpress.com/2-global-warming/2-1-authoritative-sources/
BioScience (2017) World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice
What Will It Really Take to Avoid Collapse?
It’s Not Too Late: A Climate Change New Year’s Resolution
Stand up for science. Union of concerned scientists
UCS (2018) Attacks on Science https://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/attacks-on-science#.Wkp-TrpFzY8
Sidelining Science Since Day One. How the Trump administration has harmed public health and safety in its first six months
Quality of life, prosperity, safety
Monbiot (2017) Don’t let the rich get even richer on the assets we all share
The Secret to Wealth and Prosperity for Any Society. Making sure parents get to decide when they want to have children is a proven strategy for communities’ well-being. https://www.alternet.org/personal-health/secret-prosperity-family-planning-cascadia
Monbiot, G (2017) Out of the wreckage. A new politics for an age of crisis, Versobooks http://www.monbiot.com/2017/08/01/out-of-the-wreckage-2/
Ugo Colombino (2015) Is unconditional basic income a viable alternative to other social welfare measures? Countries give basic education and health care to everyone, and for good reasons—why not basic income?
OECD (2017) Basic income as a policy option – substitute of some cash transfer programs
Scott Santens: Basic income for all http://www.scottsantens.com/
A greener future
It’s Boom Times for Billionaires. Around the world, the labor of poor people fuels the rising concentration of wealth.
IPS (2018) Wealth Concentration Continues to Increase
Community, commons, public services
Monbiot, G. (2016) The fortifying commons http://www.monbiot.com/2016/12/15/the-fortifying-commons/
Quality education – the opposite of charter schools
Why Education Must Come Back to Nature
How We Can Reimagine and Reinvent Our Society in the Coming Year. Let’s say goodbye to top-down revolutions and embrace grassroots action. https://www.alternet.org/local-peace-economy/we-can-reimagine-and-reinvent-our-society-2018
Let’s Make 2018 the Year We Rise Up and Regenerate!
Out of fossil fuel addiction, divesting
New York Takes Giant Step to Divest From Fossil Fuels
France Approves World’s First Ban on Fracking and Oil Production (Dec 2017) https://www.ecowatch.com/france-fracking-ban-2518885658.html
Green economy, transformation
Capitalism is losing support. It is time for a new deal https://medium.com/world-economic-forum/capitalism-is-losing-support-it-is-time-for-a-new-deal-5d0ca7992ad0
A Powerful Economic Justice Movement Is Brewing, Even in This Dark Time. An American Democracy Movement is fighting brutal capitalism and the culture of blame.
Suzuki, D. (2018) Consumer society no longer serves our needs https://davidsuzuki.org/story/consumer-society-no-longer-serves-needs/
Suzuki, D. (2017) Long work hours don’t work for people or the planet https://davidsuzuki.org/story/long-work-hours-dont-work-for-people-or-the-planet/
Books on climate change and economics (Yale, 2018)
With mounting costs of damages associated at least in part with a warming climate comes increasing author, writer, and publisher interest in climate change economics.
As the Trump Administration Continues to Threaten the Planet, This Is No Time to Be Complacent. As the days get darker, we must keep the flame burning. https://www.alternet.org/environment/trump-administration-continues-threaten-planet-no-time-be-complacent
Hope Trumps Nope: A Blueprint for Resistance https://www.ecowatch.com/naomi-klein-blueprint-resistance-2517475057.html
Trumpism is the personification of deception and fake news production. Train yourself in detecting fake news. https://globaldigitalcitizen.org/5-questions-detecting-fake-news
Fight Harder and Smarter Against Trumpism. While we ensure that lesser evils replace the worst evils, we also have to insist that no matter who is in power, our demands for social, racial, gender, environmental and economic justice be met. https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/fight-harder-and-smarter-against-trumpism
7 Times Trump Man-Crushed on Putin. Yet the president’s geopolitical bromance goes unrequited https://www.alternet.org/7-times-trump-man-crushed-putin
Trump, White House officials bounce along to Saudi sword dance
Trump Is a Master Game-Changer, but Not the Kind You May Think. Trump is the perfect cover for the billionares’ plan to change the American game https://www.alternet.org/culture/another-kind-game-changer
Donald Trump Is Forging an America as Greedy, Deceitful and Cruel as Its President https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/donald-trump-forging-america-greedy-deceitful-and-cruel-its-president
The Dumbing Down of America – By Design
The Real State of the Union: 6 Ways Trump Is Bad for Food, Health and the Environment
Trump has gutted regulations meant to protect our food and ecosystems.
Trump’s First Year Has Been the Private Prison Industry’s Best. The Trump administration has been a godsend for the private prison industry https://www.alternet.org/human-rights/trumps-first-year-has-been-private-prison-industrys-best
It’s Going to Be a Good Year for the Merchants of Death. From nuclear weapons to handguns, “arms control” increasingly seems like a concept from another century. https://www.alternet.org/human-rights/2018-looks-arms-bonanza
Is Trump an ‘Aspiring Despot’ or a ‘Bumbling Showman’? Why Not Both? Author Brian Klaas warns the damage of Trump’s presidency will last a generation. https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/trump-aspiring-despot-or-bumbling-showman-why-not-both
It’s Ayn Rand’s America Now, Thanks to the GOP. Conservatism has turned itself into a civic religion and columnist Neal Gabler fears the damages wrought in the Trump era will be permanent and lasting.
The Koch Brothers Are Plotting a Right-Wing Takeover of America’s Judicial System
The billionaire magnates have their eyes on the Supreme Court, and that’s not all.
Jimmy Carter: The U.S. Is an “Oligarchy With Unlimited Political Bribery” http://www.globalpossibilities.org/jimmy-carter-the-u-s-is-an-oligarchy-with-unlimited-political-bribery/
And What About Trump, the Sexual-Predator-in-Chief: This Must-See Video Needs to Go Viral https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/11/16/1716242/-And-What-About-Trump-the-Sexual-Predator-in-Chief-This-Must-See-Video-Needs-to-Go-Viral
Trump Is Really Trying to Set the World on Fire. And the whole world burns. https://www.alternet.org/right-wing/rebecca-gordon-trump-flamethrower-rebecca-gordon
Klaas (2017) The despot’s apprentice: Donald Trump’s attack on democracy, ‘The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy’, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJquFsro8WQ | https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/57795369-the-despot-s-apprentice-donald-trump-s-attack-on-democracy
Yes, America, There is a Class War, and You Just Lost It
Koch-Funded Anti-Climate Group Tells Women to Ignore Concerns About Toxic Chemicals. A chemical industry front group defends the freedom of corporations to pollute. https://www.alternet.org/environment/koch-funded-anti-climate-group-tells-women-ignore-concerns-about-toxic-chemicals
How Big Oil Lost Control of Its Climate Misinformation Machine. One of the longest and most consequential campaigns against science in modern history is becoming more extreme—and turning against its originators https://insideclimatenews.org/news/22122017/big-oil-heartland-climate-science-misinformation-campaign-koch-api-trump-infographic
Trump the twitter fan. But who really controls Twitter?
This Saudi prince now owns more of Twitter than Jack Dorsey does
Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/aug/18/neoliberalism-the-idea-that-changed-the-world
Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems
Savio, R, (2018) Billionaires, Fiscal Paradise, the World’s Debt, and the Victims, IPS http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/01/billionaires-fiscal-paradise-worlds-debt-victims/
Shock therapy in economics https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shock_therapy_(economics)
Kapitalismen som katastrof
It’s Boom Times for Billionaires. Around the world, the labor of poor people fuels the rising concentration of wealth
Can We Stop Pretending to Take Libertarians Seriously, Now?
The oligarchy’s rule of law: From Boris Yeltsin’s Russia to Oklahoma http://exiledonline.com/the-oligarchys-rule-of-law-from-boris-yeltsin%E2%80%99s-russia-to-aubrey-mcclendon%E2%80%99s-oklahoma/
Rutland (2012) Neoliberalism and the Russian transition http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09692290.2012.727844
Billington (1992): The real crimes of China’s ZhaoZiyang http://www.larouchepub.com/eiw/public/1992/eirv19n07-19920214/eirv19n07-19920214_022-the_real_crimes_of_chinas_zhao_z.pdf
Do not be fooled! Follow the money trail!
Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich by Chrystia Freeland – review (Guardian 2013) https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/08/plutocrats-rise-new-global-super-rich-review
Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else https://www.amazon.com/Plutocrats-Rise-Global-Super-Rich-Everyone/dp/0143124064