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Neoliberal globalization

from Ted Trainer and current RWER issue

The conventional approach to development assumes that movement towards a single unified global economic system is desirable. This is seen as providing greater access for all to markets, productive and export opportunities and sources of imports. Globalization involves reducing impediments to trade and investment such as tariffs, protection, subsidies and government intervention in the market. The pressure is on economies and individuals to produce for sale into the global economy in order to earn the income needed to purchase from it. 

This arrangement has significant benefits but it forces all nations, regions and individuals into competing in the one market and many inevitably fail to do this very effectively. Nations must focus on selling whatever resources they have cheaply. The poorest people and regions, and some entire countries, especially in Africa and the Pacific, are largely irrelevant to the interests of transnational corporations and therefore cannot expect much investment or development. They have no cheap resources to attract foreign investors and could not compete in export markets if they did.

Globalization is in the interests of rich nations and their corporations because it increases their freedom of access to resources and consumers in all countries. It involves leaving development to market forces, which in effect means that there will only be development of whatever it suits the corporations to develop.

A large literature has now accumulated documenting the damaging effects neoliberal globalization has had on many people and nations.


  1. April 30, 2021 at 1:54 pm

    Humanity stands at the brink of extinction. It matter naught whether one is Republican or Democrat, American or Chinese, small country or big. Survival requires more input from more people. We need to hear and discuss as many good ideas as possible, to open the door for wisdom gained from ordinary people’s wide ranging experience.

    Examine briefly how Americans came to be in its precarious insecure social and national condition. Start with democracy as a concept. What is it? This subject needs to be discussed.

    Representative democracy is different from plain democracy. Democracy itself needs no descriptive adjective and grows with human advances. Representative democracy is a form of government that quite obviously tends to concentrate wealthy people at the top simply because a major function of representative democracy is to represent capital. Periodic election campaigns compete with plans to grow the economy and make good jobs, from which capitalists get their percentage as profit. It all seems normal and straight-forward but there’s a major hitch; Capitalism is designed to grow faster and faster forever. Earth does not grow and capitalism must grow.

    Believe it or not; Earth has already reached its limit of pollution recycling capacity. The result is human life is facing extinction. Representative democracy alone cannot solve the very problem it is designed to make by supporting capitalist growth. A new form of democracy is needed to be standing in the wings and ready to begin work on survival. The people’s referendum is one part of the model from which future government forms will develop. Representative democracy is not something to discard, it is a functional companion in a dynamic nuanced relationship with popular referenda decided upon by we the people acting on our own initiative.

    America’s founding fathers had no models to follow other than royalty, a hint of democracy for rich english business owners, and the ancient slave powered democracies of Rome and Greece. Women were considered second class citizens, at best; many men considered women as personal property. Although the yoke of slavery was removed from white males, it was placed knowingly upon women and people with brown skin. Economic wage slavery was a different story; it continues to this day for everyone but the rich. Benefits to wealth from wage slavery remain the underlying reason for efforts to limit democracy as well as opposition to improving it.

    The continuing struggle by wealthy people to limit democracy is not taught to us in school when we are young. If we continue formal education as we grow older, one of our required courses is introduction to economics. There we are indoctrinated into believing unregulated free markets tend toward equilibrium by balancing supply and demand. Scratch the surface and see economics is not based on facts or science; It posits people as consuming units possessing all the facts about every product and choosing what to buy rationally based on a price tending toward equilibrium set by supply and demand. This entire economic picture taught to millions of students is management propaganda.

    In reality, privatized resources are extracted from our planet, which is a small bubble of life zooming through space nestled inside our galaxy. Commercial and public waste is dumped into oceans and air and onto lands of spaceship Earth. We are taught that somehow an unregulated free market will magically settle into equilibrium that grants maximum health and happiness to our species. Really? All we need to do is think of Hans Christian Anderson’s naked king seen through the untrained eyes of a child to see equilibrium is not even possible. Imagine driving on an unregulated freeway and one is fairly close to understanding globalized unregulated free market economics.

    We approach the abyss of extinction and need to honestly examine representative democracy as that which has governed to this point. None of us but the truly weird want the US to continue on the path of war with Russia, China and a long list of other fictional enemies. Eternal war, chemical pollution, plastic molecules mixed in with our protein molecules and global climate collapse are happening now during governance by representative democracies that represent capital.

    Explore constituentassembly.org to learn and think about modern ideas of democracy. The people’s initiative is one option for avoiding disaster but it cannot govern without representative deliberations. We need both. A real patriot will help invent a modern democracy wise enough to avoid war and pollution of Earth.

  2. Ikonoclast
    May 1, 2021 at 12:00 am

    We are on the horns of a dilemma. Our current way of life is not sustainable (not even nearly sustainable) but we have built populations up to a level which cannot be sustained in any seriously simpler way. De-growth perforce must involve de-population on a “mega” scale. How many humans could live in a simpler and sustainable way in 2050? Given that we have greatly damaged all earth systems, the earth’s sustainable carrying capacity is now much less than it was even in the relatively recent past. We are massively in overshoot, the phase before the Seneca Cliff collapse. Global population is projected to rise to nearly 10 billion by 2050. Given the size and imminence of the coming collapse this projection of a peak is likely to be off by a factor of 10. We are more likely looking at a global population of 1 billion in 2050 or at least by 2100.

    Limits to Growth modelling has proven disturbingly accurate so far. Great calumnies were perpetrated against LTG both after its publication and then on or about the year 2000. This latter boiled down to the claim that LTG had predicted collapse by the year 2000. Collapse had not happened so therefore LTG projections were wrong and its systems analysis methods were flawed. This was a complete misrepresentation but this lie ran around the world before truth could put its boots on. What LTG actually predicted was that IF we did not halt growth by 2000 we would collapse by about 2050. That is a quite different prediction. Since we did not halt growth by 2000, but rather greatly accelerated it from about 1990 to the present day, we are now in the position of heading for a collapse, or rather a series of sequential collapses, not just by 2050 but well before 2050.

    The original Limits to Growth report in 1972 stated in conclusion:

    “If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.”

    On a strict reading of that passage, a “sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity” will occur before by of before 2072. Revisiting the model and updating it with all scientific knowledge advances since 1972 has only confirmed and strengthened this warning. As with climate change, the real world system is destabilizing towards collapse much FASTER than all the modelling has predicted, even with the most pessimistic parameters plugged into the models.

    Controlled and graceful de-growth is already a pipe-dream. The neoliberal ,capitalist, planet-wreckers have already seen to that. The growth orgy from 1990 onward has made it a fait accompli. I do not put forward these facts to encourage despair or further the cause of “partying while the earth burns”. In the first place, I prefer realism to fantasy no matter how bad the facts are. Indeed, the facts are even worse than I have outlined above.

    It is risky to simply assume “good faith” from humans but especially from the elites. They, or the most intelligent among them, must already have realized how bad things are. Thus they must already be planning for catastrophic de-growth, with an attempted landing for them on their terms. In addition, the principle of offensive realism will operate in full expression in a resource constrained and then collapsing world. That is to say, powerful states will operate offensively and aggressively in their own self-interest. The great power nation which collapses slowest will become differentially or relatively the most powerful and achieve longer survival over peer competitors. This is assuming losers don’t push the nuclear button. The winner does not upset the chess board after all.

    Where is the hope in all this? It’s very hard to see. The religious must take hope from next world thinking or from death as nirvana (cessation of suffering). The fully secular must focus on one day at a time and fighting the “long defeat” as Tolkien put it. The “long defeat” is the battle all mortals lose against mortality itself. Of course, the “long defeat” may soon be the rapid defeat for many.

    My overall view is that homo sapiens (we humans) are incapable of truly moral and equitable conduct at the sufficient and sustained level necessary to develop a wise, free and sustainable civilization. Power will always corrupt homo sapiens and absolute power corrupts them, or rather us, absolutely as Lord Acton wrote. This is not a complete counsel of despair. Yes, the extinction of homo sapiens is now a possibility. However, another possibility is available through biological evolution. Humans in creating tools, technologies and civilizations and in altering the earth and climate (even for the worse as is currently the case) have ensured that human biological evolution continues (except if we outright extinct ourselves). Humans of today are not the same as humans of 100,000 years ago and not even the same as humans of 10,000 years ago in certain ways. Evolution has and does continue.

    If pockets of humans survive this collapse, human evolution will continue. If it continues long enough our descendants will no longer be homo sapiens but a new species which could not even produce viable offspring with homo sapiens. Only in that way could we possibly escape our current evolved nature which is still so inadequately adapted to genuine intelligent and moral survival. A propensity to mindless violence mixed with significant but still not sufficient intelligence is a poor and maladaptive mix. That is the point modern humans have reached. Let us hope that in an evolutionary sense we eventually adapt out of the severe biological limitations of our current evolved nature. It’s the only hope for intelligent, civilizational life on planet earth.

    Humans may need to evolve more, quite literally in the biological evolutionary sense, to be capable of genuine democratic socialism and genuine ethical treatment of other humans and the biosphere. Such an evolutionary change is possible though not necessarily likely. It could take place in as little as 1,000 to 1,250 years, or about 50 generations, under the very strong evolutionary pressures which will certainly occur over the next several centuries.

    Of course, there is no absolute guarantee we would evolve to get wiser and kinder if we escape extinction. It could go the other way. However, the feminisation inherent in taming wild animals, and thus also inherent in taming humans, which latter process is performed by civilization and its processes, appears likely to continue in humans if some form of civilization is maintained. This process is referred to as the self-domestication of humans. There is no reason to suppose our evolutionary self-domestication is over yet, unless we foolishly extinct ourselves in the next hundred years or are returned to complete barbarism by collapse.

    So, the only hope I see is in the emergent / evolutionary space. Human agency and intelligence are not sufficient to this task; necessary but not sufficient. Why do I see hope in feminisation? This hope relates to the reduction of instinctive, undisciplined aggression and greed/selfishness/acquisitiveness and the better control of disciplined agression and fair allocation. It also relates to the propensity to nurture rather than exploit and pillage (neighboring groups and nature). The further feminisation of human nature and especially of males (all of which has already occurred to some extent in human evolution to date) would need to continue under the feed-back refelxivity of civlization and human evolution altering each other. This does not presuppose any deliberate eugenics which would be a mistake and quite antithetical to evolutionary processes as such. Evolution is smarter than intelligence in the sense that it explores far more possibilities and combinations than intelligence can envisage.

  3. May 1, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    Gareth and Ikonoclast have developed Ted Trainer’s initial conclusion in very different ways:

    “A large literature has now accumulated documenting the damaging effects neoliberal
    globalization has had on many people and nations. Alternative/appropriate development is not
    possible unless governments exercise significant levels of control and regulation over their
    economies, trade, foreign investment etc. Its core principle contradicts globalization;
    appropriate development must be local”.

    I totally agree with the need for localisation (c.f. isolation vs. big money “test and trace” in Covid 19 epidemiology). So Gareth sees we need local government (already proposed in 1931 in the principle of “subsidiarity”) but Ikonoclast sees this happening on evolutionary rather than human development timescales: rightly seeing ” Evolution is smarter than intelligence in the sense that it explores far more possibilities and combinations than intelligence can envisage”, but pinning his hopes on the nurturing instincts of females.

    One of my own inspirations has been a book written at the start of the Hitler war by Dorothy L Sayers, “Begin Here”, to “suggest some creative line of action along which they [her readers] , as individuals, can think and work towards the restoration of Europe”. That was eventually the post-war European Economic Community, built on subsidiarist principles, which the US empire’s British “Trojan horse” neo-liberalised into the current [failing] EU: not seeing (as has recently been said) that Britain’s only success has been its Commonwealth.

    Appreciating Ikonoclast’s comment, I’ve just been reading Barbara Reynold’s biography of Sayers, which has taught me more than has sixty years’ marriage about how women think, and how feminine education and the menopause can release their creativity. There is, however, hope also in the fact that human development acts more quickly than evolution. “Natural” family planning and genetic education already offer the well-informed alternatives to the Malthusian politics and eugenic policies of population control, but because the young are rarely well-informed, the local feedback channels required for self-control need to be built into the way we do things, i.e. we need to set local targets so we are able to see how well the community is achieving them and allow for the plans of others, including their territorial and instrumental needs. These include ownership, care, education and what Sayers is particularly strong on: providing for our diversity of creative interests.

    This last is incompatible with the freedom sought by Capitalists to mass produce, which is again to agree with what Ted Trainer said. Like Covid-19 and its cures, production needs to be localised and not licensed for mass production unless shown to be advantageous and safe.

  4. Ken Zimmerman
    May 2, 2021 at 11:36 pm

    This all sounds cataclysmic. But I remind everyone that our species survived the last ice age with a much smaller population base and by today’s standards primitive technology. The humans of 20,000 years also had not yet developed agriculture, metallurgy, or writing. They outlasted a 10,000 year ice age. Baring that humans don’t blow up the planet, a segment of Sapiens will carry on. The major uncertainty is will this small group include sufficient genetic diversity for our species to continue. In this scenario Sapiens survives but its numbers are reduced by 90 percent or more.

  5. Edward Ross
    May 5, 2021 at 11:39 am

    there is a great deal here that i want to comment but have computer problems
    I found a lot of exelant information in the book Political Ideologies published Hutchinson1984 there is a particularly good section by Richard day p153 on democracy what i found interesting was he was advocating in his time solutions that are still needed today TED

  6. Edward Ross
    May 5, 2021 at 11:57 am

    Eg he asks the question First are governments accountable to the people only in the final analysis or does popular sovereignty entail a continuous and extensive involvement by the people decision in political decision making? Jean-Jacqes Rousseau (1712-78) one of the great of democracy claimed that a truly democratic society ideally required full participation by all citizens in all aspects of public life. my point here is that the debate on what is democracy has been going on for a very long time which indicates to me that failure to continually watch how democracy is manipulated allows vested interested interests to manipulate democratic principles for their ends Ted

  7. Edward Ross
    May 5, 2021 at 12:17 pm

    Jay opened with “Dictatorship or oligarchic rule is always thrice cursed i. It curses him who rules by the poison of absolute power It curses him who submits to such a rule by the loss of liberty that it involves and by the resulting injury to personality. And it curses government itself by depriving it of the contribution of the common man—In order to be well governed the governed must themselves take part in government..J.A.Hobson Democracy.democracy (London1934)PP76-7
    (Politicians appreciate a phraseology that flatters the masses and offers an excellent opportunity for evading responsibility but also for crushing opponents in the name of the people. Joseph Schumpter, capitalism socialism and democracy (London1952 p268
    So come-on let us deal with one of the most important issues of our time Ted

  8. Edward Ross
    May 6, 2021 at 12:53 am

    i will try and correct Rousseau(1712) on of the great theorist

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