Monday, March 19, 2012

388: The Utopia of the Free Market - Neoliberalism

A utopia is not a collection of individual daydreams or abstract expectations about the future. A utopia has quite different features.

A utopia is characterized by three features according to the Dutch philosopher Hans Achterhuis(1942 - …). A utopia is a description of (1) a society, which (2) is doable and (3) is a totality, covering all aspects of life.

This leads to an interesting observation. Through history there have been described many Utopias, but hardly never a liberal one. That is to say, until Ayn Rand.

While liberalism is focused on the individual, a utopia is almost always a description of a society to which the individual has to conform.

So this confronts us with the question: does there exist a liberal utopia? To answer this question we have to make a difference between classic liberalism with names like John Locke (1632 - 1704) and Adam Smith (1723 -1790), who indeed never wrote a utopia

and neoliberalism, that was ardently propagated by Ayn Rand and described in a thoroughbred utopia: "Atlas Shrugged".

Later I'll dig deeper in the historical backgrounds of classic liberalism and neoliberalism, but already a few observations.

Classic liberalism from the 19th center made a sharp distinction between public and private, between state and society.

Current neoliberalism knows only private interests and regards the state as a kind of superior insurance company for private interests.

Neoliberalism assumes that the free market is more capable to organize economic affairs than organizations, which are under government control.

This is the real utopia of neoliberalism, which based on the assumption that it is a good thing to transform governmental tasks into private businesses: healthcare, hospitals, postal services, national railways and public transportation, telephone communication.

Here you see the utopian dimension of neoliberalism at work, which believes in the rather implausible metaphysics of the intrinsic harmony of all private interests on the free market.

And exactly this is the quintessence of the new ideal society, which Ayn Rand describes in 'Atlas Shrugged' and in which Allen Greenspan deeply believed till 2006.

As an economist he saw that things were going wrong, but as a believer he persisted in the conviction that the free market would correct itself.

And a utopian believer he was. When he officially was appointed by Ronald Reagan as President of the Federal Reserve Bank, it was not his wife who stood next to him in the Oval Office, but Ayn Rand.

Completely in line with this development are Ronald Reagan's words (US President 1981 - 1989)"
"Government is not the solution to our problem,. Government IS the problem. "

In several studies on utopian theories, researchers note a frequently occurring resemblance: lust and greed have disappeared and the use of money is abolished.

This in absolute contrast with the ideal Atlantis in "Atlas Shrugged". In Rand's Atlantis it is precisely the virtue of greed, that is praised and money becomes the symbol of success, achieved happiness and success.

With her utopia Ayn Rand did not only attack the communist collectivism, which she had fled in 1932, but in fact also the Western European welfare state, which was based on a deep sense of solidarity.

And under the influence of the neoliberal utopia of the free market we have to face the steady dismantling of this kind of society.

And if you really want to witness the delusion of the free market utopia just watch this Youtube URL and associated URLs:

The Discussion

[13:27] herman Bergson: You have 10 minutes to watch it....:-)
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: damn now my computer hates me
[13:27] Mick Nerido: In US neoliberalism is called Right wing or Conservatism
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: ok ill check it
[13:27] Merlin Saxondale: yeah, unexpected... need to put sound on
[13:27] herman Bergson: Yes Mick and the summit is theTea Party movement
[13:28] Merlin Saxondale: With things like this, most of the information is conveyed in the sound
[13:28] herman Bergson: and from now on the floor is yours
[13:29] Merlin Saxondale: In UK there is a Liberal Party.....
[13:29] Merlin Saxondale: It is not the liberalism you describe but it is somewhat left of centre
[13:30] herman Bergson: Oh Yes..,and Margret Thatcher was the neoliberal pur sang in the UK
[13:30] herman Bergson: a dear friend of Ronald Reagan
[13:30] Merlin Saxondale: yes but she was in the Conservative party, not the Liberals
[13:31] Merlin Saxondale: It is the Conservatives who fit your description of liberals
[13:31] herman Bergson: The conservatives are the neoliberals I would say
[13:31] oola Neruda: i see government as being a referee ... necessary regulations... because of the potential of one state to harm another state across borders
[13:31] herman Bergson: Indeed Merlin
[13:31] Mick Nerido: Reagen was a conservative Republican
[13:31] Merlin Saxondale: But there seems to be no agreement on the terminology
[13:32] oola Neruda: also that with big money, elections in states can be "bought" for selfish interests
[13:32] herman Bergson: don't look at the terms, look at their actions....
[13:32] Merlin Saxondale: Of course, but we need to agree on the meanings of words we use in order to communicate
[13:32] oola Neruda: you pollute the mississippi pollute the whole river to new orleans
[13:33] herman Bergson: Yes oola....a poor man will never make it in any election in the US, I guess
[13:33] oola Neruda: we NEED government
[13:33] herman Bergson: yes....
[13:33] oola Neruda: if it is not bought and paid for
[13:33] Farv Hallison: LTCM
[13:33] herman Bergson: but the big discussion is between government and private interest and freedom
[13:34] herman Bergson: the balance
[13:34] Merlin Saxondale: I have an issue about the ability of a single person to have huge influence too
[13:34] herman Bergson: well..Merlin...yet it is a historical fact.....
[13:35] Farv Hallison: Let people or banks gamble with their own money.
[13:35] herman Bergson: Galilei, Kepler, Newton, Descartes, Einstein..etc....
[13:35] oola Neruda: on a positive note...there IS a single person who will shortly be having an influence upon the problems in Uganda
[13:35] herman Bergson: Single brains that produced something very influential
[13:35] oola Neruda: and it is a relief to see it happen... renews hope
[13:36] Merlin Saxondale: But the time and the population has to be ready, receptive
[13:36] herman Bergson: The problem is Farv..that banks have no own money...
[13:36] herman Bergson: It is what we put into the bank that they have
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: basically they take our money for their own wallets
[13:37] Mick Nerido: The pendulum swings back and forth between liberal views and conservative in government
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: as i said before , before in time banks and companies were for the people now its the other way around
[13:37] herman Bergson: The metaphor is attractive Mick..but if it is true?
[13:37] Bejiita Imako: they don't care about giving service only to take our money
[13:38] Bejiita Imako: the service is only there as a bait sort of at least with some companies it seems so
[13:38] herman Bergson: Well...
[13:39] herman Bergson: at least we can conclude that we live in an aera, which is driven politically by the utopia of the free market...
[13:39] herman Bergson: This free market is not a natural phenomenon...
[13:39] herman Bergson: we invented it...
[13:39] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:39] herman Bergson: and it doesn't work...
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: and its not living up to what they say it seems
[13:40] Mick Nerido: Think of your money is on loan to a bank which gives u Interest in return
[13:40] Farv Hallison: the market is not free
[13:40] herman Bergson: neither did the total absence of a free market work under communist regimes
[13:40] herman Bergson: So we have to investigate alternatives
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: as said here in sweden we see scary examples of that, trains getting more expensive to ride and that never come in time if at all is one example ¨
[13:40] Bejiita Imako: of this selling out to private hysteria
[13:40] herman Bergson: the balance between collective and private property
[13:41] Farv Hallison: Would it helpto return to the gold standard?
[13:41] Qwark Allen: for what i understand about Ayn Rand, the flaw in this neoliberal try was the lack of regulation
[13:41] herman Bergson: Well Bejiita in the Netherlands we see the same...
[13:41] Qwark Allen: the free market should had regulation
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: aa yes seem to be same phenomenon everywhere
[13:41] herman Bergson: We never had problems with our national railways...
[13:41] Bejiita Imako: not a good development in general for sure
[13:41] Merlin Saxondale: In UK the prices are rising, but the service is improving
[13:41] Qwark Allen: that was the purpose of the government
[13:42] herman Bergson: Since it is privatized there only needs to fall some snow and the system breaks down
[13:42] herman Bergson: Lack of maintenance....etc...
[13:42] Merlin Saxondale: lol
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: here in sweden we can soon get nowhere even the gasoline have been extremley expensive the train is even more, soon we cant afford to go anywhere
[13:42] Merlin Saxondale: That has been a problem here too... leaves on the line is the classic one
[13:42] Bejiita Imako: and we need to get around to work etc
[13:43] herman Bergson: Ah yes Merlin Autumn leaves.....a killer for the system, though it never has been
[13:43] herman Bergson: tilll they became a private enterprise
[13:43] Merlin Saxondale: hehehe
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: ㋡
[13:44] herman Bergson: To invest in maintenance costs money and reduces the profits....and the profits is the wholly Grael of each enterprise
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: aa nindeed they don't service as they should at all, drinking coffee and heave in money instead
[13:44] Bejiita Imako: sort of
[13:45] Bejiita Imako: the actual service comes in 2nd or even 3rd hand
[13:45] Merlin Saxondale: I did not like nationalization either, but what I really don't like is Monopoly
[13:45] herman Bergson: Well....I guess we'll have a lot to discuss still
[13:45] oola Neruda: many years ago, they did a study...what would make people conserve (gas, resources, etc)
[13:45] herman Bergson: But let us save it for further lectures
[13:45] oola Neruda: the best answer they came up with is higher prices
[13:45] herman Bergson: May I thank you for your participation again....
[13:46] herman Bergson: Class dismissed
[13:46] oola Neruda: people don't do it voluntarily in enough numbers
[13:46] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[13:46] Qwark Allen: thank you
[13:46] Qwark Allen: was extremely interesting
[13:46] Bejiita Imako: but the problem is then we would just be sitting in our homes not getting to work or anything, we need alternative fuels thats cheap together with cheaper vehicles and so
[13:46] Farv Hallison: ¸¸.☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`☆ H E R MA N ☆´ ¯¨☆.¸¸`☆** **☆´ ¸¸.☆¨¯`
[[13:46] Bejiita Imako: and the society would stop
[13:46] Qwark Allen: i`ll see the other videos at youtube about
[13:47] Merlin Saxondale: Well Bejita, I think people should stop travelling so much
[13:47] Qwark Allen: °͜° l ☺ ☻ ☺ l °͜°
[13:47] Qwark Allen: lol
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