Posted by Curt on 13 February, 2014 at 2:00 pm. Be the first to comment!


Paul Austin Murphy:

Last year George Monbiot, that personification of a Guardianista, (independent school, Oxford, then the Leftist establishment), wrote an article about the unadulterated evil that is capitalism. However, he never once uses the word ‘capitalism’ in the piece. Instead, he uses the words “neoliberal” and “neoliberalism”. The article itself is titled ‘If you think we’re done with neoliberalism, think again’.

George Monbiot’s piece is full of bogus statistics (not outright lies; just dissimulations) and ill-defined concepts (such as “recession”) which are simply used as subtle ways to fire-up his fellow naïve, “anti-capitalist” Guardianistas. In fact the article is more or less a paean to (democratic) communism; or, at the very least, a paean to greened-up socialism/collectivism. But as with “capitalism” earlier, Monbiot never uses the word “socialism” either (not even “green socialism”).

Take the following lines. They could have come straight out of the Communist Manifesto; except for the fact that the anti-capitalist language has been updated with references to the environment and “sustainability.” And, of course, the word “capitalism” is substituted with “neoliberalism”. So here we go:

“… [neoliberalism] brought the west to its knees…. The policies that made the global monarchs so rich… the neoliberals claimed, would be that economic efficiency and investment would rise, enriching everyone… The neoliberals also insisted that unrestrained inequality in incomes and flexible wages would reduce unemployment… I have no dog in this race, except a belief that no one…. should have to be poor.”

Only Words

Part of the problem is that the word “neoliberalism” — or “neoliberal” — has become no more than a soundbite or a simple term of abuse. (Not unlike the word “neo-con” just before, during and after the 2003 Iraq war.) That’s not surprising. According to a study by Taylor C. Boas and Jordan Gans-Morse of 148 journal articles, the word ‘neoliberalism’ is hardly ever — if at all — defined. That’s partly because it would be hard to define: it has a fairly long history and many variants. In addition, just as with the word “capitalism” itself, keeping the word “neoliberalism” vague and rhetorical is precisely how many Leftists like their political words. If such words were specified or defined, then some of the fire would be dampened down. And then the student Leftists — and the older ones too — who use them would find their little minds going all into a tizzy. So it’s best use the word “neoliberal” — as with “neo-con” and “Zionist” — as a simple word-weapon with virtually no meaning. You see, if the word were to be defined in any way, then it would lose its bluntness and therefore its political power.

Basically, most Leftists simply mean capitalism when they use the word “neoliberalism.” Or, more precisely and in the Marxist jargon, they are really arguing against “the private ownership of the means of production”. Such “progressives” (as many Trotskyists and communists have started calling themselves) are constantly trying to update old-fashioned Marxist ideas about capitalism; and they often do so with neologisms. The same was true with the word “neo-cons” a few years back. Most Leftists simply meant capitalists who have an interest in foreign policy; which of course ties in with the shopworn and ancient late 19th-century Marxist theories of neocolonialism or imperialism.

This is not to say that “neoliberalism” is a synonym of “capitalism.” In non-semantic terms, it’s not to say that capitalism and neoliberalism are identical either. Of course they aren’t. There are, for example, many differences, for example, between what Adam Smith believed and theorized about and what some of the people who’ve been classed as “neo-liberals” have believed and theorized about.

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