David Harvey: The Persistence of Neoliberalism Despite its Loss of Legitimacy (1/2)



it's the real news network and I'm Greg wilpert joining you from New York City where I'm at the 2019 left forum which is actually taking place in Brooklyn this year and I'm joined by David Harvey distinguished professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York thanks for much David for joining us today so I want to I want to start with the question of neoliberalism because that's an issue that has been a lot on people's minds here at the left forum it seems to me and one of the issues regarding neoliberalism it seems to be the strange contradiction between on the one hand that everybody is saying and I think the kind of the progressive candidates on the Democratic Party in the United States are kind of bearing this out the loss of legitimacy of neoliberalism at this point at least as an ideology as a mode of thinking but on the other hand and this is kind of this this contradiction is the persistence of neoliberalism in its institutionalized form that is we have all kinds of structures in place from the World Bank to the World Trade Organization the European Union the new and revamped and North American Free Trade Agreement the trans-pacific partnership is all kinds of different institutions in place that basically institutionalized neoliberalism and so my question is how can we get beyond this contradiction in the sense that yeah what good is a do if neoliberalism has been vanquished on the level of ideas but it continues on kind of as some has said perhaps a nizam be like form without any real life but as a nation and as individual nations it's almost too difficult to do anything about it even if a progressive government comes into office so what do you think well I don't think it's a zombie form I think it's very active and for some of the reasons you mentioned it's become instantiated within many of the institutions and you mentioned we have Global's thing with the WTO which is a neoliberal construct to which everybody is supposed to comply you have a European Union with my strict record and Lisbon Accords which are completely kind of neoliberal in their orientation even further than that I think we have a mindset in which in a curious kind of way we have all become neoliberals without knowing it and even when we kind of object to some of the more egregious activities which are going on we often look at alternatives in a very neoliberal kind of way and I think yeah one of the questions I wonder wanna ask around here of my colleagues is what degree is the Left become neoliberal last well in everybody's critical of Clinton and and Blair and so on for neoliberal izing Democratic Party and the Labour Party's but I think it's gone much deeper than that so it's not gone and I would point out that if one other one of the themes of neoliberalism mister deregulate Trump was deregulated had a rate which is absolutely phenomenal so that is very very consistent with a neoliberal project and a deepening of the neoliberal project as opposed to it's sort of rolling it rolling it back the tax bill he gave out was a classic neoliberal document which was really a bondholders charter and I think that actually in many day-to-day aspects neoliberalism is is alive and active and I think that the problem now however is as you mentioned its legitimacy and I think what's happening is there's a curious Alliance occurring between right-wing authoritarianism and neoliberalism which is very very troubling and I think that is a very dangerous sign I want to return to that point but before I do I want to touch on something that you said just before that which is about how the left might have incorporated some key ideas of neoliberalism and this is of course something that has only been discovered recently I would say one that recently in the last 10 years neoliberalism has been around I guess since the night early 1970s but on the last in the last 10 years there have been more and more thinkers who panned and I think partly this might be a result of Michel Foucault's analysis of neoliberalism talking about how it becomes ingrained in our everyday habits and the thing that he points to is these ideas about how we become enterprises of our own of an individual as a single individual as an enterprise and I'm wondering is that related to what you're thinking in terms of the new liberalization of the left I mean give me some make that a little bit more concrete what do you mean by that good book come out by Cynthia I wrote so the teaching back to Sharia and Nancy Fraser the feminism for the 99% and one of the things they do is to point out that as a form of feminism which latched on to neoliberalism precisely because it was had this philosophy of entrepreneurialism in the self and so women could say okay I'm doing entrepreneurialism is my self and as an entrepreneur I can ascend in the corporate world and so you get a kind of corporate feminism which in many ways is represented by Hillary Clinton which explains why she didn't do so well amongst amongst many women because that corporate feminism which is consistent with neoliberalism has become quite significant in the feminist movement and so these authors go against that and say we have to have an anti-capitalist feminism which is anti neoliberal and anti-capitalist and I think is a big difference for me by the way between an anti neoliberal politics an anti-capitalist product project because neoliberalism is a particular form of capitalism and the big question is can you get rid of it and construct an ethical form of capitalism or a social democratic form of capitalism or do we really need to go beyond capitalism altogether but I don't think the left particularly when you look at some of the other issues and the overlap there is in the left with some aspects of an anarchist tradition and the anarchist tradition is not entirely sort of opposed to some of the neoliberal ideas about liberty and freedom of the individual and the like so you you'll find I many aspects of the left these days is sort of Kerik characterized by whatever called a non ideological cultural anarchism and to some degree that is a little bit what comes out of the neoliberal ethic when the neoliberal ethic was first being proposed it seems to me that it was very much being proposed to the generation of 68 and saying to that generation look you want individual liberty and freedom okay we'll give it to you we'll give it to you and we'll give it to you in this neoliberal form which is a very political economic form and you have to forget other issues like social justice and the like so it's it's seeped its way into the discourse is of much of the left and I think that this is this creates a sort of tolerance for some neoliberal practices if but though never ideas would exist on the left now returning also to this issue now of the alliance between neo liberalism and conservatism in a way I'm wondering if there's a parallel that might be made in the sense that a to to something that you wrote actually along ago when you wrote about the New Imperialism and what I'm thinking of specifically is about I think you made the distinction between the logic of capital versus the logic of territory I think it was was the alternative and the this neoliberal alliance with conservatives and it follows kind of a logic of territory in some sense versus you also have among the elites or among the ruling class if you will of a kind of a logic of capital and a kind of this neoliberal non conservative neoliberalism and that and that's represented by the big tech companies for example Google and Apple and so on and Facebook on the one hand and on the other hand we've got the kind of trumpian neoliberalism that is authoritarian and and of course now the the left forces seem to be stuck somehow in terms of possibly facing the choice between one of those two are presenting an alternative and I'm just wondering if if what that so to speak that other logic might be in terms of what would it be oriented towards and how would it be able to present a real alternative to this the logic of of capital versus logic of territory the neoliberal versus the neoliberalism if you will and the conservative neoliberalism how can it kind of can can this alternative kind of get beyond this this dichotomy well I take it from this perspectives that when I read Marx particularly Volume one over now of capital what I see is a system which systematically has the rich growing richer and the poor getting relatively poorer in other words a free market economy driven by competition in which there is an equalization of the rate of profit that kind of economy will produce automatically greater and greater levels of social inequality and of social well-being and of course the neoliberal era all the data show that is exactly what has happened so you kind of go okay I understand theoretically why this is happening it's because of this this this mechanism because that's what this mechanism does and I see the data and then but that then I think leads to the challenge to the legitimacy of neoliberalism because the idea behind it is to say to everybody do entrepreneurial work in yourself and then you'll become rich and all the rest of it but it turns out that's extremely difficult to do and for the mass of the population it turns out to be impossible so they look at this situation and say this system is not working for me but then the neoliberal ethic kicks in about entrepreneurialism the self and says well if you're poor it's because you didn't invest in your own cultural capital it's your fault that you're poor so neoliberalism has a very clever way of turning things around and blaming the victim and we see that saw that in the foreclosures of the housing and all this kind of stuff many people who were foreclosed upon didn't blame the system what they blamed was themselves so actually what what neoliberalism does as an ideology is to start to do that so when somebody kind of says look the system's not working for me the system turns around says oh that's because you didn't work on your education you didn't do right it's your fault all this kind of stuff so it it's a very neat way now when you get to the mid 1990s or beyond that I would say sort of around 2000 particularly after the Clinton years when Clinton came in promising all kinds of benefits and gave us and after and all these neoliberal reforms and at that point I think people kind of said you know this is not really working for me and what's more there's something going on here which is which is not right so you start to see in the 2000s this kind of alliance between the neo cons and the neoconservatives in the authoritarian state because the only way in which social order could be actually kept was went by actually starting to discipline populations because after all the first revolt against the neoliberal order which was global as opposed to particular there are lots in Latin America as I think you know and but the global one was Seattle which was the anti which is the anti-globalization movement and then all of the picketing of the IMF and g20 is meetings and all these kinds of things general all of that kind of story and at that point I think the ruling class has started to say well this could is is gonna get out of hand we need a government structure that's gonna sit on these people and do it really really hard so when Occupy Wall Street came along which was a fairly small and fairly innocent kind of movement actually Wall Street got paranoid and basically summoned the New York mayor at the time who was the Wall Street character Bloomberg to say squash these people and and so then at this point the perpetuation of a neoliberal order starts to become more and more guaranteed by state authoritarianism and neoconservative ISM which now has morphed a little bit into this kind of right-wing populism so in a sense the neoliberal order is being perpetuated by this authoritarian shift and I think again that should give the left a good possibility to mount a counter-attack and I think they are in a position to remount a counter attack in certain parts of the world but right now I don't think the left has woken up to that this moment of possibility you

39 thoughts on “David Harvey: The Persistence of Neoliberalism Despite its Loss of Legitimacy (1/2)”

  1. Neo-liberalism WILL MORPH… into a new FASCISM like alternate neo-liberalism.. ie control of majority, control of multi nationals to control the economic action.. AWAY FROM THE 1% but politically supporting the neo-liberal agendas.

  2. In regards to the structure of news media it's good to insure there is more than one source of media doing investigative reporting in the field would be a more effective watchdog of our democracy here and abroad by having more eyes to fool or blind. The suggested new format combined with the old structure that contained many small outlets that put more focus on covering vital local issues in their area. Either portion should be sizeable enough to get truthful reporting out to enough voters to raise the alarm when one or the other is attempting to be hijacked by consolidation of power or in the case of the "wikipedia" style media small independent media would be more apt to repeatedly cover and educate the public on issues that are good for the people but are not currently populist ideas.ie Medicare 4 All -Not a populist majority approved issue in the recent past until it was repeatedly explained.

  3. so people are blaming themselves that's why they ain't out in the streets trying to take back what was taken from them how do we educate people to make them realize their whole world is disappearing in front of their eyes if we don't do something now we're all dead

  4. PLEASE STOP REFERRING TO YOURSELVES AS 'THE LEFT' – it is a false construct and has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS!    Think about what the different meanings of left and right are.   You are just normal decent people.  Civil Society is a better word

  5. I have your book A Brief History of Neo-liberalism David.   Its great, thank you for the information.   It cost me $40, I had to save up for two months – STILL WORTH IT and I can recommend it to everybody.

  6. Not Me, Us ! – Bernie Sanders.
    Every Sane Americans today MUST Realize and Admit that We the People were TOO IGNORANT, AFRAID, DOCILE and LAZY to Fight Against the "Anti-Working Class" , "Anti-Labor Unions" , "Anti-Environmental" and "Anti-Consumer" Politicians, MSM and Corporations/CEOs.

  7. I really suggest reading David Harveys book with greater context for all of this "A Brief History of Neoliberalism"

  8. OWS was pre-emptively created by Wall Street, who had the police already pre-trained, to destroy any movement before it even arose.

  9. This is all part of a trend that has been going on in it's modern incarnation since Nixon era with Pete Peterson.Peterson has a think tanl that has been doing the long run on suplly side propaganda even after disasters like 2008.You had Clinton drink U of Chicago Econ Koolaid whole heatedly (though to be fair Carter was of that ilk) and they have just been added to with Koch brother funded groups like Club For Growth etc.I like Harvey pointing out that it is immune from criticism and somehow the left get's co-opted and the victims of unfair distribution are tricked into blaming themselves not a a system which is rigged.

  10. If you've looked into enough literature on human psychology you've probably come across the codependent/narcissist model. I'm starting to see some legitimate parallels to this model in regards to neoliberalism and our reaction to it, how it is maintained. It was especially noticeable to me when David mentioned that the neoliberalists are engaged with victim blaming and that the public blamed themselves for their financial predicament. I mean, that is essentially the codependent/narcissism dynamic playing out. Propaganda is not unlike gaslighting.

    This just goes to show really how entrenched this dynamic is in human civilization.

  11. So basically neoliberalism is hippy-style capitalists? I remember Williamson on ElChapo mentioning that after the govt massacres & assassinations basically told the hippies that they could either have "freedom" the market or die.

  12. Sound not so good. David is speaking in a very weak way, not so enthusiastically. It became almost boring.

  13. That jumpsuit-looking shirt against the plain, brick wall makes him look like a political prisoner. #freedavidharvey

  14. If we don't nominate a true progressive like Yang, Tulsi or Bernie we're gonna win or lose the presidency by 1 or 2 points, and the Senate will stay Republican. A true progressive could even lead to a McConnell defeat, as he is up for election, but another Hillary won't change anything.

  15. Harvey you crusty old f__k, I love ya, but the Zombie framing is perfect. Zombies are active, dangerous, virile in a sense, but dead inside. This is Third Way centrist neoliberalism to a tee.

  16. Its like institutionalised big religions., millions of ardent adherents despite being discredited,, powerful elite rife with corruption and hypocrisy, veneer of respectability and charitable works!!!

  17. Neoliberalism isn’t dead. It’s just become so autocratic that it doesn’t bother to sell itself anymore. It just imposes itself without regard. It is a bigger threat to humanity than any individual nation can possibly contain. That’s why international opposition is the only legitimate strategy. Those who intentionally sow confusion among the masses in order to protect their concentration of wealth and power will be guilty of creating a monster that could very well usher in a new dark age for humanity.

  18. I think left wing academics and people who work in a leftist ‘milieu’ overestimate the influence of the left. People like Sanders and Corbyn, who are considered dangerous radicals by the mainstream, are really just old school social democrats and they are still quite a way from wielding real power.

    To succeed, the left needs to build mass appeal which it can’t do with its current obsession with identity politics and moral and ideological purity. It puts having the ‘correct’ mindset ahead of being working class or negatively affected by capitalism. It really really limits the left’s appeal and helps the right by feeding into its stereotype of the left as a puritanical thought and language police.

    The left needs to get seriously organized beyond endlessly talking about stuff that has no impact on people or politics in the real world and debating the finer points of the Democratic Party’s useless candidates. What the left needs more than anything is influence and right now it doesn’t have much. Right now it’s basically a talking shop for academics and supporters of this or that neoliberal Dem Party candidate.

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