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Neoliberalism and the New World Order

Updated on May 22, 2018
CJStone profile image

CJ Stone is an author and columnist, with seven books to his credit. He lives in Whitstable and currently writes for the Whitstable Gazette.

Remember those old communist countries, where you could vote for anything you liked, as long as it was communist? Here in Britain we can vote for anything we like as long as it’s neoliberalism.

Everybody knows

Everybody knows there’s something wrong with the world but nobody can say what it is.

We've got people going hungry in the UK for the first time in nearly a century; wages are falling and living standards are in decline; our schools are failing, our National Health Service is being privatised, the retirement age is rising, child benefit is means tested and large numbers of our young people are finishing their education massively in debt.

£50,000 used to buy you a decent house not all that long ago. These days it doesn't even buy you an education, something we once got for free.

Everyone is blaming everyone else. The Tories blame Labour. Labour blames the Tories. Britain First blames the immigrants. The English Defence League blames the Muslims. The bosses blame the Trade Unions. The people blame the politicians. The politicians blame the economy.

No one knows what to do.

Meanwhile the rich are getting richer and we’re involved in our sixth war since 1991.

Just to list them for you, in case you've forgotten:-

  1. In 1991 we invaded Iraq. On false pretences, it was later revealed, as Saddam was suing for peace and had agreed to leave Kuwait. That part of the story never gets repeated in the mainstream media for some reason. Prior to that Saddam had been our ally. It was George H. W. Bush who first used the term "The New World Order" in the run up to the first Gulf War.
  2. In 1998 we intervened in the War in Kosovo. That was the first of the wars of “Humanitarian Intervention” which meant, basically, that there was no Security Council resolution backing our action, which meant that it was against international law and strictly illegal; we intervened anyway, in defiance of international law. This was the New World Order showing its face.
  3. Also in 1998 we bombed Iraq again, on the basis of those Weapons of Mass Destruction which later turned out not to exist.
  4. In 2001 we invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on New York. This was despite the fact that not one of the 9/11 attackers was from Afghanistan, or that anyone living in Afghanistan was ever shown to have had any part in the attacks. This included Osama bin Laden, who always denied having had anything to do with 9/11. He was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List for many years, but they never claimed that he was involved in the 9/11 atrocity.
  5. In 2003, of course, we were part of that clinically insane “Coalition of the Willing” which invaded Iraq: probably one of the most disastrous military interventions in the whole of human history. The only other countries involved in it were the United States, Australia and Poland. There was never any Security Council resolution for this war so, once more, it was illegal. It was also, according to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) “a strategic failure” and was directly responsible for the increase of radicalism of young Muslims in the UK. In other words, we illegally invaded another country in order to counteract the threat of international terrorism and, in the process, greatly increased international terrorism. We used the excuse of a threat to our national security which didn't exist, and by this act created a threat to our national security which is now all too real. If this isn't "clinically insane” then I don't know what is.
  6. We were also involved in the war in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002 and, as well as the latest war in Iraq, we have cheered on or supported conflicts in Darfur, Somalia, Gaza, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan and Syria.

There’s always enough money for war it seems, but never enough for a decent standard of living for the population.

 John Heartfield: 'The Meaning of the Hitler Salute. The Little Man Asks for Big Gifts. Millions Stand Behind Me' 1932
John Heartfield: 'The Meaning of the Hitler Salute. The Little Man Asks for Big Gifts. Millions Stand Behind Me' 1932

Back to the 30s

Sometimes it feels like we’re back in the 30s. Same economic depression. Same crazy fanaticism. Same thunder of war echoing on the horizon. But whereas in the 30s it was the Nazis invading other people’s countries, these days it’s us.

I remember reading in the history books that it was the Second World War that got us out of the Great Depression. Actually that’s only partly true. What also got us out of the Great Depression was legislation to curb the excesses of capitalism which had lead us into the Great Depression in the first place.

The post-war boom was built on the financial architecture of the Bretton Woods Agreement, which, amongst other things, regulated the flow of speculative capital. Bretton Woods was also at one time referred to as "the New World Order". It's been a common phrase down the years.

In place of the free-for-all of the 1920s, we had an international economic framework which oversaw the market, controlling it by various legally enforceable means. Together with the so-called “post-war consensus”, which saw the creation of the National Health Service, the welfare state and the nationalisation of key strategic industries, this lead to more than 30 years of stability in the economy and an unprecedented rise in living standards for the majority of people in this country.

As Harold Macmillan famously remarked, we’d “never had it so good”.

Unfortunately, it also lead to a limit to the amount of profits the corporations could make, so in the late 1970s a new economic philosophy was unveiled. It effectively ripped up the post-war consensus and unleashed financial speculation on the world again.

We called it “Thatcherism” here in the UK. In the United States it was known as “Reaganomics”.

It has gone by many names over the years. Monetarism. Free-market economics. Supply-side economics.

George Bush senior, in a rare lucid moment, referred to it as “Voodoo Economics”.

The current preferred term is “neoliberalism”.

It is the idea that if we privatise everything everyone will be better off.

The basis of the argument is that when we hand over our public services to private contractors, those private contractors are more efficient. And that is true of course. In order to make a profit private industry drives down costs. It does this by driving down wages and conditions, by making less people do more work. Ultimately, then, it impoverishes the vast majority of people in an industry in order to make money for the people who own it. Fewer people are better off, while more people are worse off, and in the end, the whole of society is impoverished by this process.

All the major parties subscribe to the neoliberal agenda, including Ukip.

Remember those old communist countries, where you could vote for anything you liked, as long as it was communist? Here in Britain we can vote for anything we like as long as it’s neoliberalism.

So what’s that thing that’s wrong with the world that nobody can put a name to?

I’ll give you a clue. You have no choice. You can’t vote for anything else.

© 2014 Christopher James Stone


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