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Social Exclusion, Education and Precarity: neoliberalism, neoconservatism and class war from above

In this article we analyze neoliberalism and neoconservatism, their intentions and characteristics, and the relationship between them. We locate these ideologies and associated policies and discourses as part of the `class war from above' (Harvey, 2005). We critically interrogate the impact of their policies and discourses on the social production and hierarchicalisation of labour power, firstly, with respect to education, and, secondly, to employment. Keywords: precarity, jobs, education, class, neoliberalism, neoconservatism, discourse, policy Capitalism and Class War from Above Commentators from across the political spectrum are in general agreement that in a vigorous `class war from above’ (Harvey, 2005; Hill, 2012a, 2013a; Malott, Hill and Banfield, 2013) since the economic crisis of the mid-1970s, (‘the oil crisis’), and, more spectacularly, since ‘the bankers' crisis' of 2008, the capitalist class has been remarkably successful in wresting back from the working class a

India's Lucrative Organ Trade

For a long time it was legal, now its not. But the organ trade is still flourishing in India. Because of the poverty which has only been worsened by neoliberal "reforms" there. People, especially those with large families, see selling their organs as the only way out of unpayable debts after sudden loss of jobs they expected to have their entire lives.

transnational capitalist class

These are the global antidemocratic people who are executing their quiet coup against all Americans and others elsewhere. The two US parties are one of many national disinformation games - a ruse to conceal the real coup and divide the nation. Paradoxically, these trade deals that are supposed to globalize the world actually divide it and put the world's people in an adversarial position where the vast majority of the world's people are set against one another in order to keep the very rich and well fed on top. The system in the US is increasingly totally rigged for them.

Cry for Argentina: Fiscal Mismanagement, Odious Debt or Pillage?

Fiscal mismanagement or odious debt? Besides impossibility of performance, there is another defense Argentina could raise in international court – that of “odious debt.” Also known as illegitimate debt, this legal theory holds that national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation should not be enforceable. The defence has been used successfully by a number of countries, including Ecuador in December 2008, when President Rafael Correa declared that its debt had been contracted by corrupt and despotic prior regimes. The odious-debt defence allowed Ecuador to reduce the sum owed by 70 percent. In a compelling article in Global Research in November 2006, Adrian Salbuchi made a similar case for Argentina. He traced the country’s problems back to 1976, when its foreign debt was just under six billion dollars and represented only a small portion of the country’s GDP. In that year: An illegal and de facto military-civilian regime ousted the constitutionally elected government of president María Isabel Martínez de Perón [and] named as economy minister, José Martinez de Hoz, who had close ties with, and the respect of, powerful international private banking interests. With the Junta’s full backing, he systematically implemented a series of highly destructive, speculative, illegitimate – even illegal – economic and financial policies and legislation, which increased Public Debt almost eightfold to 46 billion dollars in a few short years. This intimately tied-in to the interests of major international banking and oil circles which, at that time, needed to urgently re-cycle huge volumes of “Petrodollars” generated by the 1973 and 1979 Oil Crises. Those capital in-flows were not invested in industrial production or infrastructure, but rather were used to fuel speculation in local financial markets by local and international banks and traders who were able to take advantage of very high local interest rates in Argentine Pesos tied to stable and unrealistic medium-term U.S. dollar exchange rates. Salbuchi detailed Argentina’s fall from there into what became a 200 billion dollars debt trap. Large tranches of this debt, he maintained, were “odious debt” and should not have to be paid: “Making the Argentine State – i.e., the people of Argentina – weather the full brunt of this storm is tantamount to financial genocide and terrorism. . . . The people of Argentina are presently undergoing severe hardship with over 50% of the population submerged in poverty . . . . Basic universal law gives the Argentine people the right to legitimately defend their interests against the various multinational and supranational players which, abusing the huge power that they wield, directly and/or indirectly imposed complex actions and strategies leading to the Public Debt problem.” Of President Nestor Kirchner’s surprise 2006 payment of the full 10 billion dollars owed to the IMF, Salbuchi wrote cynically: “This key institution was instrumental in promoting and auditing the macroeconomic policies of the Argentine Government for decades. . . . Many analysts consider that . . . the IMF was to Argentina what Arthur Andersen was to Enron, the difference being that Andersen was dissolved and closed down, whilst the IMF continues preaching its misconceived doctrines and exerts leverage. . . . [T]he IMF’s primary purpose is to exert political pressure on indebted governments, acting as a veritable coercing agency on behalf of major international banks.” Sovereign bankruptcy and the “Global Economic Reset” Needless to say, the IMF was not closed down. Rather, it has gone on to become the international regulator of sovereign debt, which has reached crisis levels globally. Total debt, public and private, has grown by over 40 percent since 2007, to 100 trillion dollars. The U.S. national debt alone has grown from 10 trillion dollars in 2008 to over 17.6 trillion today. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2014, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde spoke of the need for a global economic “reset.” National debts have to be “reset” or “readjusted” periodically so that creditors can keep collecting on their exponentially growing interest claims, in a global financial scheme based on credit created privately by banks and lent at interest. More interest-bearing debt must continually be incurred, until debt overwhelms the system and it again needs to be reset to keep the usury game going. Sovereign debt (or national) in particular needs periodic “resets,” because unlike for individuals and corporations, there is no legal mechanism for countries to go bankrupt. Individuals and corporations have assets that can be liquidated by a bankruptcy court and distributed equitably to creditors. But countries cannot be liquidated and sold off – except by IMF-style “structural readjustment,” which can force the sale of national assets at fire sale prices. A Sovereign Debt Restructuring Mechanism ( SDRM) was proposed by the IMF in the early 2000s, but it was quickly killed by Wall Street and the U.S. Treasury. The IMF is working on a new version of the SDRM, but critics say it could be more destabilising than the earlier version. Meanwhile, the IMF has backed collective action clauses (CACs) designed to allow a country to negotiate with most of its creditors in a way that generally brings all of them into the net. But CACs can be challenged, and that is what happened in the case of the latest Argentine bankruptcy. According to Harvard Professor Jeffrey Frankel: “[T]he U.S. court rulings’ indulgence of a parochial instinct to enforce written contracts will undermine the possibility of negotiated restructuring in future debt crises.” We are back, he says, to square one. Better than redesigning the sovereign bankruptcy mechanism might be to redesign the global monetary scheme in a way that avoids the continual need for a bankruptcy mechanism. A government does not need to borrow its money supply from private banks that create it as credit on their books. A sovereign government can issue its own currency, debt-free. But that interesting topic must wait for a follow-up article. Stay tuned. (Ellen Brown - Web of Debt - )

Enron's Global Crusade by Jon Nichols

"And Enron’s domestic activities are only a part of the story. To limit discussion of Enron to them is to miss the most dramatic lessons of this burgeoning scandal. “If you want to know where economic globalization along the lines cheered on by the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, George W. Bush and Tony Blair is headed, look at Enron. Globalization has created an international no man’s land where businesses survive by engaging in financial practices that no responsible nation-state would permit,” says Tony Benn, Britain’s former minister of industry. “When you allow corporations to write their own rules in the global marketplace, which is what has essentially been the case in recent years, you will see unimaginable abuses.” Enron was big on writing the rules. Before its collapse, it held a place on the board of the National Foreign Trade Council, which worked with the WTO to forge trade policy. It sponsored the 1999 World Services Congress in Atlanta, where, Polaris Institute researchers say, the services industry set its agenda for a new round of WTO negotiations. Along with its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, Enron was at the center of the shadowy US Coalition of Service Industries’ campaign to negotiate General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) schemes that remove restrictions on international commerce involving services. The GATS negotiations, which have been going on for two years under the aegis of the WTO, were described at the World Economic Forum by former Clinton Administration Treasury Department official Stuart Eizenstat as a move to “allow [Arthur] Andersen to export its accounting services to the world.” Eizenstat’s attempt at humor was actually a blunt statement of reality. The first rules for a profession developed by the WTO as part of the GATS negotiations were for the accounting sector–and the rules were indeed shaped with a big assist from Arthur Andersen. So what might appropriately be dubbed “Enron accounting” is already in the process of going global. The loosening of rules governing sectors of the global economy in which Enron was involved was a long-term corporate priority. During the go-go years of business expansion in the 1990s, the company scoured the planet in search of opportunities in countries that were embracing–sometimes willingly, often under pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund–“market-oriented reforms.” These public-policy shifts allowed multinational corporations to buy formerly public utilities and capitalize on the lifting of traditional regulations–moves that opened the door to aggressive global corporations like Enron. Forged in the last years of Ronald Reagan’s presidency by an ambitious former Pentagon economist named Ken Lay, Enron was a corporation designed to shape and then master the new economy of the post-cold war era. Lay preached what Britain’s Independent newspaper described as a “deregulation-happy philosophy” with such passion that The Economist would eventually describe Enron as “an evangelical cult” in which Lay was the messiah. Enron’s crusading globalism extended the corporation’s operations into virtually every sector of every economy worth owning a piece of, using all the tricks in the corporate globalizer’s handbook. “The thing that you have to understand about Enron is this: They have taken advantage of every opportunity globalization has presented them. They have been in the forefront of pushing deregulation and privatization, pushing for access to markets around the world, using pressure from the US government to open trade,” says the Polaris Institute’s Puscas. Once borders opened, once privatized industries were put up for sale and once sectors of economies were deregulated, Enron moved aggressively to gain advantage. Business Week explained that for companies like Enron, “the approach to globalization then was brutally simple: get in fast, strike megadeals with top officials, and watch the profits roll in.” Initially, it seemed, the model was working. Enron was often credited with putting new technologies to work in the service of its rapid expansion. But as much as the corporation benefited from the rise of the Internet, a case can be made that its bottom line gained at least as much from the opening of markets around the planet to swashbuckling corporate adventurers, who brought Texas-style business practice to Australia, Brazil and Croatia. Between 1998 and 2001 Enron’s foreign revenues increased from 7 percent to 23 percent of the company’s total revenues–adding $22.9 billion in 2001 to the coffers of a company that, it turns out, needed every cent it could get its hands on. Enron executives embraced the gospel of globalization with a fervor that portrayed free trade, deregulation, privatization and other planks in the neoliberal platform as the necessary and inevitable face of progress. “We are on the side of the angels,” declared former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling. “People want to have open, competitive markets.” That is a debatable point. When officials in the Indian state of Maharashtra took advantage of a recent relaxation of India’s restrictions on foreign investment to invite a joint venture led by Enron to build a power plant south of Bombay, nearby villagers were certainly not clamoring for the “open, competitive markets” Enron was offering. They worried that the Dabhol power-plant project would destroy their livelihoods and their environment. When they launched a movement to stop it, leading activists were dragged from their homes and beaten by Enron-paid “police” in what Human Rights Watch describes as “serious, sometimes brutal human rights violations carried out on behalf of the state’s and the company’s interests.” “Enron is now being widely accused of arrogance and lack of transparency, but the people of Dabhol have known that all along,” says Arvind Ganesan, who directs the group’s business and human rights program. “Enron was complicit in human rights abuse in India for several years.”

International Institutions Today: An Imperial Global State in the Making, by B. S. Chimni

"The article argues that a growing network of international institutions — economic, social, and political — constitute a nascent global state, whose current task is to realize the interests of an emerging transnational capitalist class in the international system to the disadvantage of subaltern classes in the third and first worlds. The evolving global state formation can therefore be described as having an imperial character. Underpinning the emerging imperial global state is a web of sub-national authorities and spaces that represent, along with non-governmental organizations, its decentralized face. These developments, it is contended, seriously undermine substantive democracy at both inter-state and intra-state levels. Eight possible objections to the thesis that a nascent global state having an imperial character has evolved are next considered and rejected. The concluding section briefly explores the question as to whether international institutions can be reformed, the vision that should inform change, and some concrete proposals in this regard. It argues the case for a complex internationalism in which statist reforms are necessary in the short and medium terms. These reforms can only be brought about by a powerful global social movement."

The neoliberal (counter-) revolution

G Duménil, D Lévy There is a dramatic contrast between the last twenty years of the 20th century and the previous decades since World War II. It is common to describe the (previous) twenty years of capitalism as “neoliberalism”. Indeed, during the transition between the 1970s and 1980s, the functioning of capitalism was deeply transformed, both within countries of the center and in the periphery. The earlier capitalist configuration is often referred to as the “Keynesian compromise.” Without simplifying too much, those years could be characterized, in the center countries—United States (and Canada), Europe, and Japan—by large growth rates, sustained technological change, an increase in purchasing power and the development of a welfare system (concerning, in particular, health and retirement) and low unemployment rates. The situation deteriorated during the 1970s, as the world economy, in the wake of the decline of the profit rate, entered a “structural crisis.” Its main aspects were diminished growth rates, a wave of unemployment, and cumulative inflation. This is when the new social order, neoliberalism, emerged, first within the countries of the center—beginning with the United Kingdom and the United States—and then gradually exported to the periphery. We explore below the nature of neoliberalism and its balance sheet after nearly a quarter of a century. Neoliberalism is often described as the ideology of the market and private interests as opposed to state intervention. Although it is true that neoliberalism conveys an ideology and a propaganda of its own, it is fundamentally a new social order in which the power and income of the upper fractions of ruling classes—the wealthiest persons—was reestablished in the wake of a set back. Although the conditions which accounted for the structural crisis were gradually superseded, most of the world economy remained plagued by slow growth and unemployment, and inequality increased tremendously. This was the cost of a successful restoration of the income and wealth of the wealthiest