Saturday, June 20, 2015

Quote of the day

“As neoliberalism submits all spheres of life to economization, the effect is not simply to narrow the functions of state and citizen or to enlarge the sphere of economically defined freedom at the expense of common investment in public life and public goods. Rather, it is to attenuate radically the exercise of freedom in the social and political spheres. This is the central paradox, perhaps even the central ruse, of neoliberal governance: the neoliberal revolution takes place in the name of freedom – free markets, free countries, free men – but tears up freedom’s grounding in sovereignty for states and subjects alike.”
- Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (2015), p. 108

An illustration – the “liberation” of Iraq by the invading and occupying force, as described by Mark Neocleous in Critique of Security (pp. 146-147):
These [corporate-friendly and corrupt] practices are clearly due to the need to get the Iraqi people ready for a new life organised by and for capital, an Iraq which, in Rumsfeld’s words, ‘provides opportunities for its people through a market economy’, following the policy developed by the US Agency for International Development under advice from BearingPoint (formerly KPMG), in their report ‘Stimulating Economic Recovery, Reform and Sustained Growth in Iraq’ (February 2003) specifying a liberalisation of the Iraqi economy. …But this liberalisation of Iraq was to be conducted under a decidedly dictatorial political order. So from May 2003, when Iraq was declared open for business, to June 2004, when the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was dissolved, the new authoritarian liberalism saw the introduction of 100 Orders fundamentally altering Iraqi law in order to implement a capitalist economic model. After first firing more than half a million employees of the 190 state-owned companies (Orders 1 and 2) and passing an Executive Order granting non-Iraqi companies (that is, American companies) immunity from prosecution for any acts undertaken in relation to oil exploration, production or sale, a raft of other Orders was set in place including a trade-liberalisation policy removing all protective barriers (Order 12), a flat-tax policy (Order 37), the opening of the Iraqi banking sector to foreign ownership (Order 4), the rewriting of the patent, trademark and copyright laws to ensure access to foreign producers (Orders 80, 81 and 83) and, most importantly, the selling off of all of Iraq’s state-owned enterprises (Order 39). The only laws left intact were the previous regime’s limitations on labour rights and trade union membership. All these Orders were then upheld with the passage of the constitution in October 2005, Article 25 of which requires that the State guarantee the reform of the Iraqi economy according to ‘modern economic principles’ and ensures the ‘development of the private sector’. A commitment to capitalism is now a constitutional requirement.
Sweet freedom.

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