09 June 2018

Neoliberalism and the Rise of Corporate Globalism

Excerpted below is a recent book review of Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, by Quinn Slobodian, Harvard University Press.

I have included a link to the entire article which I recommend reading if you wish to know more about how the rise of globalism, corporatism, and neoliberalism may go hand in hand within a reasoned construct.

I could have included much more and still not done justice to the themes and thoughts that it contains.

I found it particularly helpful because it provides a plausible rationale for the continuation of the European Union, despite its malformed integration of a currency union without internal financial integration of debts and transfer payments.  Not to mention its odd admixture of a remote central bureaucracy trumping traditional policy areas within the domain of national sovereignty.

It also helps to understand the stubborn commitment to global 'trade treaties' by corporate Democrats that tend to elevate international  bureaucracies and rules bodies,  dominated by corporate lobbyists, over the inclinations of their own national electorates. 

Obama's determined slogging for the TPP, even as his intended Democratic successor was being electorally eviscerated for her perceived corporatist elitism, was otherwise inexplicable given his sophistication in managing perceptions.

In this perspective these seemingly obtuse things can be seen as 'features' rather than well-intentioned but naively crafted arrangements containing unintentional flaws.

This review also positions neoliberalism within the context of the development of economic and political thought in the 20th century.  The two are inexorably entwined because, as is well established throughout human history, money is power.

The Boston Review
The Market Police
J. W. Mason

"Globalism in this story is not only, or even primarily, an extension of contacts between people, trade, production. Rather, it is the creation of a set of property rights that, precisely because they span multiple sovereignties, cannot be touched by one government without inviting conflict with another. In this sense it is positively desirable for property claims to cross national borders. Foreign investment, regardless of its value or otherwise for financing production, performs a political function that domestic investment cannot...

Organizing property and production across borders—whether through free trade, protections for foreign investment, currency unions or other devices—does more than limit the power of governments. It also serves, Slobodian writes, “to dissolve the small, discrete collective of mutual identification...in a larger unity.” Hayek spent much of his life searching for “a political model that would undermine the ‘solidarity of interests’ that naturally cohered” among similarly-situated people. Open borders played a critical role here, ensuring that economic interests were never “lastingly identified with the inhabitants of a particular region...

Today, the European Union offers the fullest realization of the neoliberal political vision. There is no sovereign people of Europe; the authority of European institutions rests on a body of law and treaties. The European Union is not a nation, but it is not simply an agreement among nations either. Unlike international agreements, European regulations are directly binding on individuals and not only on the government signing them. In many areas, European regulations and authorities don’t merely constrain, but actually replace, their national equivalents. (This is what makes Brexit so difficult.)

Europe’s incomplete integration—with its confusing mix of powers delegated to Brussels and powers retained by national governments—is often seen as a design flaw. But to Slobodian’s globalists, partial integration is precisely the goal—it means that neither the national nor the international body have the legitimacy and capacity to direct the economy. With no international entanglements, a government is sovereign; with complete integration, sovereignty moves to the higher level. What is wanted is a situation in which some powers but not others are delegated, leaving neither national nor super-national governments able to act outside of circumscribed role...

One might even call this the neoliberal paradox. State power is needed to enforce market relations and property rights, but when it rests on democratic politics, it can easily turn into a vehicle for a broader program of economic planning. So the site of power must be anonymized, hidden from politics—as in the opaque jurisdictional mazes of Europe...

From this point of view, the essential thing about the single European currency is not whatever dubious practical advantages come from having prices across the continent measured in the same units. Rather, it is the creation of the European Central Bank as an ostensibly technical decision-maker, more insulated from democratic politics than any national authority could be."

Read the entire book review at The Boston Review.