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Neoliberalism died before Ukraine The West is living in the world of yesterday

The dream of borderless utopia is already dead. John Moore via Getty


May 16, 2022   5 mins

The neoliberal order that triumphed on a global scale in the Nineties and 2000s aspired to the free movement of goods, capital, people, and information throughout the world. Unfettered capitalism would release the global economy from arbitrary constraints, and if economic inequality resulted, this was regarded as tolerable as long as most boats were going to rise, and as long as efficiencies in production were going to reduce the cost of consumer goods until they could be put within reach of hundreds of millions of the world’s poor.

This order was in retreat even before the pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Total international merchandise trade peaked in 2008, when it accounted for 51% of the world’s output. It plummeted during the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and has never durably recovered. The Great Recession, and the widening disparity between rich and poor that followed, shattered the belief that a global world of free trade was bringing prosperity to all.

Prior to the crash, “protectionism” had been a dirty word for 30 years. In the 2010s, however, Donald Trump and likeminded politicians elsewhere bid for power by calling on their countrymen to embrace a protectionist future. In America, Trump wanted to reinvigorate the country’s manufacturing base and multiply the number of good jobs. He also wanted to reserve such jobs for American citizens rather than offer them to foreigners, often non-whites who came, Trump alleged, from “shithole countries”.

Suspicion of foreigners facilitated Trump’s victory in 2016, as it did Brexit’s triumph. By the late 2010s, hostility to non-European peoples was on the rise even in the cosmopolitan EU, prompting Germany to pay Turkey and Greece billions to park tens of thousands of Middle Eastern and North African refugees in camps far from the European heartland.

All these forces were in motion before the twin crises of the pandemic and Ukraine struck. The pandemic froze populations in place, stalling migration as severely as world wars had once done. Meanwhile, the vast disruption of the most mundane processes of manufacturing, commerce, and transportation undermined the “just-in-time” global production and shipping regimes that had long undergirded the neoliberal economy. All kinds of essential goods (and essential workers) were suddenly scarce, the algorithms used to finely tune supply and demand now rendered useless. Corporations everywhere began to wonder whether stretching their supply chains around the world was still a good idea, especially when a little virus and a nasty regional war could stop the global mobility of goods and people cold.

The response of Europe and America to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reveals not just shock and horror at Putin’s savagery but a determination to restore a neoliberal world order that had been slipping away. Europe and America have rapidly been repairing a frayed Atlantic alliance. They have revived the spirit of the Atlantic Charter, agreed to by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1941, that called for restoring the values and principles that the Nazis were so intent upon destroying: the rule of law, respect for the territorial integrity of nations, the right of peoples to be free and self-governing, and the pursuit of economic prosperity through peace and trade rather than war and conquest.

Even Western measures against Russia are aimed at reviving the world of yesterday. The sanctions are, indeed, among the most severe and comprehensive ever imposed on a country. In the West’s most desirable scenario, Putin will be weakened to the point where he must retreat or see his regime implode. That would potentially revive Russian liberalism and put the country on a path that would culminate in its eventual reintegration into a neoliberal global community.

Will Europe and America succeed in this endeavour? One hopes so. But they may not. The circumstances that would trigger Putin’s fall or a quick end to the conflict have yet to crystallise. It seems more likely that the conflict will become a frozen war, with Ukraine becoming the new Korea — divided not between North and South but between East and West, with Ukraine pulled more and more into the “West” as South Korea once was. In this scenario, Russia, with a sliver of eastern Ukraine in its possession, would become more like North Korea: isolated, authoritarian, and poor, yet possessing a dangerous nuclear arsenal and with China as a silent but steadfast ally.

If this darker scenario comes to pass, the world’s retreat from the neoliberal world of the early years of this century may intensify. During the golden age of neoliberalism, corporations and nations felt confident procuring raw materials and implanting production facilities anywhere, as long as resources were abundant, labour was cheap, and markets were allowed to flourish. Establishing outposts of free-market capitalism in countries such as Russia and China, it was hoped, would compel the regimes of those nations to liberalise: to institute the rule of law (if only to protect property and contracts), to embrace a free press and free elections, and maybe even to embrace democracy itself. Open markets, it was hoped, would produce open societies.

It is now clear that these hopes were misplaced. Globalisation has strengthened authoritarianism and illiberalism, not weakened them. We may be moving into a world that is not open, flat or harmonious, but fractured and divided into rival geopolitical blocs: Russia at the centre of one, China, Europe, and America at the centre of the others. Tall, jagged, and hard-to-scale walls may separate these blocs from each other. Peace would be achievable in this multipolar world, and alliances certainly would be possible — between North America and Europe, for example, or between Russia and China. But war would be a recurring threat, rendering the movement of goods, capital, and people between the various blocs far more fraught than during the neoliberal order’s heyday.

If the world continues to shift toward multipolar antagonism, geopolitics and national security will become paramount in the planning not just of nations but of private corporations. EU members are now discussing how to sustain their economies long term without access to Russian oil or gas. Multinational corporations must now grapple not simply with the cost of pulling out of Russia, which has been high, but with the possibility that a far more serious blow will befall them if China should decide to attack its own Ukraine, known to us as Taiwan. It is no longer inconceivable that international corporations will be forced to pull out of China as they’ve had to pull out of Russia. How does a corporation insulate itself against the worst consequences of that future?

National governments thus have to think much harder about the costs, economic and political, of sustaining raw material, production, and supply chains stretched across vast territories and rival blocs. Sovereign states are compiling lists of goods, such as computer chips, deemed so essential to national security that they must be produced domestically or in a friendly neighbouring state. Though military budgets will likely balloon, a military strategy alone will not suffice. Countries will require an industrial strategy, too, which means governments will need to intervene in markets in ways considered illegitimate during the era when the neoliberal order was riding high.

These may not be the long-term results of the Ukraine crisis. Liberalism may triumph, and a neoliberal political economy may be resuscitated. But such a victory will not come easily. And even if one is achieved, the neoliberal economic order cannot successfully be restored for the long term without a serious reckoning with its flaws: a toleration of too great a level of economic and social inequality; a reluctance to recognise and assist those who have suffered economically; and a flow of political power away from national legislatures and toward international organisations, private and public. It will not be enough, in other words, simply to reanimate the ideals of the Atlantic Charter, or of the WTO. Nations and alliances need new charters for the twenty-first century, ones adequate to the challenges of our time.


Gary Gerstle is the Paul Mellon Professor of American History Emeritus at the University of Cambridge and the author of The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era (2022)

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Paul O
Paul O
2 years ago

“Suspicion of foreigners facilitated Trump’s victory in 2016, as it did Brexit’s triumph”

Really?

Everyone I know who voted Brexit did so because of a desire to not be ruled by faceless bureaucrats. I would call that a desire to have self rule or sovereignty.

Jo Nielson
Jo Nielson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul O

And a lot of Americans voted for Trump because globalization wasn’t working for them. My state was hollowed out in the 2000’s and the 2010’s by jobs leaving for other states with better taxation, or Mexico and Asia. A lot of my friends couldn’t find decent jobs here after college, so they left for places where the economy was better. It was really a no-brainer to vote for Trump.

Making things in America really shouldn’t be as controversial as it is. It never made sense to me why so many things were offshored because you never know when the political climate is going to change. Now we have all kinds of shortages because we are so dependent on China and they are still playing the lockdown game.

But ‘someday’ we are supposed to get ‘better jobs’ to replace those that were offshored. Someday. All sorts of schemes have been tried to repair the damage done, but the fact is that you can’t expect people to take it well when their lifestyle and livelihood are dismantled through no fault of their own.

And to add insult to injury, their wages tend to be lower (b/c manufacturing jobs tend to be non unionized now or unions took pay concessions as part of their union contract.). A lot of people simply don’t agree with the cultural norms and policies offered by the hyper-globalization crowd. It should be okay to have different ideas in a democratic society where everyone has a voice and is equal. Democracy isn’t dead if we vote against dumb ideas and bad candidates.

Perry de Havilland
Perry de Havilland
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul O

Indeed, a classic example of “tell me you don’t understand why Brexit happened without telling me you don’t understand why Brexit happened.” 😀

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul O

God forbid anyone should ever be suspicious of foreigners . I mean the motives of the CCP are clearly impeccable , as indeed are those of Jihadists everywhere , except perhaps the minuscule number of white British jihadists of whom it’s acceptable to disapprove .

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Osband
Matt M
Matt M
2 years ago

“I secretly agree with Donald Trump about China, offshoring, useless international organisations, energy independence and uncontrolled immigration BUT I must say nasty things about him so no-one can tell I agree”.

This article is a classic of the genre.

Last edited 2 years ago by Matt M
Christopher O'Malley
Christopher O'Malley
2 years ago

“He also wanted to reserve such jobs for American citizens rather than offer them to foreigners, often non-whites who came, Trump alleged, from “shithole countries” I was actually interested in this article until that steaming pile dropped off of the screen and into my lap. Needless to say, I immediately stopped reading.

Last edited 2 years ago by Christopher O'Malley
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

There was quite an emphasis on Trump WANTING America to be great again (an increase in manufacturing and job creation at home). And by autumn 2019, things had settled down: even the media had backed off Trump by then as if it had forgotten that life could be good, even sweet. The Abraham Accords had not long been reached, bringing a new style of peaceful cooperation to the Middle East. And I believe it’s mean of the author (in what is otherwise a good piece) to not acknowledge Trump’s desire to rekindle the enthusiasm of Americans to believe in themselves and in their capacity to invent and make new things: the world does selfishly expect that of America by now. Indeed, the author even slightly mocks Trump’s pretensions – as if the man is still in power! America, under Trump, had to tend to its own wounds. It had long neglected them. The Trump Administration probably thought that the world took America for granted. But a short, sharp shock by America tending to itself is sometimes the tonic the world needs. Not that that would be enough to inspire them to get their own house in order. But America in 2019 was going places! Jobs were plentiful. I believe that by autumn 2019 there had never in the history of America been so many people in paid employment.
If America is to be a force for good in the world, it must be strong AND confident. Biden, in his inauguration speech, wanted America to be “a force for good in the world”. (I believe his Administration still wants America to be a force for good in the world). But it cannot be if America must be ashamed of itself and humble. The dictators of this world would be springing up and down in glee. Behind closed doors obviously. (Trump here not included). So perhaps Ukraine is one result as are the ructions over the pandemic. (Had such division occurred during the Spanish Flu times?).
When America was strong and confident, it came out with cheerful and popular movies, TV shows and music. Especially from the 1930s to the 1980s. Now the fare is one of navel-gazing misery. Has been for a while.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustshoe Richinrut
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

Correct me if I’m wrong, but is this not what Mr Trump wanted? It seems that very often in this comments’ section even the mildest of criticisms of Mr Trump (or, in this case, just a statement of his policy) brings out the vitriol in some. I didn’t like the comment about BREXIT; it was not the reason that I and many, if not most, others voted to leave, but I don’t throw my toys out of the pram just because of one idle statement. You should read the rest of the article it has a number of interesting points to make

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago

My, such delicacy.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
1 year ago

What a snowflake!

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“Suspicion of foreigners facilitated Trump’s victory in 2016, as it did Brexit’s triumph.”

Bollocks, quite frankly. I’m a Brexit voter who is also almost a free-trade fundamentalist, and while global trade might have peaked in 2008, that in no way changes the fact that increased trade is a universally beneficial thing. One of my principle reasons for voting out of the EU is simply that the EU itself is a protection racket. To have made the claims above without recognising this fact calls into question the whole thesis, in my opinion.

More generally, I do not accept some of the arguments above: it is not inevitable, for instance, that the need to become more circumspect about where global supply lines are must lead to the need for an industrial strategy, as claimed, which is really just another word for dirigiste economic planning by governments. Nothing has changed about the fundamentals that history has proved to be a bad idea: the challenge is how to liberalise economies within the new strategic order, that’s all.

Last edited 2 years ago by John Riordan
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

Quite.
Looking at the author’s ‘job title’ and published work, one shakes one’s head at the insularity and group-think of academe. They’re part of the problem, not the solution, which is pretty unfortunate – for them. Away from the scivory towers, the world will move on in ways they can’t imagine, as indeed they didn’t imagine the world c.2022.

poli redux
poli redux
2 years ago

“Suspicion of foreigners facilitated Trump’s victory in 2016, as it did Brexit’s triumph.”
My support for brexit long predates Trump and was formed by the arguments put forward by Tony Benn, and other members of the Labour Left in 1975, and not by Donald Trump. Why do so many Americans not understand that the UK cannot be viewed as part of the US? We even have our own history. Opposition to large scale immigration from Europe was not based on suspicion of foreigners (I married one) but on the sure knowledge that it would be used as a mechanism for suppressing wage rates for UK workers. Always follow the money, Professor: your friends at Cambridge opposed brexit for exactly the same reason that I supported it.
By the way Professor, if the US wishes to join the EU, there is a vacancy.

Last edited 2 years ago by poli redux
James H Johnson
James H Johnson
2 years ago

Simple fact. Americans are not better off economically under the Biden administration than under Trump. Many of these declines are the direct result of pointless petty political policy decisions made by the Biden administration.
This is impossible for many in the media, academia and the political left to admit. The American people will likely set the record straight (again) in the November elections. Prepare yourself to once again see heads explode at CNN, NYT and WaPo.

Last edited 2 years ago by James H Johnson
Kat L
Kat L
2 years ago

We can only hope and prepare the popcorn

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago

That floundering network and the two journals of liberal opinion published for the small political elite of both parties are so totally over.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

Dear Lord, help me achieve such a state of secular grace, whereby I too may see the mote in other men’s eyes and recognise the orange evil when it stands before me, speaking truth in an uncharitable way and thereby threatening my purity.

David McKee
David McKee
2 years ago

Prof. Gerstle seems to think that there is a country called ‘Europe.’ Well, I expect the State Department is prone to the same error. There is no such political entity. There is the European Union, which is dominated by the French and Germans, which aspires to statehood. However, it is a very long way from that.
It is not that long ago that President Macron declared NATO ‘brain dead.’ As the Russo-Ukraine war has demonstrated, NATO is alive and kicking, with the EU sidelined. But then, this is not the first time that has happened. The crisis in the Western Balkans in the 1990s had exactly the same effect.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  David McKee

Quite a lot of “US Citizens” and probably a fair number of Brits think of Africa (and, for Brits, America) as political entities in the same way. Even among those who should have read their briefs, Remember Al Gore, when asked what he was going to do before embarking on a tour of Latin America he said he was going to learn some Latin. Ani fule noes that outside of Academia the only place you might hear Latin spoken “in the street” is the high hinterland of Sardinia

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago

Is “neo-liberalism” only a pejorative term, a moving target defined by its enemies?

Who are the defenders and promoters of something that they themselves call “neo-liberalism”?

Are we ever going to see an honest investigation of the role of government intervention in pushing banks to give subprime loans, or are we just accepting that the whole crisis was just “failure of capitalism”?

Terry M
Terry M
2 years ago

“Establishing outposts of free-market capitalism in countries such as Russia and China, it was hoped, would compel the regimes of those nations to liberalise: to institute the rule of law (if only to protect property and contracts), to embrace a free press and free elections, and maybe even to embrace democracy itself. Open markets, it was hoped, would produce open societies.
It is now clear that these hopes were misplaced.”
Nonsense. Trading partners that are mutually dependent rarely make war on each other. The problem with supply lines dependent on Russia or China goes afoul of one of the most basic tenets of business: Always have multiple sources of supply. And be sure at lease one of these is a supply line with a friendly nation, i.e. don’t become dependent on a potential adversary. Right, Germany?

Ian
Ian
2 years ago

Yet another author who thinks he knows the reason for Brexit and then demonstrates clearly in his own words that he doesn’t. A shame as there were some other interesting points made.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago

Frankly, the West is still living as if it were the 80s.

The relentless hatred towards Russia and the intent to extend NATO all the way to their border (or more likely, use that threat to provoke a “cheap” Afghanistan style war) on one hand.

The utterly relaxed attitude towards China on the other hand. A China that is far more hostile, dangerous and powerful than the Soviet bloc ever was.

There are clearly certain people running foreign policy and strategic thinking at the top, who are not just utterly ruthless, vile and immoral….but also really, really stupid and still think it’s the old cold war ongoing, while doing everything they can to lose the next one.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

It’s Russias actions that have prompted Sweden and Finland to shield themselves under NATOs collective defence, nothing else. Putin by ignoring written guarantees to respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territory for the last decade has meant that those countries no longer trust him, and so they’re forming alliances to protect themselves. Whatever Putins goals were in Ukraine, he seems further away from them than he ever has been

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

China has purchased influence all the way up to the White House. Hollywood, High Tech, the elite colleges and some not so elite are also in the Chinese pocket.

Ian Johnston
Ian Johnston
2 years ago

This article is so muddled, I don’t know where to begin.
Russians consider the 1990’s to have been a catastrophe, both from a geopolitical, but also from an economic/social perspective. The narrative of this time is that Western neoliberals danced on the grave of the Soviet Union by aiding kleptocrats to rape their respective countries via “shock therapy” and various “best practices” from the likes of HBS and Goldman Sachs.
The idea that either China or Russia think they have any even residual appetite to learn from Western neoliberalism is frankly laughable.
One minor peeve from the article. I have visited Crimea a number of times since it was brought fully under the Russian wing. My memories of Yalta, sitting on the corniche overlooking the Black Sea eating local oysters and drinking Crimean chardonnay didn’t immediately bring North Korea to mind.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 years ago

Lines like this are what lose me:
“Suspicion of foreigners facilitated Trump’s victory in 2016, as it did Brexit’s triumph”
Brexit didn’t happen because white British people hate brown foreigners.
Trump didn’t win because white Americans hate brown foreigners.

Were there some Brexit campaigners who campaigned on this? Absolutely. Were there some Trump lines that sounded like this? Absolutely. But to repeat the lie that these were the animating forces of both movements is simply an attempt to tar millions of voters who have watched their standards of living decline over the last 20-30 years and are now legitimately afraid that their children will inherit a country radically different than their own.

Is it racism for American rest belt workers to resent those who shipped their middle-class jobs overseas just to sell their products for a few dollars less?
Is it racism for UK Jews to worry about their safety as new “refugees” being militant Wahhabist ideologies with them?
Is it racism for Texas farmers overrun with illegals immigrants and crugs to want the border enforced?
Are former blue-wall voters racist for supporting Brexit and Tories?

Every time this “white people hate brown people” narrative is regurgitated, it makes genuine pluralistic government harder., Unherd shouldn’t be doing that.

Last edited 2 years ago by Brian Villanueva
Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 years ago

Yet another example of a defender of neoliberal globalism completely missing the point of Brexit and Trump. Neoliberals blame xenophobia and racism for these things because they NEED that to be true. Facing the reality that Brexit and Trump were an explicit rejection of globalism and neoliberalism, and that most of the world objects to being ruled by “experts” in some far off ivory tower would require them to admit their idea of a globalist utopia is never going to work, and they cannot and will not do that, because that belief is an article of their secular faith, and admitting it is wrong would be spiritual suicide.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

Neoliberalism is nothing more than liberalism perfected. The final triumph of the early modern liberals and their dreams. An atomised world of consumers and individuals. The idea that what we see now is a corruption is absolutely wrong. With the help of technology a world of individualist husks without borders is on its way. It is only enemies of the liberal order that will avoid that fate.

James 0
James 0
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

Socialists have claimed that socialism is liberalism ‘perfected’: a philosophy of genuine equality and freedom, or so they claim.
The truth is there are many different forms of liberalism and it’s foolish to see any one school or tradition as the ‘true’ version, just as one wouldn’t argue that a German Shephard or a Dalmation or a pitbull is the ‘true’ version of a dog.

James 0
James 0
2 years ago

It seems like the UnHerd comment section has become a Trump fan club. How bizarre.
For the record, I think the author’s comment about Brexit being motivated by “suspicion of foreigners” is extremely prejudiced, but what else would one expect from a transatlantic academic based out of Cambridge, one of the most Remain-leaning towns in the UK? I don’t blame Professor Gerstle but I do think he should seek out some contrary views. Especially given two of his colleagues at Cambridge — Chris Bickerton and Robert Tombs — are very prominent and intelligent Leave supporters.
Having said that, it that doesn’t detract from the facts that (i) the article contains several other interesting points that have nothing to do with his thoughts on Brexit, and (ii) Trump was indeed a dysfunctional clown who promised things he was in no way competent to deliver. One need not be a defender of Obama, Biden, etc, (all uniquely awful in different ways) to recognise this truth, which I had assumed was self-evident. Sorry if that rubs some people up the wrong way, but it remains true regardless.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
2 years ago
Reply to  James 0

I’m not a Trump supporter myself. I despise the man for the con artist and manipulator that he is. He isn’t really the populist he claims to be, he’s just an entertainer playing to the room he’s found himself in. That said, voting and elections are always about more than the men they elect, and to settle on suspicion of foreigners as the reason for Trump’s election is simply an oversimplification of something very complex. Two things can be true. Trump is horrible and neoliberalism has failed. Trump is just one attempt to find some alternative to what elites have offered for thirty or so years. There will be others.

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
2 years ago

in essence we can never go back to how it was…the flaws the Neo Libs need to address are all linked together….and in world trade there will have to be a levy against club members who don’t play by the rules…. (e.g. rule of law, human rights and humane work practises etc)…..
unfortunately, with G7 debt at 3x gdp, it is clear we bet the ranch on idea these conditions (a “just in time” world of suppressed labour costs and no strategic contingency) would pertain forever. in this world the basics were very cheap and we thought it was ok to become reliant on Putin’s gas. The true costs of living in the real world are probably 30% above what we are used to. those with work and pricing power (organised labour and providers of essential goods and services) will see their wages grow. many of those who did so extra specially well out of globalism better fasten their seat belts. inflation happens when politics fail. if it stays inside bounds it is a thief with Robin Hood qualities. our problems are monetary and neither the right or the left want to grasp this.

Wolfgang Blodig
Wolfgang Blodig
2 years ago

“and a flow of political power away from national legislatures and toward international organisations, private and public”.
I doubt that abolishing democracy should be pursued. Bad enought that this is already happening with most people not even noticing.

harry storm
harry storm
2 years ago

I don’t know enough about economics to critique this article in its entirety, but I do know enough about history to know that this statement: “The response of Europe and America to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reveals not just shock and horror at Putin’s savagery but a determination to restore a neoliberal world order that had been slipping away” is absurd, not only because little evidence is provided to support what the author believes are other motives besides the “shock and horror,” but also because the statement is supported by the following ridiculous statement: “Europe and America have rapidly been repairing a frayed Atlantic alliance. They have revived the spirit of the Atlantic Charter, agreed to by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1941, that called for restoring the values and principles that the Nazis were so intent upon destroying: the rule of law, respect for the territorial integrity of nations, the right of peoples to be free and self-governing, and the pursuit of economic prosperity through peace and trade rather than war and conquest.”
The conflation of the post-WWII economic settlement (i.e. Bretton Woods, GATT, etc.) and the globalism of the 1990s and early 2000s is misplaced, to put it kindly.

Last edited 2 years ago by harry storm
Andrzej Wasniewski
Andrzej Wasniewski
1 year ago

‘the neoliberal economic order cannot successfully be restored for the long term without” ……” a flow of political power away from national legislatures and toward international organisations, private and public.”
The shills on payroll of the World Economic Forum cartel come in every flavor, color and shape.
What they want is unlimited power without any accountability to the people.
Particularly appealing is the transfer of power to the private international organizations. If that’s what neoliberal economic order means, the world controlled by Klaus, Bill etc then we should kill this monster and put the wooden stick though its heart.

Last edited 1 year ago by Andrzej Wasniewski
Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
2 years ago

There is a 60s album called Forever Changes. The songwriter’s girlfriend told him she would love him forever, but she left soon after her promise.

Earl King
Earl King
2 years ago

The author is asking us to choose economic growth or economic dislocation. The Worlds population including the poorer countries all experienced a growth in per capita income in the globalization decades.
The US experience of top of heap in terms of economic output most of the decades following WWII was somewhat artificial as the only industrialized nation that experienced no destruction. Then with the computer age we happen to have the geniuses in our country and universities to largely own it.
I have no idea what will happen in the future but I’d like to think that economic output for the benefit of any countries citizens is paramount rather than historical grievances. As the Buddhist farmer said…”We shall see”.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

“Globalisation has strengthened authoritarianism and illiberalism, not weakened them”
Sweeping statement, poorly evidenced. China was not notably more tolerant during Mao’s reign, for a starter! The Russian privatisations of the 1990s were naive, botched and rushed (albeit championed by many Russian economists) in a state that had a state-run economy for 70 years, and led indirectly to the restoration of autocratic rule. However even Putin isn’t quite as bad as Stalin.

Samuel Ross
Samuel Ross
2 years ago

I commend the author. An excellent article of a caliber not often seen. Keep this one, he’s a treasure. A very nice encapsulation of what brought us here, plusses and minuses, and what will carry us away into the future. Thank you, Gary.

patrick macaskie
patrick macaskie
2 years ago

I don’t think anyone sensible wants liberalism and globalism to collapse …..we just want the body politic to come to its’ senses. Ukraine will come to be seen as a historic inflection point…..where that leads us is not apparent yet. my best hunch is it will kill all forms of quackery and the more subversive attempts to attack democracy on both the right and left….but for this to happen we need to get real about the tab we created and the hideous distortions that were the unpaid costs of keeping the globalist show on the road ( in the last 20 years). the centrists on the right and the left still pretend it is business as usual and it is not. getting out of this hole requires intelligence, honesty and a sense of national purpose

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
1 year ago

In re: the Brexit dig: Everbody seems to miss the simple fact that the EU is a deeply evil organisation; dishonest, self serving (along familiar class divisions), and vicious (remember the extortion of Greece? And all those drowning refugees?).
The Brits are better off not belonging to that club.

Henry Cunha
Henry Cunha
2 years ago

But world trade in goods as a percent of GDP, ranging at about 50-60% for the last decade, isn’t as significant a factor for every country individually. The US’s percentage, for instance, is only about 25%, China’s is 35%. The OECD as a whole is 50%. Even Russia’s is in the low 50s.
The neoliberal arrangement is far from failing. It has, after all, transformed China’s worldview, and pretty much killed the command economy approach of the USSR. It has also, for all its faults, resulted in the greatest increase in world GDP in recorded time.
Moreover, inequality is broadly recognized as a problem. Thus China’s turn to “common prosperity”. Unlike a century ago, most government’s budgets are spent overwhelmingly on health, education, social welfare, and other public goods.
I’m open to suggestions about the next best world order, but don’t really see what the organizing principle might be.

Henry Cunha
Henry Cunha
2 years ago
Reply to  Henry Cunha

It’s worth mentioning, by the way, that we don’t have “unfettered capitalism” anywhere of note. It’s a myth.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
2 years ago

Most excellent essay thanks – who would have thought that chasing profit above all else might end badly for many people. God how I despise politicians and corporates !!

martin logan
martin logan
2 years ago

The reader complaints about the writer’s prejudice against Trump ignore the chief problem with his administration: his complete lack of consistency through all four years.
We have absolutely no idea how Trump would have reacted to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Trump could as easily have welcomed it as a “smart move”–or used tactical nuclear weapons to stop it. Indeed, even Trump probably has no clue.
Whatever one thinks of Neoliberalism, having a man of sub-normal intelligence in charge, with zero experience except for his salesmanship, is never good in any era.
And neither is having a former spy of only average intelligence, and advised by a tiny group of not very intelligence people–as is the case with Putin.

Paul O
Paul O
2 years ago
Reply to  martin logan

Trump had diologues with pretty much every world leader and clearly favored diplomacy over invasion.

USA invaded and caused major conflicts under every president since Clinton and yet people strangely talk about Trump as though he was a warmonger.

If there is any president who would risk a full-on war with Russia it is, without any shadow of a doubt, the current POTUS.

For four years we saw a reduction in invasions and war and within a year of Trump leaving office and you have a major hot conflict underway.

I wouldn’t want Trump to be the next president, as I have other preferences, but there’s no denying that the world was safer when he was president than it is right now. Well, that is unless you consider the Ukraine conflict to be just a bit of a skirmish.

ARNAUD ALMARIC
ARNAUD ALMARIC
2 years ago
Reply to  martin logan

You are not seriously suggesting that Joe Biden is any better are you?