Re: What does `neoliberal’ mean?… terminology primer

1998-06-04

Michael Papadopoulos

from: http://www.zmag.org/chomneolibfor.htm

                         Chomsky on "neoliberalism"
                                      
     It's not my term. I'm just borrowing it from standard usage.
     
     The "neo" part is supposed to indicate that it is a novel version
     of "liberalism," which is to be understood in the sense of
     classical liberalism, the market doctrines of Smith, Ricardo, etc.
     The terminology is highly misleading: the doctrines are scarcely
     those of classical liberalism, and the current version is
     centuries-old; in fact, the selective imposition of the doctrines
     on the defenseless, while they were freely violated by the
     powerful, is a good part of the reason for the current divide
     between the 1st and 3d world, much more similar 2 centuries ago.
     
     Current "neoliberal" doctrine is sometimes called "the Washington
     consensus," a term that is more apt. The reference is to the
     prescriptions of the International Financial Institutions (World
     Bank, IMF) and the rich countries (G-7 mainly, primarily the US).
     
     These include cutback of social programs and public expenditures
     ("fiscal discipline"), tax reductions (particularly for the rich),
     deregulation, freedom for foreign investors, freeing up financial
     flows (so that the local wealthy can export capital at will and
     foreign speculators are free from constraints -- a good part of
     what lay behind the Latin American "debt crisis" and the current
     Asia crisis), privatization (so that foreign investors and local
     fatcats, usually in bed with the rulers, can pick up the country's
     assets), etc.
     
     As noted, the doctrines are not novel. Nor is their selectivity.
     
     The rich, the US in the lead, violate the prescriptions whenever
     they can get away with it, as before.
     
                                                            Noam Chomsky

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