Summarising the Neo-Liberal Agenda – A Letter to Treasury

Reading Adam SmithDear Treasury neo-liberals, and mega-corporate backers of Ayn Rand et al. in various university neo-liberal seminaries.

My Adam Smith quote of the day.

“The proposal of any new law or regulation which comes from [businessmen], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.” –

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations, vol. 1, pt. xi, p.10 (at the conclusion of the chapter)(1776)

There are so many others; I may write to you again.

Kids had jobsI haven’t heard you mention these thoughts any time since the 1980s. So I’m a little confused about the idea you put forward that the ‘free’ market is benevolent, made up as you say it is by ‘an infinite number of equally-powerless firms’ which rise and fall on merit. Did you mean ‘free to exploit’ when you keep using the word ‘freedom’?

Hmmm, anyway, the idea of trusting life to large corporates doesn’t seem to be what Smith the Moral Philosopher, and your chosen prophet of neo-liberalism, suggests. Am I reading him wrong? Out of context perhaps? “What he really meant was ….” sort of thing?

Government by merchants

So who are you working for again? The people, right?

That’s why you are so into the following ….

GE; privatisation; forget climate change because the Market (hail) “will provide”, and that Market (Glory to His name) self-regulates a perfectly predictable mechanical world with infinite ‘resources’, which obviously aren’t running out because if they were then the Market would have indicated by a price – and oil prices have fallen so obviously we’re fine. And then there’s deregulation of social & environmental protection; user pays; praise self-interest; boo co-operation and community; cheer greed and power (and smart suits); objectify people and land.

postcolonial_imageAnd – my favourite – let’s re-open a new path to colonisation (control the world’s land & resources, use their cheap labour – and take all the dosh back to the ‘home’ country – or, in our current age, to the Hamptons or 5th Avenue)

Given that I live in a colonial country with our very own history of this wonderful and benevolent age, I feel nostalgic. It’s just like old times. Except we don’t have the Top 1% NYpageantry of Governors, Redcoats and Gunboats. But who needs imperial powers when you can do it all with mega-corporations nowadays – although those awful Chinese and Indians seem to have a bit of a grudge and won’t let it happen to them again. After all, according to your highly realistic theory, we all live in the same international scale meritorious village, where power doesn’t exist, nor history either, so come right in and buy all our land and argue away for corporate welfare deals and the right to exploit, while making our people pay for it. They’re only ‘resources’ after all. Grist for the mill.

Land ownershipWhat next? Oh yes, corporatise science – Rothmans always did it better anyway. Tell departments what to say in their ‘independent advice’, in a way that is presentable to the public – we’re not fooling them, we’re educating them. Make sure we emphasis the quantitative sciences, engineering & commerce rather than the Humanities, because that might give the ‘people resources’ (which some people refer to as ‘humans’) the ability to contextualise and think outside the spreadsheet and the dollars.

Then vilify the poor; let corporates run our prisons with all the incentives to increase recidivism. Let a couple of large corporates control all the Command & Controlmedia in the country. More efficient, obviously. Restructure the public sector along corporate lines – with CEOs and obedient hierarchical staff where those who voice a different thought will be marked as  trouble. Promote the loyal box-tickers who have no problem scheduling trains wherever they may go … and the sociopaths of course. Take the ‘managing the perceptions’ by spin to a completely new level. A good thing that people are all knowing and rational, because otherwise that might be seen as manipulative.

Keep ‘em coming. I’m convinced.

Oh, almost forgot, lose any shred of Noblesse Oblige; select wide-boy, deal-making commission salespeople as politicians, who are, of course, widely known for their great depth, breadth, and long-term cultured view of life. Qualities of the true Statesperson. Raise vital issues like a new ‘flag’ (aka corporate logo NZ Inc.), and chum up to the All Blacks without any shred of dignity. People will know that you really, really, really like and identify with those great guys in the team …. unlike the opposition. Circuses still work apparently; shame about the bread.

Taking all Vile Maxim

Lastly, let’s start a media campaign that says Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn are radical lunatics with weird ideas –

a tinge of the ironic, that last. I almost laughed

– and obviously rag-head loving communists bent on the destruction of life, liberty and the common good.

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2 Responses to Summarising the Neo-Liberal Agenda – A Letter to Treasury

  1. Justin Drinnan says:

    Enjoyed this post very much. I did not realise that the poster boy for the modern day free market zealots was frankly such a subversive socialist lefty loony. This moral philosophy business really does sound like dangerous stuff. You have inspired me to read some more. The Adam Smith quotes you provided are simple and morally honest. Beware of big business influencing politics. Income inequality is a road to ruin. Rentier economies are about the greedy exploitation of people and places. Hey, welcome to John Key’s New Zealand. I reckon Adam Smith wouldn’t have had a bar of the way we are heading. Keep up the great posts.

    • cjkperley says:

      Thanks Justin. Isn’t it interesting that both Smith and Marx understood power, manipulation and exploitation and yet according to the neo-liberal assumptions we all live in what Adam Smith DID applaud – a village economy where there were *no* power differentials. It’s as if power doesn’t exist. How can anyone think that is real? How can anyone give any credit whatsoever to any economic policy that assumes equal powerlessness? This is not rational, and yet neo-liberals claim to be that (we all are apparently; utility-maximising individuals, and not in any way social).

      Which leaves the economy open to those very powerful interests who are the most despicable because apparently they don’t exist, and all policies are designed with that assumption in mind. And we become just what Smith argued against – an oligarchy of powerful interests undermining democracy and place. Do economists never read history of exploitation, colonisation, imperialism, feudalism, or the social excesses of the industrial revolution?

      Neoliberalism allows evil to flourish, period. Which is why we should never vote for any party that supports it. We need to change this world, before it is too late.

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