Wednesday, April 06, 2016

A headline on foreignpolicy.com:
"TAXPAYERS OF THE WORLD, UNITE!: The Panama Papers confirm that the world’s elite cheat, lie, and steal. Will the masses finally do something about it?"

Yes, there will be some rattles in the canteen and some whispers behind the desks then apart from a couple of exceptions, "the taxpayers" will carry on with their lives. One shouldn't underestimate how much capitalism, and its latest form, neoliberalism, has entrenched itself in people lives and minds. One shouldn't understimate the conservatism in people and the fear of taking responsibility. One shouldn't underestimate a bigger turn to the right. It is going to need events/incidents of seismic proportions to make people look for a genuine change.

A discussion between Pierre Bourdieu and Günter Grass:

Bourdieu: But there is a connexion between this sense of having lost the traditions of the Enlightenment and the global triumph of the neoliberal vision. I see neoliberalism as a conservative revolution, as the term was used between the wars in Germany—a strange revolution that restores the past but presents itself as progressive, transforming regression itself into a form of progress. It does this so well that those who oppose it are made to appear regressive themselves. This is something we have both endured: we are readily treated as old-fashioned, ‘has-beens’, ‘throwbacks’ . . .
Grass: Dinosaurs . . . 
Bourdieu: Exactly. This is the great strength of conservative revolutions, of ‘progressive’ restorations. Even some of what you’ve said today is influenced by the idea—we’re told we lack humour. But the times aren’t funny! There’s really nothing to laugh about.
Grass: I wasn’t saying that we live in merry times. The infernal laughter that literature can prompt is another way of protesting against the conditions in which we live. You spoke of a conservative revolution; what’s being sold today as neoliberalism is simply a return to the methods of nineteenth-century Manchester liberalism, in the belief that history can be rewound. In the fifties, sixties, and even in the seventies, a relatively successful attempt to civilize capitalism was made across Europe. If one assumes that socialism and capitalism are both ingenious, wayward children of the Enlightenment, they can be regarded as having imposed certain checks on each other. Even capitalism was obliged to accept and take care of certain responsibilities. In Germany this was called the social market economy, and even among Christian Democrats there was an understanding that the conditions of the Weimar Republic should never be allowed to return. This consensus broke down in the early eighties. And since the collapse of the Communist hierarchies, capitalism—recast as neoliberalism—has felt it could run riot, as if out of control. There is no longer a counterweight to it. Today even the few remaining responsible capitalists are raising a warning finger, as they watch their instruments slip from their grasp, and see neoliberalism repeating the mistakes of Communism—issuing articles of faith that deny there is any alternative to the free market and claiming infallibility. Catholics proceed in the same way with some of their dogmas, just as the bureaucrats of the Central Committees did earlier. 
Bourdieu: Yes, but the strength of neoliberalism lies in the fact that it has been implemented, at least in Europe, by people who label themselves socialists. Schroeder, Blair, Jospin all invoke socialism in order to carry out neoliberal policies. This makes critical analysis extremely difficult because, once again, all the terms of the debate have been reversed.
Grass: A capitulation to the economy is taking place.


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