Economy Lynn Paramore

Our Economic System is Making Us Mentally Ill

The neoliberal economy was supposed to bring about a utopian world order. Instead, it gave us crippling psychological stress and social breakdown. How can we ever recover?
Stack of money coin with trading graph, financial investment concept use for background. By Tendo on Shutterstock

By Lynn Paramore / Institute for New Economic Thinking

If you’re unlucky enough to reside in a town where data centers house computer servers storing everything from financial data for giant corporations to military secrets, you’re likely to find that a loud, whining noise becomes life’s agonizing background. The sound peaks and subsides, but it’s always there, never allowing you to fully relax. Eventually, the stress of this kind of ambient noise can wear you down, doubling your risk of mental illness, as well as increasing your risk of diseases like heart attack and stroke.

Living in an economy dominated by neoliberal principles can feel kind of like that: a background hum of constant psychological stress.

The sense of precariousness never really goes away. Instead collectively of sharing the risks of life, we’re increasingly saddled with the heavy burdens of existing in an overwhelmingly complex, modern world. We’re lonely individuals, fighting to stay afloat no matter what our situation. There are a few lucky winners, sure (and even many of them are psychically damaged), but most of us are forced to battle in an unrelenting struggle and competition for rewards. Hunger games, status games, power games, the list goes on and on.

In the big picture, the cumulative impact of shoddy safety nets, rapacious business practices, money-driven politics, and severe economic inequality is crushing our hope for the future, which we need to survive. Our trust in one another and in our institutions is dissolving. Our mental and physical health can’t stand up to this.

Harrowing conditions like major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are among the leading causes of disability in established market economies, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Even before the pandemic, more than a quarter of American adults were afflicted by a diagnosable mental disorder. Then, in 2020, global rates of depression and anxiety soared by more than 25%, a jaw-dropping one-year rise, linked to the pandemic, that has especially devastated women and young people. American doctors have declared the mental health crises among children a state of emergency. And all this mental distress fuels physical disease, like stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

The twentieth-century movement of neoliberalism, the dominant economic philosophy of the last half-century in the United States and much of the world, has foisted upon us a false view of the world with myriad negative outcomes for human wellbeing. The question is, how can we recover from its maladies? We had better figure it out soon because a half-century of the unrelenting strain of this toxic philosophy is breaking us down.

A Plan to Shift the Human Soul

The roots of the neoliberal perspective sprung from a world shattered by the collapse of empires and the chaos produced by the first World War. Austrian economists and business advocates in the 1920s and ‘30s, like Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek, working at the time in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, worried about how a rump nation like Austria could get along in the new global landscape. The specter of socialism and communism in Hungary, part of the old Habsburg Empire, which briefly went red in 1919, added to their anxiety. They were also afraid of rising nation-states calling the shots on economic matters by doing things like raising tariffs – especially nations governed by democracies that recognized the interests of regular people. The spread of universal male voting rights set off alarm bells that power was shifting.

How could capitalists survive without a vast network of colonies to rely on for resources? How could they protect themselves from continuing interference in business and seizures of private property? How might they resist increasing democratic demands for more broadly shared economic resources?

These were big questions, and neoliberal answers reflected their fears. From their viewpoint, the political world looked frightening and uncertain – a place where the masses were constantly agitating to disrupt the realm of private enterprise by forming labor unions, conducting protests, and making demands to reallocate resources.

What neoliberals wanted was a sacred space free from such turmoil – a transcendent world economy where capital and goods could flow without restraint. They imagined a place where capitalists were secure from democratic processes and protected by carefully constructed institutions and laws — and by force, if necessary. Neoliberals weren’t fully opposed to democracies as long as they could be constrained to provide a safe haven for capitalists, but if they didn’t, many thought that authoritarianism would do just fine, too.

These early stirrings of neoliberalism were thus a kind of theology, a utopian longing for an abstract, invisible world of numbers that humans could not spoil. In this promised land, talk of social justice and economic plans to enhance the public good was heresy. “Society” was a realm which, at best, should be kept strictly separate from the economy. At worst, it was the enemy of the global economy — the troublesome domain of nonmarket values and popular concerns that got in the way of capitalist transcendence.

After World War II, the neoliberals organized formally as the Mount Pelerin Society, in which key figures like Hayek pushed the vision of a “competitive order” where competition among producers, employers, and consumers would keep the global economy humming along smoothly and protect everybody from abuse (quite an idea, that). Protections like social insurance and regulatory frameworks were unnecessary.

Basically, the market was God, and people were here to serve it – not the other way around.

For neoliberals, the twentieth century wasn’t about the Cold War, which didn’t much interest them. It was about fighting against things like Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and what they considered dangerous totalitarian schemes of economic equality. As historian Quinn Slobodian put it in his book Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism, they set their sights on the “development of a planet linked by money, information, and goods where the signature achievement of the century was not an international community, a global civil society, or the deepening of democracy, but an ever-integrating object called the world economy and the institutions designated to encase it.”

Neoliberals dedicated themselves to protecting unrestricted global trade, crushing labor unions, deregulating business, and usurping government’s role in providing for the common good with privatization and austerity. While it’s true that most Western governments, as well as powerful global institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, are deeply influenced by neoliberalism today, it really wasn’t until the 2007-8 Global Financial Crisis that most people had even heard of the movement.

That’s because, for a long time, neoliberalism invaded our lives like a stealth virus.

During the first half of the twentieth century, it was mostly rich right-wingers who cottoned to the neoliberal prescription for world order. Economist John Maynard Keynes, who called for government intervention in markets to protect people from the kind of flaws and abuses so clearly demonstrated in the Great Depression, was much more influential.

But neoliberals kept their economic utopian dream alive by patiently building institutions, focusing on creating legal restraints for democracies, and seeding their ideas in supranational institutions and in academic outposts like the University of Chicago. They funded symposia, scholars, books, and reports, gaining well-known cheerleaders like economist Milton Friedman, and lesser-known but influential ones like James Buchanan, the only Southerner to win the Nobel Prize in economics.

The turn to neoliberalism really didn’t go mainstream until the 1970s, when conservatives blamed economic upheaval on too much government spending and labor power. By the 1980s, neoliberal champion Margaret Thatcher felt comfortable letting the agenda fully out of the bag: “Economics are the method: the object is to change the soul,” she announced.

It seems strange to mention the dismal science in connection with the human soul, but Thatcher had a point. Neoliberalism seeks to shift how human beings exist in the world, to change how we relate to each other and what we expect from life. Over time, we move from considering ourselves mutually responsible beings with a shared fate to isolated atoms liable solely for our own lives. Gradually, we shift from empowered citizens to people destined for servitude to arbitrary economic powers that lay well beyond our reach or understanding. Our humanity fades into an abstract realm of incomprehensible numbers and data, and we become little more than commodities, or even embodied externalities, in an invisible global economy ruled somehow by an invisible fist.

Unsurprisingly, this mode of existence produces maladies of mind, body, and spirit, elevating some of our most troublesome instincts as it denigrates many of the best.

Three Maladies: Distrust, Disconnection, and Disempowerment

A key tenant of neoliberal philosophy is that to live is to compete. As Slobodian has described, the architects of neoliberalism focused on “pushing policies to deepen the power of competition to shape and direct human life.” For them, the best world is brought about by everyone constantly striving to get more or better than their neighbor.

In a society dominated by this kind of thinking, you find yourself inculcated with a competitive mindset the minute you enter school. The simplest expression of your vitality, like singing, running, or jumping, is quickly nudged into a competitive framework. You can’t just jump for joy; you have to be the number one jumper. The point is not the intrinsic reward of the activity but the thrill of beating someone else, or perhaps the negative relief of not being a loser. You are trained to categorize your fellows according to whether they win or lose, sensing that you should just give up on activities in where you don’t “excel.”

Gradually, you grow distrustful of both your own natural instincts and of the motivations of other people. After all, helping others succeed means they may win the prize instead of you in a zero-sum game. Thinking selfishly becomes second nature. As researchers on the impacts of neoliberalism have shown, we become restless perfectionists, endlessly trying to perfect ourselves.

As political economist Gordon Lafer has noted, (increasingly defunded) schools become the place where ordinary kids are groomed for servitude and prepared for a life in which they are likely to find themselves either stuck or sliding downward on the economic ladder.

You learn to accept a world of diminishing, not expanding, possibilities.

A sense of disconnection increases as life progresses. In a place like the U.S., you grow up with low expectations of anyone really caring about you, resigned to spending most of your energy trying to fund life’s necessities, like healthcare and education, all the while dealing with shape-shifting predators in the form of the insurance firm, the bank, the utility company, the hospital, the police, the fill-in-the-blank – those entities which neoliberals made sure were free from the pressures of regulation and legal remedies. If you have a problem, the night watchman state isn’t interested; ask anyone who’s tried to deal with bank charges or utility bills.

You begin to understand that you don’t have much agency in the world. Life feels precarious, and that is exactly what neoliberals intended because they believed that living in such a state was necessary to “discipline” people to accept their place in a world ruled by capitalists. 

As a citizen, your influence feels negligible. Neoliberalism tends to dimmish the political agency of ordinary people, offering us a wide array of (often subpar) consumer goods as compensation. As concentrated wealth takes over the political system, we see that what most people want – universal health care, a tax system in which the wealthy pay their share, affordable education, decent jobs, reproductive rights – are increasingly ignored in the policies and laws that govern our lives. Neoliberals sought only to expand the freedom and agency of property owners, as James Buchanan explained in his 1993 book, “Property as a Guarantor of Liberty.” In his view, everybody else was little more than a parasite trying to bleed the capitalist dry.

In 2007, Alan Greenspan declared that “it hardly makes any difference who will be the next president. The world is governed by market forces.” What he didn’t mention is that market forces are governed by capitalists, even though neoliberals pretend that their vision of markets doesn’t lead to asymmetries of power that result in monopoly practices, the undermining of citizens’ legal rights, and the dumping of the risks of business activities onto society. By the time Greenspan was making his declaration, people had begun to get used to the idea that predatory financialized markets designed by and for capitalists had crept into every aspect of our lives, from education to medicine to policing. (Of course, few had done as much as Greenspan to make that happen, with his preposterous confidence in reputation as a substitute for serious regulation.)

Today, the sick neoliberal vision has taken hold to such an extent that if you find yourself in a hospital emergency room, a hedge fund manager may well decide your fate. Perpetually anxious in our atomized existence, we shoulder our debts and burdens alone, inured to sacrificing our wellbeing, our natural habitats, and even, as the pandemic has shown us, our very lives, to “the economy.”

At the end of this weary road, when you’re too old to work anymore, you’re likely to be faced with an uncertain and underfunded retirement, all the while scolded by neoliberals for not being more careful as you struggled for bare survival. And even if with the most carefully laid plans, you are likely to be rewarded by being sicker and dying younger than those who came before you.

Neoliberalism says: suck it up, because this is as good as it gets. Is it any wonder that we are starting to break down?

The Covid-19 pandemic has shined a glaring light on the ugliness of the failures and insufficiencies of the neoliberal approach – and yet governments are still pushing out policies that prioritize business security above the lives of the vast majority of people. 

Stressed-out workers simply can’t cope anymore. At a time when most Americans are worried about the economy, low-wage workers are walking off the job. Data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in January 2022 illustrates a trend of hanging up your hat so widespread that 2021 has been called the “Year of the Quit.”

Contrary to popular narratives, the quitting wasn’t mostly driven by better-off employees doing something more fulfilling. Instead, industries with low-wage workers saw the highest number leaving the job. While it may not seem rational for a worker worried about the economy to quit even an undesirable, inflexible, low-wage position, a worker beaten down by depression and anxiety might logically do just that, unable to tolerate the punishing demands while worrying about getting sick, caring for children or other family members, and being forced to take on extra duties as employers struggle to fill positions. It’s simply too much.

The transition from the welfare state to neoliberalism has meant that you are responsible for everything, even what is clearly out of your control. You have to reinvent the wheel every time you try to solve a problem, like how to pay for a house, how to get an education, how to have surgery, how to retire. There are unpleasant surprises at every turn.

Neoliberalism is not a happy philosophy, carrying a belief that human discontent is not only a natural but actually a desirable, state of affairs. It has had a huge impact on the culture of the U.S. and other countries where it holds sway and acts as a largely unrecognized drag on health and well-being. It’s no coincidence that the prevalence of mental health problems both nationally and globally is rising. Broken marriages, addictions, loneliness, and deadly despair are taking their toll.

So what’s the alternative? Let’s begin by stating the obvious. A sane society is not run for the economic benefit of a few wealthy capitalists. That is a sick society, and we are living proof of it.

Since the 1980s, we’ve been trained to think of this psychologically crippling state of affairs as normal, when it’s actually anything but.

Part of our recovery is remembering what truly makes us human. Researchers have found that a baby at six months already displays the instinct for empathy, illustrating that caring about what happens to our fellows is part of our DNA. On a collective level, anthropologists like David Graeber have shown that human societies have not always been organized along the lines of domination and inflexible hierarchies. We have choices, and we can make those that better align with our positive instincts. We can give parents the ability to nurture children, like bringing fathers into nurturing from the moment of birth, providing gender-blind parental leave, and making childcare affordable. By extension, our nurturing of the young enhances our ability to care for each other, our communities, and nature writ large.

Our common good is enhanced by political arrangements in which cooperative forms of participation and the needs of ordinary people are prioritized. This means pretty much doing the opposite of what neoliberals have championed. We acknowledge that governments can and must intervene in markets so that people are protected from abuse. We focus relentlessly on getting money out of politics and making voting something that everybody can do easily. We regulate business, enhance the power of working people, and ensure that the global economy is not just one big race to the bottom but a system in which the needs and rights of all inhabitants are considered.

Recovery demands that we create, as economist Peter Temin has stressed, a unified economy instead of the bifurcated one neoliberals and their libertarian offspring have brought us. We focus on restoring and expanding education and shifting resources from policies like mass incarceration. We focus on establishing and enhancing safety nets so that life is not just one arduous, Hobbesian slog, but a journey in which creativity and joyful pursuits are available to everyone. Instead of hyper-focusing on competition, we emphasize mutual succor, and we remember, as the denizens of Silicon Valley seek to drag us into an ever-more abstract metaverse, that we are embodied creatures who need real-life communion more than digital connectivity. We demand to be trained for jobs that are dignified, decently paid, and free from abuse.

The remedies to the maladies stoked by neoliberalism involve doing what it takes to enhance our sense of trust and shared fate. We move from privatization to the public interest, from solo flying to sharing risks, from financialization to a fair economy, from the common denominator to the common good.

Such a shift requires enormous resources of endurance, commitment, patience, and boldness. Neoliberals manifested these things. They played a long, tough game to get their ultimately antisocial, anti-life ideas accepted as mainstream. Our recovery and the widespread acceptance of a better, healthier narrative will not happen overnight. At first, demands for economic equality, political rights, and social justice will sound radical and futile, and those who promote them will be called dreamers and lunatics. That’s just what happened to the neoliberals when they first demanded a transcendent promised land for capitalists free from democratic constraints. They took the hits and kept going.

If we learn to play a long game, the future can be our world, not theirs. That awful, whining hum in the background of our lives might be changed to a tune we can actually dance to. 

Lynn Paramore

Lynn Parramore is Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

22 comments

    1. Can’t have a single conversation without someone shilling for blockchain. These shills have done nothing to end poverty or reallocate resources. Absolutely nothing.

      1. Your arrogance is stunning considering that bullion based transactions are only now entering the marketplace.

        —> These shills have done nothing to end poverty or reallocate resources. Absolutely nothing.

        That’s a reference to digital “assets” that are unbacked by bullion , which goes to support why merchants don’t want to accept them. Can’t say I blame them either.

  1. You are absolutely right. Except there is no time to play the long game.

    1. there’s plenty of time. As long as we begin to transact without the use of debt and inflationary debt can be discharged from circulation just a wee bit at a time, the sun rises the next day and it shines a bit brighter.

  2. I am sorry but this doesn’t even scratch the surface of how the western economic model has destroyed the environment along with the human psyche. The author got on to a ‘neoliberal’ tangent and then proceeded to write the word ‘neoliberal’ 37 times. Understanding the economy and how it has informed social organization for the last 10,000 years is paramount to meaningful change. Rambling on about a particular view that exists within the dominant political sphere is a complete waste of time.

  3. You are of course absolutely right about our sad condition but as the cycles of history turn so new ideas and constructs emerge and you are part of it, writing as you do. The transition will be slow and painful but ‘The Fourth Turning’ tells us it will end, this too will pass, and the generations that are rising now will create a new order.

    You may be interested in reading this book which seems to fit your aspirations for a New Economy:
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/UBUNTU-Contributionism-Blueprint-Prosperity-Exposing/dp/1920153098/ref=asc_df_1920153098/?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=344397542285&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=18189320232179907128&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9045678&hvtargid=pla-493304840116&psc=1&th=1&psc=1

  4. Ms. Paramore has written an inspiring piece not only highlighting the utterly destructive commitment to death and destruction of the neoliberal movement but pointing to some of the very important ways we can begin to point ourselves to a direction built upon our natural inclinations to love and empathize and nurture and support. 12 years ago I made the conscious decision to leave the USA after the Obama Administration brought the likes of neoliberals like Summers, Rubin, Geithner ad nauseum into key positions to “recover” from the financial meltdown each has ingloriously perpetrated on the world economy. The Audacity of Hope was shriveled into a caricature of the very hope that the People yearned for. Looking out on the world, I saw China as the only country likely to offer some kind of pushback to the neoliberalism of the West, especially its ubiquitous American Empire. I harbored no human rights illusions about the Chinese government but I brought with me an approach to career and life design counseling that was essentially spiritual in its impact in building self-esteem in people. My hope was to do my small part in helping young Chinese people avoid the abyss of consumerism and help stimulate their sense of agency in directing their own lives towards intrinsic goals and the greater happiness one can find there in this bittersweet life. Our only hope as a species lies in people developing the values and skills that make for a great sense of empowerment to work collectively on turning the world away from neoliberalism and its draconian impacts on the human soul and the spirit of cooperation. Neoliberalism lays down the red carpet to fascism and each of us must do our part to save our entire planet from the desolation that neoliberalism and fascism bring.

  5. No family, community, or government support. A rapacious economic system where you are exploited and encouraged to exploit others. It is depressing and encourages mindless escapism. That is a very sick society.

    1. You’re defining a debt based system. Do you realize that ?
      The free market can effect a change here, one that is market driven and has already begun.

      1. This writer publishes an article that lists how the “market-driven” “free market” is KILLING US, and somebody spits out a reply that, “no, what you really need is a FREE MARKET!”

        A market free to do what, Michael? Free to dump PFOS, PFAS, plastics, arsenic, and mercury in our water, externalizing clean up to taxpayers?

        A market free to use child labor?

        A market free burn fossil fuels that escalate global temperatures, unleashing more and stronger hurricanes, massive droughts, aquifer depletion, violent floods, and brutal heatwaves?

      2. Sure but isn’t that all in context to debt (legal tender) being the only form of money in circulation.
        Free market capitalism in the true sense is a work in progress and incomplete. It cannot exist and thrive long term on the back of debt and debt alone. It will capitalize itself over time, through inflation.

        The monetary model is incomplete much like a “Yang” that has no “Yin” and is therefore out of balance and cannot operate within symbiosis. It’s doomed.

        Said another way, think of riding a bicycle to toward your noble economic destination and the bike is designed for two wheels but you only have one wheel assembled onto the frame. Tough go, right ? What to do now ?

        We now need debt-free market based currency to enter circulation in support of our economic goals where real wealth creation supports a better living standard and the safe and sane removal of inflationary debt from the economy.

  6. “It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” ( Jiddu Krishnamurti)

    How do you get people to adjust to the distrust, disconnection, and disempowerment considered here by the author in the context of neoliberalism, though relatively applicable to different developmental stages of the capitalist social system*? You sell it to them, especially based upon the principle, attributed to P.T. Barnum, that “there’s a sucker born every minute,” and in a social system governed by lies (aka advertising, propaganda) it’s ‘buyer beware’ making it impossible to keep up with every sleight of hand within an empire of deceit, using market means to advance the goal of the market uber alles.

    So as noted above neoliberalism was sold as “manufacture of consent” among the “bewildered herd” (Walter Lippmann) in utopian terms, promising progress and a better world (as in previous periods of capitalism reinventing itself) once the market was unleashed in all its libertarian glory and government ‘got off our backs’ – meaning Keynesian models of social welfare, for us, being dismantled, while building a more fascist corporate state, for them, to protect ruling class interests.

    The cover stories for this latest round of capitalist accumulation for the elite few via dispossession of the many has been unraveling from its inception, but finally began to gain more attention as crises and collapse accumulated, particularly within advanced (de-)industrialized societies linked to digital revolutions in globalization and governance by debt, and influential middle and upper class interests were adversely affected and threatened on a wider scale.

    So it’s no great surprise, for those who are paying attention, that imminent collapse in 2019 was averted by means of a new big sell, a new deal, that of the Great Reset, moving planning centers of power from Mount Pelerin Society and Chicago School settings to Davos’ World Economic Forum and the UN with Agenda 21/2030. And like many marketing campaigns, it’s been a hard sell, imposed via a convenient cover crisis of a p(l)andemic instituting the beginnings of a biosecurity state which will march us into a dystopian new world order rooted in digital slavery of a techno-feudal totalitarian sort, which by brutal contrast will make neoliberalist insanity seem another lost golden era of capitalism like the fabled welfare state it laid to rest.

    How do you get people to buy into a “boot stamping on a human face, forever” (Orwell)? Dress dystopia in the usual utopian glitter of ‘equity,’ ‘sustainability,’ a ‘green’ new deal and a 4th industrial revolution which will usher in a futuristic golden era of ‘stakeholder capitalism’ exercising its ‘humanitarian’ care of the commons (completely under capitalist control) through ‘public-private partnerships’ for ‘socially responsible’ investment bonds, and so on, and on.

    Unfortunately for us commoners, if we fall for the the sales pitches this time, there looks to be no turning back from marching over a cliff into a bottomless abyss of human alienation in which biodigital mutants, like virtually all others on the planet by now, will have been genetically modified and patented and owned, no longer as chattel or wage slaves, but as no more than mere extensions of a maddening machine world that’s been colonizing us for generations, until generations no longer exist for products of test tubes and nanotech. What more hellish conclusion of final solution in our long captivity to the madness of civilization may be found?

    * “…To allow the market mechanism to be sole director of the fate of human beings and their natural environment, indeed, even of the amount and use of purchasing power, would result in the demolition of society. For the alleged commodity, “labor power” cannot be shoved about, used indiscriminately, or even left unused, without affecting the human individual who happens to be the bearer of this peculiar commodity. In disposing of a man’s labor power the system would, incidentally, dispose of the physical, psychological, and moral entity of “man” attached to the tag. Robbed of the protective covering of cultural institutions, human beings would perish from the the effects of social exposure; they would die as the victims of acute social dislocation through vice, perversion, crime, and starvation. Nature would be reduced to its elements, neighborhoods and landscapes defiled, rovers polluted, military safety jeopardized, the power to produce food and raw materials destroyed…” (Karl Polanyi)

  7. This article offers excellent insight. I am especially enlightened by the paragraphs on competition. In a zero sum economy, winners mean losers. When a small percentage of people own most of the wealth in an economy, then many more losers than winner.
    Of course, winning monetarily does not mean improved fulfillment of life.

    There can be a place for competition in fueling innovation, productivity, efficiency in resource and labor, and incentive. As long as overall society is lifted up.

  8. Lest we forget our own type of Nazis. Let’s hope Russia cleans UkiNazi Ukraine…

    Following the crash of 1873, by July 1877 America was still deep in the depression. The previous year the total revenues of America’s railroads fell by $5.8 million. But they still raised profits to $186 million and managed to present shareholders with 10% dividends.

    As Philip S. Foner noted in “The Great Labor Uprising Of 1877”, the railroads reduced workers’ pay by an average of 21%-37%. The Baltimore & Ohio reduced its staff’s pay by 50%.

    Working people had to strike to provide for their families. They could no longer endure the misery. The Great Railroad Strike began on July 13 at Martinsburg, West Virginia and the strike quickly spread across many parts of the United States, at times taking on the appearance of an insurrection. There were widespread attacks on rail company property. In St Louis workers committees and general assemblies began running things and gender and color differences were put aside. The strikes went beyond the grievances held by the railroad workers and grew into a campaign for the Eight-Hour-Day. 1877 was also the year that the army was withdrawn from the ex-Confederate states, leaving the Ku Klux Klan to terrorize the former slaves and impose the Jim Crow regime. Instead, the military was sent to put down the workers’ strikes.

  9. an extraordinarily shallow anti-intellectual essay—american values, thinking, cultural peculiarities entirely ignored—this crude economic determinism despised by all Marxists, Durkheim, etc misses every important complexity.

  10. Covering a lot of ground, and good on you, and you will indeed get know-it-all-do-nothing commentators here.

    Yes, Capitalism as Inflammatory Disease. Weathering is specific to African American men. The entire system is predicated on the lords of poverty, fines, taxation, corporate welfare, penalties, tickets, violations, fees, late charges, etc. This is a country wrapped around that old Continuing Criminal Enterprise. And it is a flim-flam of propagandists, agnotologists, deep and shallow state. Who is at the table, that is, who gets to get into the seats of power? Right, not the majority.

    But, alas, the systems need to go the way of the Dodo. And, this George Simmel, man, can’t wait to read his essay .. . I won’t hold my breath.

    Wolff and Hudson, for more:

    https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/28/watch-cn-live-ukraine-the-economic-fallout/

    1. Free market capitalism is incomplete and work in progress. This should be looked upon as a rather rudimentary statement on the basis that an economy is and always has been a real-time event. This is self evident and requires no debate.

      Without the technical ability, to measure and compare prices in real-time for the sake of making debt-free market transactions with dynamic market balancing , there is no congruence with our economic reality. Real-time , debt-free transactions are only just beginning and have not yet proliferated throughout society as a matter of mass adoption. These consumer driven transactions have begun, however.

      We still have work to do. Don’t give up. The road to Providence is long.

  11. Good stuff over at Black Agenda Report:

    https://www.blackagendareport.com/document-act-abolition-slavery-and-compensating-white-slaveowners-1833

    The recent visit of members of the British “royal family” to Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas drew attention to longstanding issues and unsettled accounts concerning slavery, colonialism, and independence in the Caribbean.

    Just last week a white couple, William and Kate, went on a Caribbean cruise. Smiling, carefree people, they were surprised by the intense hostility and the relentless contempt they received from the dark-skinned natives. William, not incidentally, is the grandson of a woman named Elizabeth. Elizabeth has claimed – and for many years, few disputed the claim – that her full name is “Elizabeth II, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.” Her “realms and territories” include the Caribbean countries of Belize, Jamaica, and the Bahamas. William and Kate (whom some call the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) had traveled to the Caribbean to celebrate the seventy-year anniversary of Elizabeth’s reign over these realms and territories, and to ensure that by the time he, William, inherits his grandmother’s royal mantle something still remains of his family’s name, and their empire. However, if William and Kate’s trip to the Caribbean was a portend of things to come, there won’t be much of a territorial inheritance.

    In Belize, William and Kate were met with protests when it was learned that contested indigenous lands were being used as a landing pad for their helicopter. In the Bahamas, where they stayed in a £19,000 per night penthouse suite , their arrival was greeted with a statement from the Bahamian National Reparations Committee calling for “a full and formal apology for their crimes against humanity.” In Jamaica, they had an icy reception with the Prime Minister, who told them that Jamaica would be “moving on” from the monarchy and would follow the lead of Barbados and become a republic. One royal arse-licker complained that the Jamaicans were “extremely rude ” to the white couple and, indeed, protestors, demanding apologies and reparations for slavery and insisting that the ties to colonialism and imperialism be severed once and for all, appeared at every turn. The circulation of a throwback picture of the couple in full royal regalia parading in an open-top Land Rover did not help the monarchical cause. Nor did an image of William and Kate greeting Jamaican children who were squeezed up behind a chain link fence . To add to the PR disaster, a member of the royal paparazzi tweeted a photo of the couple with the caption “A couple of crackers here .”Apparently he did not know the derisive meaning of the term “cracker.” The tweet rapidly went viral.

    When asked about the protests, Ras Iyah V of the Rastafari Coral Gardens Benevolent Society stated that the British royal family “owe us millions and billions and trillions of dollars for the exploitation and enslavement and colonisation of the ancestors for over 400 years.” Ras Iyah was on point. When slavery was officially abolished in Jamaica and other British territories the enslaved received no compensation.

    In fact, the full title of the Abolition Act of 1833, the law granting emancipation beginning on August, 1, 1834, is: “An Act for the Abolition of Slavery throughout the British Colonies; for promoting the Industry of the manumitted Slaves; and for compensating the Persons hitherto entitled to the Services of such Slaves.” Two points are significant about the title. First, the promotion of “the Industry of the manumitted Slaves” was in fact a strategy to effectively continue the practice of slavery through a period of “apprenticeship” by which formerly enslaved Africans continued to be bonded to their white overseers. Second, in plain English, the phrase “compensating the Persons hitherto entitled to the Services of such Slaves” meant that slave owners would be paid for the loss of their slaves.

    In short, the slave owners, not the enslaved, received reparations for slavery. According to the Abolition Act, slave owners were to recieve £20 million – the equivalent of about £300bn today – to compensate for the loss of their property. Borrowing the money from the Rotshchild banking syndicate, the British government issued £15 million in cash payments to about 47,000 recipients who filed claims for losing the property. The other £5 million was issued in government bonds that, beginning in 1835, paid out a yearly dividend. According to a now-deleted tweet from the British treasury, “The amount of money borrowed for the Slavery Abolition Act was so large that it wasn’t paid off until 2015.” That is, British taxpayers paid the price of reparations to slaveholders for almost two centuries after emancipation. At the same time, for almost two centuries after emancipation, the descendants of slave-owners received an annuity, paid by the British taxpayer, for the end of slavery – until 2015! Meanwhile, the enslaved received nothing but contempt from England and PR visits from the royal family.

    The entire text of the Abolition Act is reprinted below with some of its more important sections highlighted. It is long, and written in the convoluted legalese of the nineteenth century. But it is a foundational document for understanding what Elizabeth, William, Kate, and the rest of Britain and the monarchy owe to Black people.

  12. In hunting & gathering days and into the days when we started doing some agriculture and animal husbandry, and especially before we started to rely primarily on grain ag (See Scott’s “Against the Grain”), resources were not so easily hordable-controllable and resource allocation was very egalitarian. In today’s world, still dependent mostly on grains for food and with the addition of exosomatic energy powered machines (industrial revolution enabled by the ag revolution before it, and subsequent IRs enabled by that and IR1 and so on) it is virtually impossible to prevent resource allocation inequalities/ excessive wealth-power gaps. This is a matter of our nature and our technology. So, even though we can see, based on the science of biopsychology (best ref Sapolsky’s “Behave”) that our current system is making us ill, and we know that the rational response to this is to seek a reprogramming of our nature and the establishment of new rules to prevent excessive wealth-power gaps, we cannot get it done…We cannot change our nature and we are trapped in a world where our lives depend on our technology paradigm.

    We are in a sort of chicken-egg dilemma…if we could change our technology base so that it’s no longer amenable to wealth-power gap development we might change our nature too, at least for a while, via epigenetic evolution, but we’d always be prone to return to the problem of excessive SES gaps if technological conditions permit it. It doesn’t seem possible that we can change our nature without being forced by external constraints.

    It seems to me then that the system must run its course, self-destruct, and that only then, for a brief time, if we are no longer able to have technologies that enable excessive wealth-power gaps to develop, might we be able to evolve a society like the Tikopians and a few other remnant “primitive” (tech&resource paradigm limited) societies. Meanwhile, what’s going to happen if we are successful in getting beyond our current fossil-non-closed-loop energy and materials input dependent system to a new paradigm which allows us to maintain grain ag or some sort of elite-controllable food production tech, and techno-industrial economics? We will continue to be plagued by stresses described in this great article, and what’s more, we have entered a whole new realm of possible undesirable outcomes…the totalitarian globalist state run by a corrupt oligarchy transitioning into a transhuman borgdom with technocracy run by AI and police/military robots, or even to outright extinction by some unforeseen side effect of tech “progress”, even something like a “Terminator” scenario, but maybe one that’s more gradual-creeping normalcy. Perhaps then our best fate as a species lies in the collapse of modernity, a failure to make the transition to a next tech & resource paradigm, but such failure would also mean the loss of the majority of our population, and we are going to do all we can not to fail, even if success may mean our failure as a species.

    Dilemma, dilemmas…

  13. So neoliberals played the long game, did they, and succeeded. And we, the cogs in their machine construct, should do the same.
    One hundred and fifty years ago, the commons was already enclosed by the powers that were, back then.
    Their start was not from an even playing field.
    The author states the beautiful remedies, without any suggestions as to how to go about their actual implementation.
    The CEO of Russia was asking the hegemon, for at least thirty years, to change its business practices; to no avail.
    Was this, playing the long game, not long enough?
    When did unilateral power ever agree to share its power without a fight to the death?
    We, the spokes in their wheel, on all sides, are now the fodder in their cannon.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: