Monthly Archives: July 2008

Demolishing the myths of neoliberalism

How did the great economic powers reach their positions of huge wealth, enormous annual economic output, and high levels of consumption? Of course, as everyone knows, it was by embracing free trade, opening up to foreign direct investment, and minimising government intervention in the economy.

Well, actually, no it wasn’t. This ‘official history of globalisation’ is fiction, a myth far removed from the facts of economic history.

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Filed under David, economic analysis, social justice

What are we getting ourselves into?

The Herald has published an enigmatic portrait of John Key – National Party Leader and person currently looking most likely to be New Zealand’s next Prime Minister. I recommend it – it’s a good read if you’re at all interested in Kiwi politics. And because Key & National are playing their policy cards so close to their chests, we have precious little else to go on in forming an estimation of the man and the likely positions of the Party he leads.

My summary: He comes across as a decent enough bloke, personally, but it seems likely his underlying views are far more right-wing and radical than many voters currently perceive them to be.

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Filed under Aotearoa New Zealand, Barry, economic analysis, sustainability

Military spending, food aid and the strange priorities of the G8 nations

The G8 leaders meeting in Japan have been talking about feeding the poor, as rising prices threaten to drive millions more into poverty and hunger. In their summit statement on global food security, the eight leaders expressed their deep concern, acknowledged the pressures being generated in low income countries by rising world food prices, and called for countries with food stockpiles to release them to assist those in need.

The unfamiliar experience of exercising their caring side seemed to exhaust the G8 leaders, who needed a 19-course banquet to rejuvenate them. Not surprisingly, their self-indulgence was castigated in the news media, which took great delight in itemising the exotic and (for most of us) previously unheard of ingredients in the various delicacies.

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Filed under David, social justice

Food politics: striving for a radical social critique or just looking for a good lunch?

The enormous interest that exists today in food preparation, sophisticated recipes, ethnic cuisine, health food, celebrity chefs, organic produce, café culture, and eating in general has given us the word ‘foodie’ to describe the food-obsessed amateur gourmet. Along with this burgeoning food fascination has come the rise of food politics. This is a very different politics from the disquiet about Third World hunger which seemed so widespread in the 1970s and early 1980s. Today, in the wealthy countries of the world, that concern with justice for others appears to have given way to a concern with the food we ourselves consume.

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Filed under Aotearoa New Zealand, David, green politics

A shock to the ecosystem: Neoliberalism and the environment

In the past 25 years, neoliberalism has become economic orthodoxy. In that time, as James McCarthy and Scott Prudham have written, neoliberalism’s “political and ideological projects have successfully masqueraded as a set of objective, natural, and technocratic truisms” (p.276).

Indeed, so pervasively institutionalised have the values of neoliberalism become that it almost seems a throwback to the 1990s even to write about it critically, at least in the New Zealand context that is most familiar to me. Here, as elsewhere, both the dominant political parties – Labour (nominally social democratic) and National (conservative) – support a neoliberal agenda, and all that it entails, in what amounts to a tacit ‘grand coalition’ in a number of policy areas.

In this article I look at the impact of neoliberalism on the environment through both the roll-back of the state and the roll-out of neoliberal policies, taking some examples from recent New Zealand experience.

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Filed under Aotearoa New Zealand, capitalism, David