Friday, March 03, 2006

Finally... a good article on neoliberalism

Finally... a good op-ed piece about neoliberalism. Not the usual ones full of jargons and finger pointings. I am glad that the author, who as a philosophy professor has the academic authority to say so, points out that the so-called neoliberalism is at best a (false) theoriticization. I think what he means is the concept of neoliberalism that is often heard and raised nowadays.

He uses the word 'ghost.' I agree. Neoliberalism is merely a ghost, because everyones talk about it and see it as something scary, but the true existence is not clear. Many people of course defines neoliberalism as X, Y or Z. But for me, that was like what MUI did a few months ago on pluralism, liberalism and secularism. You assign your own definition on the concept, and you attack that very definition by yourself. Or, if I may be more cynical, is what the New Order did to communism and socialism. You just label anything bad with those terms.

Another points the author raised was about the Washington Consensus. This was also a historical accident. John Williamson, the one that first came up with the term, had never thought that this term will become very popular, in a bad way, and in a different way than its original meaning. Originally, Wash Cons was just a term to illustrate the lowest common denominators among Washington-based policymakers, international organization and academics about what should the U.S. policy towards Latin America in the '80s be. That was all. It was not a document or agenda of a global economc imperialism, as many people tend to view it now. Even that was not really a consensus. The degree of disagreement among the related person was, and is, very large.

The author, however, still agreed that there is such thing as 'market fundamentalism,' which is "nested in the heart of neoliberalism's philosophical theory." I don't disagree with that. But I also agree with him that the rest are just fallacies. It is a fallacy to claim that 'market fundamentalism' is everything in economic theory. It is a fallacy to think that 'market fundamentalism' is the only thing why most economists believe in, and call for, market-oriented solutions.

It is a fallacy to view that 'market fundamentalism' is everything manifested in the current domestic and global economic policies (how can you argue that protection or banning rice import is what the market fundamentalists call for?). Moreover, the biggest fallacy is to draw a causality between neoliberalism and poverty, inequality, marginalization, and so on.

1 comment:

  1. Any ideology, in my opinion, are spectres, until it comes into practice. Neoliberalism is an ideology that has working principles and goals. The danger of an, or any, ideology is that people who just blindly put it into practice disregarding differences such as in the context, background and development levels (in the case of neoliberalism).