The impact of neoliberalism on labour market freedom in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela

All was quiet on the neoliberalism front in Latin America for the last 20 years. In yet another defeat for the Mont Pelerin Society led transnational conspiracy, labour market freedom has declined in the four countries in figure 1. I’ve always had my doubts about the ability of a transnational conspiracy to be led by a society with such a crappy website.

Figure 1: Index of Economic Freedom, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela, 95 – 2015

image

Source: Index of Economic Freedom 2015.

The impact of neoliberalism on economic freedom in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela since 1995

All was quiet on the neoliberalism front in Latin America for the last 20 years. In yet another defeat for the Mont Pelerin Society led transnational conspiracy, economic freedom has been pretty stable in Chile for 20 years and in the serious decline in Venezuela and Argentina – see figure 1. Not much happening in Brazil either on the neoliberalism front – see figure 1. I’ve always had my doubts about the ability of a transnational conspiracy to be led by a society with such a crappy website.

Figure 1: Index of Economic Freedom, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Venezuela, 95 – 2015

image

Source: Index of Economic Freedom 2015.

Apparently, this is how the Mont Pelerin Society rules the roost!?

Solid lines refer to funding and dashed lines refer to mostly ideological connections

HT:  old-rothschild-and-rockefeller-hands-controlled-the-libertarian-communist-dialectic/

How much of the political spectrum is neoliberal (and under the Svengali influence of the @MontPelerinSoc)?

When I feud with strangers on other blogs about neoliberalism, I often asked them is to nominate which parties are neoliberal. Obviously the right-wing parties are neoliberal.

What is routine, however, is for this remnant of the Left over Left to nominate the Labour Party as a cauldron of neoliberalism as well. Tony Blair, Bob Hawke, and Paul Keating are hate figures as is Roger Douglas in New Zealand.

Neoliberalism is more about smearing labour parties than the right-wing parties, and, in particular, factional enemies further to the right with you on the old Left. Looks like to be a neoliberal is what it was like to be a capitalist running dog in the days of the cultural revolution.

These days it’s quite common to nominate the Mont Pelerin Society as the global ringmaster of neoliberalism.

bookjacketCover: The Road from Mont Pèlerin in HARDCOVER

As global ringmasters go, they have a crap website. The super profits of supreme power should at least extend to a decent website.

Eric Crampton was tweeting live from his first meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society a few weeks ago. I asked him how did it feel to be in the inner circles of supreme power. His tweet was they must hold all the conspiratorial meetings in side rooms because he did not feel any more powerful than the previous day at his desk at his University

No one had ever heard of the Mont Pelerin society until the Twitter Left put it at the centre of a global conspiracy.

It is much easier to do to explain your defeat at elections on a conspiracy, rather than on your ideas having been tried and failed time and again.

These allegations  of a secret conspiracy led by the Mont Pelerin society is a rarity in the stock and fair of conspiracy theories. The leader of the conspiracy is actually unknown. Most conspiracy theories allege that the secret machinations are by relatively well-known people you are trying to smear or don’t like.

These allegations of a global conspiracy led by academics is the ultimate ego trip by proxy. Academics dream of supreme power. When they do not have this power themselves, they fantasise that the right-wingers at the other end of the corridor at their university have it instead.

The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive.  - Thomas Sowell

Fact check: conspiracy theories aren’t just for conservatives

Respondents were asked whether they agreed with four statements:

  • “Much of our lives are being controlled by plots hatched in secret places,”
  • “Even though we live in a democracy, a few people will always run things anyway,”
  • “The people who really ‘run’ the country are not known to the voters.”
  • “Big events like wars, the current recession, and the outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people who are working in secret against the rest of us.”

Source: monkey cage

American conservatives distrust science in part because they identify it with the regulatory state. When science means nuclear weapons, innovation and winning the space race, conservatives love it.  When they associate science with the EPA, regulation, and global institutions, they hate it.

Just as climate science is unpalatable for the Right, the Left is uncomfortable with, for example, genetic modification and nuclear power. Research into risks and benefits of these technologies are met with suspicion by the Left.

I find it bizarre the right wing politics is considered more conspiratorial than the left wing – a left-wing that is currently obsessed with the comings and goings of the top 1%.

A gentleman by the name of Karl Marx had a conspiracy theory of history, that the bosses were conspiring against the workers, there is a ruling class pulling the strings from behind the scenes, and there is an inherent inequality of bargaining power between workers and employers because the bosses plot to keep wages down.

It should be mentioned in this connection that Karl Marx himself was one of the first to emphasize the importance, for the social sciences, of these unintended consequences.

In his more mature utterances, he says that we are all caught in the net of the social system. The capitalist is not a demoniac conspirator, but a man who is forced by circumstances to act as he does; he is no more responsible for the state of affairs than is the proletarian.

This view of Marx’s has been abandoned – perhaps for propagandist reasons, perhaps because people did not understand it – and a Vulgar Marxist Conspiracy theory has very largely replaced it. It is a come-down – the come-down from Marx to Goebbels.

But it is clear that the adoption of the conspiracy theory can hardly be avoided by those who believe that they know how to make heaven on earth. The only explanation for their failure to produce this heaven is the malevolence of the devil who has a vested interest in hell.

Karl Popper

Don’t let me start on how the Left over Left goes on about neoliberal conspiracy with Hayek and Friedman ruling the roost through the truly obscure Mont Pelerin Society.

bookjacketCover: The Road from Mont Pèlerin in HARDCOVER

The IMF, World Trade Organisation and trade negotiations are riddled with conspiracies if I am to believe my friends in the  Left over Left.

Mention multinational corporations to a member of the Left of good standing and conspiracy theories pour fourth.

It would be unfair to bring up GMOs to remind the left of how anti-science it is. Don’t kick people when they’re down. The whole point of the precautionary principle is to allow the Left to reject good science.

At bottom, what call the barricades works if it’s not sexed-up with a conspiracy theory?

Some on the Left believe the @MontPelerinSoc is the ringmaster of a vast neo-liberal conspiracy

bookjacket Cover: The Road from Mont Pèlerin in HARDCOVER

Few had even heard of the Mont Pelerin Society until the late 1990s and the internet age. The ringmaster of the neoliberal conspiracy still has a very ordinary looking webpage.

Lead conspirator Hayek was so little known at his death in 1992 that finding extensive obituaries of him in newspapers is hard. Some may be behind pay walls. Of those that were found, they weren’t very long and forgot to mention Hayek as the leader of a global cabal that rule the waves  :

When Keynesian thought prevailed and his reputation went into eclipse, Mr. Hayek turned to philosophy and psychology, which he first taught at the University of Chicago, where he wrote what many consider to be a second masterpiece, “The Constitution of Liberty “.

His son’s obituaries in 2006 were longer and more fulsome than his father’s mostly on the back of who his now famous father were:

Lawrence Hayek escaped from the formidable shadow of his father, the great economist-philosopher, Professor F. A. Hayek, into high-level medical research within the NHS, only to spend much of his final decade responding to the worldwide interest in the scholar many regard — along with Milton Friedman — as the father of Thatcherism.

Hayek, the Mont Pelerin Society’s and neoliberal conspiracy’s alleged linchpin wasn’t even able to get a job in the University of Chicago economics department. Along with Mises, their salaries were paid by a private foundation. Neither could get paid university appointments in the United States. Hayek was Keynes’s principal critic in the 1930s, and upon Keynes’s death in 1946, the most famous economist in the world at that time.

Despite being a colony of the vast neo-liberal conspiracy, mentioning Milton Friedman’s name in the 1980s at job interviews in Canberra would have been extremely career limiting. Not much better in the early 1990s.

  • Back in the 1980s, the much less radical Milton Friedman was just graduating from being ‘a wild man in the wings’ to just a suspicious character in policy circles.
  • If you name dropped Hayek in the 1980s and 1990s, any sign of name recognition would have indicated that you were been interviewed by educated people.

How times has changed. The reasons are well summarised by Bruce Caldwell:

But how important were [members of the Mont Pèlerin Society] in the emerging global consensus that began in the 1980s in favour of trade liberalization and privatization?

Were not, for example, the dismal performance of Keynesian demand management policies in the United States, Britain, and elsewhere in the 1970s; the heavy-handed actions of the trade unions in Britain during the “Winter of Discontent”; the sclerotic performance of countries like India who had embraced a modified version of the planning model for their own; and, of course, the patent economic and political failures of the East Bloc, far more important in turning the tide, however briefly, towards globalization?

Was not George Stigler (himself a founding member of the Society) right in his comment about economists that “our influence appears to be powerful only when we support policies ripe for adoption” (Stigler 1987, p. 11)?

see Daniel Stedman Jones (2012). Masters of the Universe: Hayek, Friedman, and the Birth of Neoliberal Politics and P. Mirowski and D. Plehwe, eds. (2009), The Road from Mont Pelerin: The Making of the Neoliberal Thought Collective for the handbook on the cabal leading the vast right-wing conspiracy. For example,

The Road from Mont Pèlerin presents the key debates and conflicts that occurred among neoliberal scholars and their political and corporate allies regarding trade unions, development economics, antitrust policies, and the influence of philanthropy. The book captures the depth and complexity of the neoliberal “thought collective” while examining the numerous ways that neoliberal discourse has come to shape the global economy.

Masters of the Universe traces the ascendancy of neoliberalism from the academy of interwar Europe to supremacy under Reagan and Thatcher and in the decades since. Daniel Stedman Jones argues that there was nothing inevitable about the victory of free-market politics. Far from being the story of the simple triumph of right-wing ideas, the neoliberal breakthrough was contingent on the economic crises of the 1970s and the acceptance of the need for new policies by the political left.

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