So what has neoliberalism ever done for us, eh?

Or more importantly, what has neoliberalism ever done for the poor?

It identifies \”star performer\” nations such as Rwanda, Nepal and Bangladesh as places where deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations. Close on their heels with reductions in poverty levels were Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia and Bolivia.

The study comes after the UN\’s latest development report published last week which stated that poverty reduction drives in the developing world were exceeding all expectations. It says: \”The world is witnessing a epochal \’global rebalancing\’ with higher growth in at least 40 poor countries helping lift hundreds of millions out of poverty and into a new \’global middle class\’. Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.\”

As you know (for you are all avid Ritchie, TJN, Action Air, War on Want, Oxfam and the rest readers) everything that has been happening in recent decades in the world is a result of neoliberalism. You know, those absolute bastards like me who suggest that the Washington Consensus isn\’t that bad, that trade works, that the only thing worse than being exploited by multinational corporates is not being exploited by multinational corporates.

And we\’re told, endlessly, that we\’re evil for having promoted this sort of exploitation.

And yet, and yet, the really remarkable thing about this neoliberalism, this exploitation, is how damn pro-poor it is.

Yup, sure, the top 1% have got even more one percentier. You\’ll just have to forgive me if I don\’t give a fuck given that the much larger effect of all this is that hundreds of millions, billions, have at the same time, as a result of the same policies, risen up out of destitution into those petit bourgeois pleasures of a change of clothes, a roof over their heads and three squares a day.

After all, that is what all of us liberals have been trying to do for these past decades isn\’t it? Make the poor rich?

6 thoughts on “So what has neoliberalism ever done for us, eh?”

  1. Absolutely agree with #1 Rob- The critique will switch to issues of inequality , environmental impact, loss of traditional culture,etc,etc as nauseam. What, after all would these guys have if you took away Firsr their sense of moral superiority and their ability to control people? – Not a lot, I’d hazard!

  2. Or perhaps it’s better to be honest and say that us liberals have been accidentally making the poor rich by looking out to get richer ourselves.

  3. Yes, the increase in global trade has been one of the factors driving the reduction in poverty, as the Oxford report says.

    But it’s worth being clear that as it also says, aid and development programmes (remember, the vast majority of aid money goes to specific defined projects that are externally administered: the Cold War model of ‘aid’ that’s a billion-dollar bribe to your preferred dictator no longer applies) have also made a significant difference.

    And speaking of the Cold War, the extent to which everyone in the third world is being bribed to kill everyone else has diminished significantly (Saudi Arabia is the only country that enthusiastically engages in said bribery, and it’s got a lot less scope to fuck things up than the USSR or USA ever had).

    So the increase in income compared to 25 years ago is all three of these things.

    People are more able to sell stuff. They’re more capable of making the stuff to sell because they haven’t gone blind for the lack of a $2 vaccination. And they’re less likely to be prevented from making and selling stuff by being mass-murdered by a gang of child soldiers.

  4. So Much for Subtlety

    john b – “But it-s worth being clear that as it also says, aid and development programmes … have also made a significant difference.”

    It is the Guardian. They have to say that. It does not mean it is true. Especially as they adopt a weaselly form of words:

    The brighter global picture is the result of international and national aid and development projects investing in schools, health clinics, housing, infrastructure and improved access to water.

    They put international and national “aid” into the same category – even though when the State provides water in the UK, we do not call it aid. When they provide schools likewise. So they refuse to factor out what the impact of foreign aid is. What is more, how much of this is cause and effect? Do national governments have more to spend on schools because their economy is doing better, or is their economy doing better because they are spending? The Guardian does not try to determine that either. Naturally.

    “And speaking of the Cold War, the extent to which everyone in the third world is being bribed to kill everyone else has diminished significantly”

    It is true that the collapse of Communism has been a benefit to everyone. They are no longer arming and training terrorists all over the world.

    “So the increase in income compared to 25 years ago is all three of these things.”

    I am sure. But it coincides with the Washington consensus and the domination of the US. Not more or less aid. That suggests that it is trade and the collapse of Communism that matters.

  5. “It is true that the collapse of Communism has been a benefit to everyone. They are no longer arming and training terrorists all over the world.”

    Which also includes the economic terrorists they unleashed on developing economies across Africa.

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