The Resistance

* Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve. — We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances. — Never mind structural unemployment: if you don’t have a job it’s because you are unenterprising. Never mind the impossible costs of housing: if your credit card is maxed out, you’re feckless and improvident. Never mind that your children no longer have a school playing field: if they get fat, it’s your fault. In a world governed by competition, those who fall behind become defined and self-defined as losers. — Among the results, as Paul Verhaeghe documents in his book What About Me? are epidemics of self-harm, eating disorders, depression, loneliness, performance anxiety and social phobia. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that Britain, in which neoliberal ideology has been most rigorously applied, is the loneliness capital of Europe. We are all neoliberals now.


* Peter Thiel on why democracy and freedom don’t mix

For Thiel, getting “beyond politics” involves turning to (1) Cyberspace, (2) Outer Space, and (3) Seasteading. These are three arenas in which a libertarian politics might be possible. But real libertarian change will never occur in our ossifying “capitalist” democracies. Democracy and liberty simply do not mix. — If not for Thiel’s comments about democracy — and, specifically, the extension of the franchise to women — it is unlikely his essay would even have been read outside the libertarian community. That’s not a knock on the essay itself, but just an observation about the way both liberals and conservatives typically ignore libertarian ideas. — Well, at least the left is reading and responding. The folks at Gawker shamelessly misrepresent Thiel’s claims: “Facebook Backer Wishes Women Couldn’t Vote”, the headline reads. At Salon, Michael Lind proposes an idea: “..Thiel could use his leverage as a donor to combine the Seasteading Institute with the Methuselah Foundation and create a make-believe island where girls aren’t allowed to vote and where nobody ever has to grow up. Call it Neverland. It would be easy for libertarian refugees from the United States and the occasional neo-Confederate to find it…” — As should probably be expected, feminist bloggers are responding the most harshly. According to Amanda Marcotte, the sloppy thinker and rejected “chief blogger” for John Edwards presidential campaign, Thiel is a “complete wackaloon and apparently a misogynist besides. Which is to say, he’s a libertarian.” — Like the Gawker folks, Marcotte claims that Thiel “pretty openly states that he’d like to disenfranchise women and ‘welfare’ recipients, which I guess is a way of saying that voting is only acceptable if the franchise is limited to the landed gentry.”


* Welcome to the Recovery – Poultry Workers Claim They’re Denied Bathroom Breaks and Wear Diapers on the Job

Workers in plants run by the largest U.S. poultry producers are regularly being denied bathroom breaks and as a result some are reduced to wearing diapers while working on the processing line, Oxfam America said in a report Wednesday. “It’s not just their dignity that suffers: they are in danger of serious health problems,” said Oxfam America, the U.S. arm of the U.K.-based global development group. The group works for a “just world without poverty” and focuses on topics ranging from refugees in Greece to malnutrition. The report cited unnamed workers from Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Perdue Farms Inc. and Sanderson Farms Inc. who said that supervisors mock them, ignore requests and threaten punishment or firing. When they can go, they wait in long lines even though they are given limited time, sometimes 10 minutes, according to the report. Some workers have urinated or defecated themselves while working because they can’t hold on any longer, the report said. Some workers “restrict intake of liquids and fluids to dangerous degrees,” Oxfam said. The conditions present difficulties, especially for menstruating or pregnant women, according to the latest report. Workers could also face medical problems, including urinary tract infections, and managers have told some workers to eat and drink less to avoid going to the bathroom, according to the report.