1. Lisa Wilson
  2. Society
  3. Friday, 07 February 2020
It's important that we start using these forums, so I thought I'd jump in the deep end! ;)


Noam Chomsky says Neoliberalism is a terrible idea. I agree.

Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan introduced us to neoliberalism – the idea that free trade, deregulation, privatisation, reductions in government spending, and never-ending growth would create a better and more prosperous World. But it was all a BIG con! Today, the all-too-inevitable result of the ensuing global economic plunder by big business is unprecedented environmental destruction and ever widening income inequality.

If you accept that neoliberalism is the root cause of most of our biggest problems, how do we get rid of it?

And if you don't accept this premise, why not?
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Hi Lisa

I have to agree with you. We are rapidly destroying the ecosystems that sustain life on Earth, so clearly the current approach isn't working. We desperately need governments to step-in and require businesses to become more sustainable. We also need them to pass legislation requiring the timely phase-out of destructive industries like fossil fuels, the creations of more nature reserves, plus a wide range of other environmental and social policies.

But unfortunately, Neoliberalism is all about deregulation, exploiting natural resources, and protecting corporations. So YES, we definitely need a better system. I think the Green New Deal being advocated by progressive Democrats in the United States is a good example of a pathway towards something more sustainable. Interestingly, the Green New Deal includes environmental AND social goals which I think is important because they're interlinked. The proposals currently lack detail, but I think what I have read so far is a good start.

Finally, I think that it's important to have protest movements like Schools Strike for the climate and Extinction Rebellion to put pressure on governments, keep sustainability issues in the news, and inspire support from the community. The more people get involved with these protest movements, the more likely we are to be able to sway the opinion of politicians.
  1. more than a month ago
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FYI, I have moved this post to "Society / Sustainable Government".
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
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A very thought-provoking post, Lisa. Have you heard of or read Charles Eisenstein's Sacred Economics? It provides a few viable alternatives to neo-liberalism.
"Sacred Economics traces the history of money from ancient gift economies to modern capitalism, revealing how the money system has contributed to alienation, competition, and scarcity, destroyed community, and necessitated endless growth. Today, these trends have reached their extreme—but in the wake of their collapse, we may find great opportunity to transition to a more connected, ecological, and sustainable way of being. This book is about how the money system will have to change—and is already changing—to embody this transition. A broadly integrated synthesis of theory, policy, and practice, Sacred Economics explores avant-garde concepts of the New Economics, including negative-interest currencies, local currencies, resource-based economics, gift economies, and the restoration of the commons."
References
  1. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1583943978/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=theascentofhu-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=1583943978
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Henno Kotze, if we're going to solve this, and other problems, I think that it's very important too be willing to think "outside the box". I have heard of this book, but I have not read it. Looks like I have another title for my reading list! :D
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Lisa Wilson, I've been ranting against neoliberalism since even before I knew the term. It's insane to have corporations, whose primary goal is profits, having so much control over government policies. It's gotten to the point where corporate lobbyists are arguably the most powerful political force in many countries.

So what's the solution? Well, I'm definitely not a fan of Marxism, it was tried repeatedly and didn't work. I believe private ownership and competition are necessary features of an economy because they motivate people and reward efficiency. However, governments need to regulate businesses to ensure that they're operating in an environmentally and socially responsible fashion. I also think that it's desirable for governments to own and operate essential services such as health, education, and public transport, where the goals of private enterprise are often in conflict with the best interests of the community. I believe everyone should have access to efficient and affordable essential services and for that to happen you usually need government ownership. If private enterprise wants to provide additional services, that's fine too.

I agree with James Miller that the Green New Deal is a very encouraging proposal. Another good idea is the Stakeholder Capitalism movement which seems to be gaining traction. Finally, I agree with James about the need for activism.
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
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Hi Adam Thyer and others

I set up Promoting Economic Pluralism to build awareness of the range of different ways of thinking about the economy. I don't think we can think outside the box of the current economic system unless we understand other ways of thinking about the economy and there are a lot of them: institutional, complexity, behavioural, feminist, austrian economics and more. The problem is that we have a dominant economic 'common sense' which we need to open up.

This year we are launching a new initiative with educators and employers with the proposition that a key leadership capability. needs to be the ability to think outside the current economic system box. See attached. Thoughts welcomed.

cheers
Henry
Attachments (1)
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Worth checking out this major 2020 survey. 56% believe capitalism is doing more harm than good.
References
  1. https://www.edelman.com/trustbarometer
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Henry Leveson-Gower - I read your document. What a fantastic initiative!

How far advanced are you? And what has the reception been like so far?
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
  1. more than a month ago
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Hi Adam Thyer, great you like it. This initiative is at its early stages with so far a pretty positive response. First major meeting is on 30th March. You can see in the document the collaborators etc. Key milestone is COP26...
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if you Adam Thyer could bring others on board that would be great. Maybe we could discuss over Zoom.
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Henry Leveson-Gower - You might want to consider creating a blog post about your project and why it's necessary - to publish here on GreenExecutive. I'd be happy to promote the post to my social media followers who include a lot of educators and economists.
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
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Thanks. I will do.
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Now, with COVID-19, there are massive lobbying campaigns underway in support of bailing out fossil fuel companies, airlines, cruise lines, and companies that don't have enough cash because they spent it all buying back their own shares. In other words, they are talking about giving billions of dollars of tax payer money to some of the world's most unsustainable businesses. We must do whatever we can to prevent this from happening.

Over the coming months and years, an enormous amount of money is going to be spent attempting to recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic. The responsible thing would be to ensure that this money is spent in a way that promotes a transition to a green economy. In the EU, some countries are lobbying for a green coronavirus recovery. Hopefully, they'll be successful. But even if they are, how many non EU countries are likely to make a similar commitment?

I think this is a good example of where the green movement should be working collaboratively to ensure that governments do not squander this opportunity to rebuild the system into something more fair, resilient and sustainable.
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Ben Bailey, I agree with you.

I think the COVID-19 stimulus money could be an enormous opportunity for the sustainability movement. However, it could also be a total disaster. If we can persuade governments to spend this money on creating a green economy, it will dramatically accelerate progress towards CO2 reduction and sustainability/regeneration. However, if the money is spent propping-up fossil fuel companies, airlines, the plastics industry, and so on, it will prolong the reign of the big polluters and dramatically reduce the availability of government funding for future green R&D and infrastructure.
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The system is undoubtedly the cause of our biggest environmental and social problems and most current political/economic systems are based to varying degrees on neoliberalism.
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