Neoliberalism and Real Socialism

It’s often said that socialism is the arduous path from capitalism back to capitalism, but Blood and Treasure suggests that neoliberalism is the arduous path toward Eastern bloc-style “real socialism.” His focus is on “urban renewal” projects in London, but one can make a similar case for the mantras of deficit-cutting and “education reform” in the U.S.

Eastern bloc socialism had to keep going through the 1970s and 80s, inspite of lagging growth and failed ideological hegemony, because nobody knew what else to do. This is the stage neoliberal policy-making has now reached. The difference is that there is still one area of our economy that is still moving and changing, namely the money economy, with corporate profits high and financial innovation ongoing. What seems to have changed, post-2008, is that the price paid for this monetary dynamism is that the rest of us all have to stand completely still. In order that ‘they’ in the banks can cling on to their modernity of liquidity and ultra-fast turnover, ‘we’ outside have to relinquish our modernity, of a future that is any different from the present. Finance is to our sorry stagnanat societies what the space race and the Cold War were to the Eastern Bloc countries of the 1970s and 80s, the cost that we are offered no choice but to carry collectively, with the result that our cities and economies start to become tedious processions of the same.

The whole piece is well worth reading.

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4 Responses to “Neoliberalism and Real Socialism”

  1. Rex Styzens Says:

    Thanks for sharing the article. It makes me think of my 1955 Humanities II field trip at Shimer to the Chicago solution for housing the homeless and underprivileged. We visited whole blocks of buildings where new individual 1-bedroom or larger apartments were made available and subsidized. Chicago contractors and builders made small fortunes in the process.
    Today those buildings have been demolished. They became places for crime and violence to congregate. The people in them knew they were less than equal. They were simply warehoused—out of sight and out of mind. Chicago, I understand, still has public housing.
    I do not know what the design ideals were for the Westfield area in the article. Nor do I know of a successful solution to population growth as land becomes scarce. In southern California, the decay of urban areas continues and is today joined by decay in the suburbs as well. I am not aware of housing proposals that promise a more hopeful solution. Even the bums in the bushes have a problem, because former abandoned areas are now full of (empty but constructed) housing.
    Builders can make more money selling luxury homes, and Americans still believe that not only is your home your castle, they should also be as great as a castle. The Rockefeller brothers took on the task of designing a federal program for private housing. A few years later, they admitted defeat. So far as I am aware, no one has picked up that challenge. Today it is incredible.

  2. Adam Kotsko Says:

    The curriculum must have been differently structured back then — was the purpose of the trip to observe the architecture?

  3. Josh Says:

    In Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Fredric Jameson pointed out that neoliberalism and Marxist socialism are the same.

  4. Josh Says:

    This is the same as Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of anti-production which Lazzarato writes about in The Making Of The Indebted Man.


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