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.