Friday, February 6, 2009

The backlash against neoliberalism gains momentum

¡Que se vayan todos! - that's the global backlash talking (h/t Marisacat):
...Perhaps the sturdiest thread connecting this global backlash is a rejection of the logic of "extraordinary politics" - the phrase coined by the Polish politician Leszek Balcerowicz to describe how, in a crisis, politicians can ignore legislative rules and rush through unpopular "reforms". That trick is getting tired, as South Korea's government recently discovered. In December, the ruling party tried to use the crisis to ram through a highly controversial free trade agreement with the US. Taking closed-door politics to new extremes, legislators locked themselves in the chamber so they could vote in private, barricading the door with desks, chairs and couches.

Opposition politicians were having none of it: using sledgehammers and an electric saw, they broke in and staged a 12-day sit-in of parliament. The vote was delayed, allowing for more debate - a victory for a new kind of "extraordinary politics".

The pattern is clear: governments that respond to a crisis created by free-market ideology with an acceleration of that same discredited agenda will not survive to tell the tale. As Italy's students have taken to shouting in the streets: "We won't pay for your crisis!"

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