The Words of Edward S. Herman in Triumph of the Market
...The neoliberal regime is going to run into serious difficulties that may well terminate its rule. By its aggressive exploitation of immediate opportunities that benefit a small elite, and its vetoing of structural changes and policies serving the bottom 80 percent, the "New World Order"is witnessing a rapid social and economic polarization and a global "marginalization of the people." As several billion people remain mired in poverty in the Third World and hundreds of millions in the West suffer wage and benefit attrition, increased unemployment, and growing insecurity while a small elite thrives, the ground is being laid for upheavals and "crises of democracy" that will make the 1960s pale to insignificance. The gross inequalities are likely to produce slower growth from a deficiency of effective demand along with instability from social pain and outrage. The problems will be exacerbated and the challenges will escalate when ecological/environmental damage takes a further and greater toll on human health and well-being (beyond merely slowing down the rate of growth).


It is obvious that economic growth rates of 2-3 percent per year are not sustainable on this small planet for another 100 years, and that a new regime of values and economic organization and distribution will be necessary for human survival in the long run. The present system of neoliberal growth has no long-term future for this reason, but it may not last even that long because the current process of exploitation and marginalization are rapidly creating serious "contradictions."


It is possible that the ongoing marginalization/polarization processcan continue for quite a few years by a combination of propaganda, selective co-optation and bribery, the preservation of some social services, moderate repression and the absence of any plausible alternatives - witness the Mexican people's passivity up to the time of the localized Chiapas rebellion in the face of large real-income declines, staggering inequality, and massive abuses of state power over many years. But passivity is by no means assured and is unlikely to hold for long in the West where expectations of material advance are strong and the peoples increasingly disrespectful of traditional authority. They are not likely to be bamboozled indefinitely with diversions and scapegoats; they will insist on real gains, and that is what the "New World Order" and neoliberal project serve to prevent.


If the restless multitude gets too demanding we may see increasing resort to more serious repression. But without the Red Menace to justify massive secret police operations, repression may be more difficult than in the past and the objective of "restoring order" may not permit operations adequate to actually restore order. The Russian and Eastern European experience suggests that "moderate" law-and-order regimes confronting mass disaffection might now be threatened with uncontrollable disorder and potential state fragmentation.


It is possible that increasing distress might produce law-and-order regimes with strong leaders who would attempt to discipline capital, impose controls on global capital movements, and try to contain mass unrest by actually redistributing wealth and income and restructuring welfare states. It is also possible that more brutal regimes might emerge to keep the rabble in line by advanced state terror a la Pinochet or Hitler.


It is at least conceivable that the reality of an interdependent global economy might, under conditions of great distress, produce a single global political entity with real powers to deal with high-priority global problems. It is difficult to imagine how this new political order could be democratic in any sense. However, it is possible that it could serve the global Trans-National Corporations and dominant states in the same fashionas national states serve their dominant interests.


A final possibility is that genuine democratic forces might revive or organize under the pressures of neoliberalism and help rehabilitate national, regional, and local politics to serve a popular interest. Admittedly this possibility does not look promising at the moment, but it is the only road to a democratic, or perhaps any, future and there are some very elemental grounds for hopefulness in the longer pull. There are vast numbers of local activists at work trying to organize their communitiesand building networks to others. The rapid changes in communications technologies have opened up space for community and solidarity work, and there is a ferment in local communications as well as in other community actions.


Beyond this, democrats can build from the grassroots with two important bases of hope and confidence: one is that neoliberalism is sureto fail and will generate ever larger global forces of resistance; the second is that the temporarily victorious market order is inhuman, immiserates vast numbers, and is designed to serve a tiny elite, so that not only numbers but justice is on our side. It is for this reason that the great Brazilian Catholic Bishop Pedro Casadaliga belives "we are the defeated soldiers of an unbeatable army."


-The Words of Edward S. Herman
from the epilogue of the book
"Triumph of the Market"
c1995 South End Press
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