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Chapter 1 examines three main historical processes that have framed and provoked my interest in questions of competition. First, the classic problem that has come to be known as ‘the rise of the West’. What caused the rise to global power of Western Europe and its settler societies in the last few centuries? I suggest the domestication of competition must be part of the answer. Second, the domestication of competition is associated with the rise of a particular kind of nation state, the currently dominant model of capitalist liberal democracy. Why is this? And third, does what has come to be known as ‘neoliberalism’ have a special role to play in explaining the current state of competition? One often encounters this idea in critical discussions of neoliberalism, but my argument suggests that the pervasive role of competition in modern society has historically deeper roots, whatever its current transformations.
In the Conclusion, I record the rival fates of Giovanni and Giorgio Amendola since 1980, whether in scholarship, public memory or Italian streetscapes. In each regard, the liberal democrat Giovanni Amendola has moved up and the communist Giorgio Amendola down. The (humane) communist world Giorgio believed in has all but totally disappeared. But liberal democracy, however much transmuted by an all but totalitarian neoliberalism, has prospered and, perhaps, triumphed. Certainly, when the centenary of Giovanni’s death occurs in 1926, it is likely that he will be celebrated as a father of his patria. What might be viewed as the historical limitations of his understanding of where the world was going, his all but non-existent commentary on capitalism and finance, his patriarchalism, his positive view of Italian imperialism – these no longer matter. He can take the leading place as his country’s most admirable saint and martyr of Anti-Fascism.
This paper explores the genesis and growth of the current Chinese wireless network infrastructures by pulling together the historical threads of two telecommunications infrastructures: first, the development of the first-tier inter-provincial optical backbone, the “Eight Vertical and Eight Horizontal Fibre-optic Grid,” in the late 1980s and 1990s; and second, the deployment of two broadband-access cellular networks, the third-generation (3G) cellular networks in 2008 and the fourth-generation (4G) networks from 2013 to now, which constitute the wireless network's edges. I insert the development of Chinese wireless networks since the 1980s into the interconnected global technological environment, contextualizing the infrastructure deployment in the history of Sino-American technological cooperation and competition, traversing the final decade of the Cold War era (the 1980s), the dual global expansion of economic neoliberalism and informational technology since the 1990s and the crisis of global capitalism since 2008. This historical inquiry reconciles two historical (meta-)narratives that are not always compatible with each other – the Chinese narratives grounded on the overarching concept of Chinese post-socialism, and the narratives in Western discourses that often evoke Cold War/post-Cold War dialectics. This paper examines the global distribution of wireless network infrastructures on the basis of commercialization, technology transfers and trades of techno-commodities across borders, challenging the reduced depiction of the Chinese wireless network as an extension, or an exception, to the West-centred techno-capitalist system.
In 1977, Roberto Bolaño moved from Mexico City to Paris and eventually to Spain. His works from the beginning of the 80s such as Consejos de un discípulo de Morrison a un fanático de Joyce (with A.G, Porta) and Antwerp, set in Catalonia, and A Little Lumpen Novelita - a story set in Rome -, portray the social crisis at the end of the Spanish Democratic Transition and the so-called Lead Years in Italy. The Costa Brava landscape and the town of Blanes, where he resided from 1985 onwards, would become the settings of The Skating Rink and The Third Reich. The 1992 Barcelona of Distant Star, the 1939 Paris of Monsieur Pain, and other European settings of Woes of the True Policeman and 2666 recreate the dislocations of different lives in exile and the conflicts of those who cross the West’s established borders and logic, transgressing national identitary configuration itself. This chapter will map the complex reflections of Bolaño, an icon of the global writer, on the Spanish and European reality of the end of the 20th and beginnings of the 21st Centuries, as well as on the potential, limitations, and cracks within these trans-Atlantic connections.
Bolaño’s work in the nineties shows him conscious of the harm that has been done to an entire generation and to the psyche of Chile. His preoccupation with the Chilean situation connects with his interest in writing fiction that recounts that loss, along with the establishment of the central pieces of the new economic world order. For him, the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) unleashes energies associated with a new world map in which the American continent is key to the necropolitics of the end of the century. Bolaño will become the main Latin American author of this period marked by multilateralism, though he is certainly not alone (a central characteristic of Latin American literature of the end of the century is a desire to become global.) Much of what he wrote in the second half of the nineties is an inquiry into Chile’s Pinochet which shows the pervasiveness of evil and the bitter conclusion the neoliberal trend has consolidated. Bolaño’s fame explodes with the publication of The Savage Detectives, which can be read as an instruction manual for contending with the market without making concessions.
This article analyses the 2008 economic crisis and its outcomes for the Baltic states. It then gives a genealogy of European economic policy responses to the crisis, tracing them from the emerging ‘freshwater’ school of economics (e.g. University of Chicago) that arose in opposition to Keynesian theory. The more immediate cause of the 2008 crisis, long in the making, was its reliance on private debt to sustain economic demand in light of profit-enhancing wage suppression. Following the 2008 financial shock, European Union policymakers crafted policy that placed the burden of adjustment on labour. A programme of austerity was chosen in much of the European Union, at odds with the post-war European ‘social model’. This represented a retreat from the notion of a European project that encouraged liberalisation of economic policy but at the same time could be harmonised with a social dimension to create a distinctive ‘Social Europe’. Nowhere was this austerity more vigorously applied than in the Baltic states. Its effects are examined here, along with lessons to be derived from that experience.
Workplace bullying literature has focused mainly on actions of individual targets of mistreatment, undertaken to address the problem, and on analyses of the effectiveness of responses. Less attention has been paid to the efficacy of state regulation in establishing a climate of prevention as well as redress. We examine the role of the Dutch Working Conditions Act as a means of mitigating workplace bullying from the perspective of legislative intention, processes and outcomes. Semi-structured interviews with stakeholders involved in creating, influencing and implementing the Act are analysed thematically to highlight how contextual, employer and phenomenon-specific factors affect the effectiveness of legislation with regard to workplace bullying. The findings indicate that state involvement, organisational commitment and collective action are all important contributors in reducing workplace bullying, but that even in the context of neoliberalism, the role of the nation-state is of critical importance, notwithstanding initiatives by employers.
This essay analyses the relationship of two ‘Great Transformations’: the first from socialism to capitalism, more specifically in Eastern Europe in the 1990s, and the second from regulated to unregulated capitalism in the global economy since the 1980s, with respect to their common origins, elements and social results. Applying Karl Polanyi’s double-movement concept, it is concluded that these two, in essence neoliberal, transformations have led to societies being deeply divided economically, socially and culturally. Moreover, the self-protection of transformation losers is generating adverse political outcomes on a global scale. For both reasons, the outcomes of neoliberal transformations are jeopardising also the viability of the European Union, which was initially built on the basis of a regulated capitalism. The future of the global economy and also of the European Union depends on how the conflicts between the deepening of unregulated globalisation, national sovereignty and democratic politics can be solved.
Australian labour market and industrial relations policies are poised for fundamental change. A combination of political and macroeconomic factors has created a historic opportunity to turn away from the individualised, market-driven labour market policy that has prevailed since the 1980s, in favour of a more interventionist and egalitarian approach. Factors contributing to this moment include the breakdown of bipartisan consensus around key neoliberal precepts; growing public anger over inequality, insecure work and stagnant wages; and a weakening of macroeconomic conditions. Australia’s labour market is now marked by underutilisation of labour in various forms, a deterioration in job quality (especially the growth of insecure and precarious work) and unprecedented weakness in wages. The deterioration in job quality and distributional outcomes is the long-term legacy of the post-1980s shift away from Australia’s earlier tradition of equality-seeking institutional structures and regulatory practices. The current malaise in labour markets should be confronted with a comprehensive strategy to both increase the quantity of work available to Australian workers and improve its quality. The major components of such a strategy are identified, and their prospects considered, in light of the economic and political forces reshaping Australia’s labour market.
This review article discusses MacLean’s study of the ideas of a group of economists and their embracing by an oligarchy of business groups to implement a Neoliberal agenda and its implications for American democracy. It mainly focuses on the Nobel Prize winning economist James McGill Buchanan and the industrialist Charles Koch. Business groups provided funds to Buchanan and others to train right-minded people in the precepts of Neoliberalism, established think tanks and institutes to disseminate their views, and ‘directed’ and/or provided advice and draft legislation for Republican politicians at both the state and federal level. Inspiration for how to achieve this Neoliberal ‘revolution’ can be found in Lenin’s 1902 What is to be Done?. The Neoliberal attack on government and statism is consistent with Orwell’s notion of doublethink. It constitutes a weakening of those parts of the state which are inimical to the interests of a wealthy oligarchy, the federal government and agencies/government departments who are viewed as imposing costs (taxes) on and interfering with (regulating) the actions of the oligarchy, and strengthening other parts such as state governments, the judiciary, at both the state (especially) and federal level and police forces to protect and advance their interests.
In the absence of government safety regulation in the field of nanotechnology, ISO standards are being used as the basis for establishing technical and management guidelines at an international level. There are more than 50 current ISO standards on nanotechnology. Some of these relate to the working environment and occupational risk management. In Latin America, entities that are members of ISO are enunciating national versions of the international standards. In this article, this context is analysed critically, starting from the Mexican standard on occupational risk management in the working environment. Even though risk management standards may guarantee better and safer working conditions, in the field of nanotechnology, they simultaneously unlock detrimental implications for workers and society. Reliance on such private and voluntary forms of industry self-regulation is identified as a by-product of global neoliberalism.
Was neoliberal capitalism the only possible development path in Eastern Europe after the collapse of real socialism? How did the restoration of capitalism in the former Eastern bloc affect the economic and political situation in the world? Is the support of workers and lower classes for right-wing populists that has been observed in Eastern Europe for the past 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall a permanent phenomenon? By asking these questions, the authors point out that the offensive of the far right began in Europe before the 2015 migration crisis and the 2008 financial crisis, and that it coincided with the weakening of leftist workers’ parties. This process began in the 1990s after the collapse of the Eastern bloc. What can stop this process and change the situation? The solution is to show that another model is still possible: greater egalitarianism, democracy and the rule of law. This sociopolitical alternative, however, must simultaneously oppose two powerful forces: neoliberal capitalism and nationalist populism.
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that public institutions and some households in the United Kingdom (UK) were in a vulnerable and weak financial position to mitigate its immediate outcomes. Public institutions did not have the necessary resources to support their communities and low-income groups were disproportionally affected by the economic contraction of 2020–2021. This paper explores how the disastrous consequences of the pandemic were exacerbated by the implementation of an austerity programme, that as an extension of a neoliberal ideology, supported the development of the market at the expense of reducing the welfare state. Through an assessment of four trends that were reinforced during austerity—the four ‘Ds’—this article shows that austerity influenced many of the struggles observed during the pandemic. These trends are disinvestment, decentralisation, decollectivisation and disintegration. Despite the lessons learnt in 2020–2021 and the evident need to move away from a neoliberal agenda that dismantled the capacities of the state, this article concludes that neoliberalism continues to threaten the welfare state and the formation of social collectivities. Some expenditure decisions taken by the British government in 2020–2021 could further deepen social class divisions and regional inequalities. More is needed from the government to tackle these social problems and to build a fairer and more equal society.
The IT industry has been portrayed as instrumental to India’s transition to a high-growth economy. But critics argue that it has delivered few benefits to the wider population. In this context, industry advocates have drawn attention to the direct and indirect impact of IT on output and employment. This article critically explores these claims by locating them in the conventional (neoliberal) narrative of India’s recent economic development. It finds that industry claims are exaggerated and that IT industry demand is often linked to the creation of employment in industries dominated by informal employment arrangements. The prevalence of informal employment highlights problems of low pay and poor or hazardous working conditions. The IT industry’s rise to prominence has traversed a deeply ingrained process of labour market informalisation. In exaggerating the employment-generating capacity of the IT industry, its supporters have largely ignored problems relating to the quality of employment.
This article has three objectives. First, we examine what is meant by minimum labour standards, including the array of different standards and their procedural and substantive elements, in differing or even diverging regulatory jurisdictions. Examination of different areas of labour standards provides instruction in the dynamics of these protections and we give illustrative examples, from several countries. The second objective is to highlight the importance of enforcement of standards. We do this through a brief historical overview of the emergence of labour standards as well as of how the recent rise of neo-liberalism has shaped current debates over their development and application. The third element of the analysis is an examination of some contemporary debates, pointing to areas requiring further study as well as to positive examples both in research and in policy/regulation.
When viewed against its ostensibly successful management of the global economic crisis between 2008 and 2013, growing electoral disenchantment with the Australian Labor Party government during that time defied standard explanations and calls for further analysis. A major reason for the party’s electoral loss in 2013 was arguably popular disappointment with its eschewal of social democratic principles. Notwithstanding some progressive measures initiated between 2008 and 2013, successive Australian Labor Party governments were constrained by neoliberal strictures, even when they chose to implement progressive policies. Whatever other reasons exist for its decline in popularity between 2007 and 2013, the Australian Labor Party’s unwillingness or inability to mark out a clear alternative to neoliberalism was fundamental. In making this case, this article uses the conceptual framework of ‘depoliticisation’, defined as the displacement of policy decisions from the sphere of democratic accountability and public debate, making them matters for regulation by technocratic experts operating according to supposed edicts of the market.
This discussion paper by a group of scholars across the fields of health, economics and labour relations argues that COVID-19 is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis from which there can be no return to the ‘old normal’. The pandemic’s disastrous worldwide health impacts have been exacerbated by, and have compounded, the unsustainability of economic globalisation based on the neoliberal dismantling of state capabilities in favour of markets. Flow-on economic impacts have simultaneously created major supply and demand disruptions, and highlighted the growing within-country inequalities and precarity generated by neoliberal regimes of labour market regulation. Taking an Australian and international perspective, we examine these economic and labour market impacts, paying particular attention to differential impacts on First Nations people, developing countries, women, immigrants and young people. Evaluating policy responses in a political climate of national and international leadership very different from those in which major twentieth century crises were addressed, we argue the need for a national and international conversation to develop a new pathway out of crisis.
The 2013 and 2014 announcements by major car manufacturers that they would wind down all their remaining Australian automotive operations by 2016/2017 pre-empted the March 2014 release of the Productivity Commission’s final report into motor vehicle manufacturing. The Commission suggested that government subsidies had only delayed car plant closures and reiterated its longstanding opposition to industry policy and redistributive regional adjustment programmes by government. Industrialists, employer associations, state governments and trade unions have, however, questioned the Commission’s forecasts for both economic spillover effects and social impacts in regions affected by automotive plant closures. In addition to challenging several underlying assumptions used to calculate the Productivity Commission’s forecasts, this article argues that insufficient attention has been paid to the quality of future work. It extends insights from previous studies of industrial decline by proposing a new research agenda based on the idea of ‘social spillovers’.
Far from being an event of a decade ago, the 2008 global financial crisis is a manifestation of an ongoing crisis of the world order, with social, political and ecological dimensions that cannot be seen separately from each other. The root cause of the crisis can be traced back to the collapse of the Bretton Woods System in August 1971, and the failure to design an equitable and inclusive global financial and economic governance architecture consistent with the changed global economic realities. The vacuum was quickly taken up by the neoliberal orthodoxy that pushed the agenda of wholesale liberalisation, resulting in unprecedented domination of speculative finance capital and multinational corporation–led globalisation. This has seen falling share of wages in national income, growing wealth concentration, rising income inequality and ballooning of household debts. The consequence was frequent and increasingly deeper and wider financial crises.
Australian social policy has seen apparently contradictory developments over the period of economic restructuring. Social spending has increased based on a highly redistributive model while inequality has grown. This article explores the relationship between Australia’s experience of economic restructuring and the political dynamics of an emerging ‘dual welfare state’. Importantly, the article argues that Australian reformers did not reject the state per se, nor egalitarianism as an objective. Instead, reform sought to combine greater competition with compensation, generating larger inequalities in market incomes alongside growing social spending. The article explores how Labor combined neoclassical ideas about competition with a commitment to a ‘small state’ version of social democracy. This did moderate inequalities through the period of restructuring, but it also altered the dynamics of political contestation. The article provides two typologies to understand this political dynamic, arguing forms of marketisation opened the door to a political contest over the nature, rather than the extent, of public provision, while the model of targeting reinforced paternalist tendencies inherent in neoliberal reform.