Neo-liberalism, State and Pandemic

Bhabani Shankar Nayak

Neo-liberalism has dismantled the collective foundations of families, states and governments. The ideological and political differences have submerged within different waves of neo- liberalism. Such an ideology has consummated the states and governments around the world. But the ravages of Corona virus pandemic unravels the dynamic nature of neo liberalism and its abilities to transform individuals, communities, societies and states singing the glories of its free-market ideology and hide all its failures. In truth Neo- liberalism has failed as an ideology and as a project of global capitalism. The neoliberal states, governments and policy agendas have also failed earlier and during the Corona virus led pandemic. The failure of neo- liberalism does not mean the end of neo liberalism. Neo- liberalism survives within structures of state and its governance practices.The governments around the world follow different variants of neo -liberalism in their everyday policy formulation and implementation. The elusive neoliberal ideological framework of governance and its principles continue to destroy every available alternative for a better tomorrow. The ambiguity and incoherence of neo -liberalism as an ideology is not merely a survival strategy but its doctrinaire core.

In spite of its ideological commitment to free market and opposition to state intervention, the survival of neo -liberalism depends on a strong and securitised state and a corporate compliant government. It is a necessary requirement. Therefore, it is a fundamental mistake to write off neo liberalism and its intrinsic relationship with powerful states and authoritarian governments. The neoliberal culture has successfully managed to enter into electoral practices of constitutional democracies, where corporate media manipulates the minds of citizens with insatiable and unnecessary desires. The failure of markets, states and governments are branded as failure of individuals for their greedy desires. In reality, the austerity programmes and policies have destroyed the abilities of individuals, states and governments to perform during a crisis. Neo -liberalism and its market compliant states and governments are acting as barriers to successfully control, contain and manage to overcome the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn.

In the name of entrepreneurship, competition, efficiency and freedom, neoliberal capitalism has destroyed the social and communitarian foundations of availability, accessibility, distribution and exchange mechanisms to disconnect producers from the consumers. Such a disconnection process is central for the creation of independent market which can control demand and supply with the help of pricing tool independent of consumers and producers. Such a profit driven market system destroyed both the independence and abilities of both producers and consumers. The states and governments have played a major role in accelerating market forces through both democratic and authoritarian means. The pyramid of neo- liberalism has created a monetised society where usefulness and disposability of individuals and communities depend on their abilities to access market and engage with culture of consumerism. Neo- liberalism enforces the idea of strong states and governments to pursue its own agendas.

The strong states and governments are sponsored by the corporate powers to increase security apparatus to protect the consolidation of corporate wealth with the help of legal and judicial frameworks. The systems are designed to control the people and provide absolute freedom to market forces. The pandemic is an opportunity for the neoliberal ideologues to ensure that strong states and governments to reorganise and impose their version of society that remains subordinated to the needs of the markets with the help of worldwide culture of consumerism. The unquestionable orthodoxy of neo- liberalism is neither new nor liberal. It shows all its medieval and feudal tendencies in letter and spirit. It forms alliance with authoritarian, fascists and reactionary forces to promote the primacy of profit and dominance of markets over individuals, families, communities, states and societies.

Mass alienation of individuals, betrayal of citizenship rights, corporatisation of states, governments and societies, dismantling of communities and families, unemployment, hunger, homelessness, poverty, inequality, exploitation, discrimination and destitution are the net outcomes of neo-liberalism as an ideology and a project of global capitalism. Neo-liberalism produces its own structures power based on deceptive culture, politics and knowledge traditions to sustain itself as a dominant ruling ideology with the help of strong states and governments.

Vol. 53, No. 32, Feb 7 - 13, 2021