The neoliberal transformation and the decay of democracy

Michele Cangiani

EMES Conferences Selected Papers Series, ECSP-P12-02.

“Neoliberalism” is to be analyzed as an historical phase of the market-capitalist society. It started as an institutional re-arrangement, with the purpose to getting over the political and economic crisis of the 1970s.

Neoliberal globalization has not allowed the countries traditionally constituting the “center” of capitalist development to resume their postwar pace of growth. The slowdown has continued in the last three decades, which have been punctuated by more or less dramatic crises, more or less postponed by various “bubbles”, making then heavier the crash.

The globalization of the labor market has gone hand in hand with its fragmentation. Corporations have looked for cheap labor and convenient or, better, inexistent labor legislation all around the world. Lower levels of wages and harder conditions of work have been imposed in “central” countries too, in the name of the need to face competition. This sort of corporate strategy has obviously been embittered by the current crisis, together with competition; however, by depressing workers’ purchasing power, it makes the crisis continue.

The result is a vicious circle producing “social costs” (Kapp 1978 [1963]), shifted from big industrial and financial corporations onto many small enterprises, the greater part of citizens, public administrations, weaker countries and future generations. Yet, not merely the crisis, which is also a result of the neoliberal policy, but that policy itself have had devastating consequences on human beings, society and natural environment.

The neoliberal transformation and the decay of democracy


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