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Wed Jan 13, 2016, 09:57 PM


How neoliberalism begets neoconservatism


Many libertarians claim to hate the neocon empire builders. Their critiques can be quite helpful -- I read Antiwar.com on a regular basis -- but also shortsighted. Critics of this stripe will never comprehend (or admit) that libertarianism (in the guise of neoliberalism) is the key weapon of the neocons.

Patrick Cockburn makes that very point in this fine article about Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, the dangerous young nutcase who has become the de facto Big Cheese in Saudi Arabia. The Prince understands that "his" country has many internal troubles, and he has decided that the best solution is to inject Milton Friedmanism into the system.

He suggests austerity and market reforms in the Kingdom, but in the context of Middle East autocracies and particularly oil states this breaches an unspoken social contract with the general population. People may not have political liberty, but they get a share in oil revenues through government jobs and subsidised fuel, food, housing and other benefits. Greater privatisation and supposed reliance on the market, with no accountability or fair legal system, means a licence to plunder by those with political power.

This was one of the reasons for the uprising in 2011 against Bashar al-Assad
in Syria and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. So-called reforms that erode an unwieldy but effective patronage machine end up by benefiting only the elite...........

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