April 30 2012
World Text Analysis Essay
Ever since the 1970’s the world has changed. Gone were the days where countries could be content with not being involved in a global market. As famous worker’s rights activist John J. Sweeney states, “A core part of the global market is what might be called the ‘Nike Economy’ - footloose companies that play countries against one another while seeking subcontractors with the lowest wages and cheapest conditions.” Now in the year 2012, the world that exists today is almost unrecognizable from the world that existed only forty years ago. The Neoliberalist way of thinking and its projection on the global market has made more billionaires and eliminated the middle classes of the world. In the article “Where Did The Future Go”, the book A Brief History of Neoliberalism, and the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire the effects of Neoliberalism in a global context are illustrated.
In his article titled, “Where Did The Future Go” Randy Martin discusses the false hope that people get from adopting a Neoliberal state of mind. He starts off his article by stating how when the global market dynamics started to change, people had hopes that the system adopted would eventually grant what was promised. In his words, “For those with the patience and fortitude to abide by its travails, the new day would bring growth, progress, and the promise of a better life.” He describes it as, “a market utopia” and it turns out that is exactly what it was. In order for people to thrive the way they have, there has to be people not doing as well. There is just not enough pie in the world for everyone to have a generous piece. That is the major flaw in Neoliberalism thinking that will be discussed later. Randy Martin understands this as he states, “Needless to say, most of the world’s peoples still awaiting their moment of development to come never got to live the dream … For the last twenty-five years those who might have been lulled by capitol’s utopian chords have been subject to a rude awakening.” That rude awakening is the promise of money and the security that comes with it never made its way to the millions who expected it. Instead the rich got richer and the hopefuls got laid off by their rich bosses because labor was not cost effective.
In his book titled A Brief History of Neoliberalism David Harvey explains Neoliberalism in theory and how it has changed the world as it has expanded to a Global Market. He explains Neoliberalism as something that has changed and is unstable at best, “The practice of Neoliberalization has, however, evolved in such a way as to depart significantly from the template that theory provides” (64). That means Neoliberalism hasn’t accomplished the goals the theory hoped to achieve. The role of the state has remained the same, but the effects of a global market did not unfold according to plan. So, what has been the effect of Neoliberalism on a global scale? One effect is large businesses are free to conduct their business without the regulation of the government. As Harvey states, “Sector’s formally regulated or run by the state must be turned over to the private sphere” (65). Just one example of that happening is the oil business. Not only have major corporations been able to bypass the states from regulating it, they basically speculate on oil prices in the future. This means that they are not basing prices on demand, as they should be. The role of the state also holds through in Neoliberalist theory as oil businesses receive billion-dollar tax breaks and stipends. One effect is supposed to be cheaper prices for the product, but that only holds true in theory. Where are the results? In the end, Neoliberalism did not give wealth to the masses. Instead the most powerful of businesses have been able to corner the markets and set their own prices, “ Competition often results in monopoly or oligopoly, as stronger firms drive out weaker” (67). Whether or not Neoliberalism ever had the goal of worldwide prosperity is highly debatable. Still the results are clearer than ever. The one percent of America will say the system worked. The billions working for the one percent are still waiting for their piece of the pie.
In the movie Slumdog Millionaire Neoliberalism on a global stage is evident. This can be seen literally and in the relationship between Jamal and Salim. In the film when Jamal is having a flashback, he is fighting against the third world lifestyle. Basically, life is so bad for everyone that illegal tactics are the best way to survive. Salim is able to embrace a thuggish lifestyle to take what he needs to thrive. When the two brothers meet at an older age, not much has changed between them. Jamal Malik is still holding on to hope, while Salim is a successful thug. What has changed is the world around them. They sit together and get a great view of sprouting businesses that used to be their third world city. This shows Neoliberalism on a global context. That does not change the fact that the poor are driven out to live in even worse conditions than before. The Neoliberalism ideal that applies to Jamal is he eventually gets his chance at riches. In fact he is thriving at his lucky shot only to get interrogated about it. That is a realistic portrayal of Neoliberalism because even though Jamal is thriving he was a long shot to get his opportunity in the first place. It all ties back to Randy Martin’s point, “most of the world’s peoples … never got to live their dreams.”
To play devil’s advocate, it can be argued that Neoliberalism has run its proper theoretical course. Maybe materials such as gas, electronics, and fast food are as inexpensive as ever. Perhaps that 60 inch flat screen would be more expensive if only America was manufacturing it. That doesn’t make global Neoliberalism right. For every positive there are two or three negatives. The pollution and harmful effects on the environment is one negative aspect of Neoliberalism. If a businesses’ main goal is to make money, then why would it spend more to dispose of toxic waste properly; especially if there will be no consequences enforced by the government. Technology has completely taken the human aspects out of life. Yes, people can communicate as easy as ever, but they truly don’t. Texting is not having real interaction with someone. Lastly, who has truly benefitted from Neoliberalism? Most of the money is concentrated to one percent of the population. The people that used to be well off now have filed for bankruptcy. That answers the question. Neoliberalism has benefitted the rich by making big businesses too large to fail and the intercontinental powers will do all they can to keep it that way.
“Where Did The Future Go”, A Brief History of Neoliberalism, and Slumdog Millionaire showed the effects of Neoliberalism on a global scale. Look around and the arguments made by Martin and Harvey are prevalent worldwide. One man owns almost all the technological facets of Mexico. Most of the wealth is concentrated in one percent of America. India has more people living in poverty than America has citizens. Neoliberalism on a global scale has allowed for this because as long as there are families to feed, there will be people willing to work for less. There will continue to be businesses laying off workers and politicians trying to tear apart worker’s unions. In the end, Neoliberalism failed on two fronts: first, to let the state afford natural rights to the people and second, to spread the wealth to everyone.