The pandemic has shaken up the neoliberalism as an economic project of capitalism. The economic architecture of neoliberalism based on austerity, liberalisation, privatisation, and globalisation has failed to provide basic dignity of life in terms of basic health, education, home and food security. The rise of unemployment, hunger and homeless are the direct products of neoliberal economic policies followed by the states and governments around the world. The neoliberal capitalist reincarnations have failed to provide dignity even to the growing number of dead bodies in the disposable bags as a result of the COVID-19.
The master of neoliberal prophesies and their prophets like Mr Klaus Schwab; the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum argues to re-evaluate the global economic system based on neoliberal ideology of free market fundamentalism, which led to the emergence of global corporate monopolies at the cost of eroded workers’ rights and economic securities of people. Such criminal confessions from the shibboleths of neoliberal architecture of capitalist classes are part of the strategy to revive the legitimacy of a criminal economic and political system that took away dignity from human life and destroyed the planet in search of profit. It has destabilised countries and pushed regions into war and conflicts in the name of spreading free market democracy; the other name of neo-colonialism, which manufactures inequalities in a global scale.
Mr Klaus Schwab argues for sustainable development and green business for economic recovery for launching the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ with the help of technology and digitalisation and ensure our collective commitment to capitalism. He further argues that social progress is the results of capitalist entrepreneurship, efficient allocation of resources by the market forces and risk-taking abilities of the capitalists. These arguments are not only factually incorrect but also based on myopia driven by an ideology of fraudulent economic system called capitalism. There is not an iota of truth in it.
The contradictory ideas of Mr Klaus Schwab are not based on his ignorance or lack of knowledge. It is based on a long tradition of capitalist propaganda and its diversionary strategies. Deception is a crime but innate to capitalism as an economic, political, social and cultural system. Capitalism produces social miseries, economic alienation and political marginalisation, which destroys all forms of social progress based on science and technology by forming alliance with reactionary religious and authoritarian forces. Democratic deficit is part of the neoliberal free market economy that destroys the abilities of states and governments to pursue social and economic welfare of its citizens. His concerns for climate change and green economy is dubious as capitalism grows by destroying environment and exploiting people. Therefore, human dignity, freedom, democracy and sustainable development is not concomitant with capitalism as an ideology of exploitation. The new kind of capitalism with human and green face is another propaganda to hide the inhuman character of capitalism in all its forms. The pragmatic steps of capitalism are in the dead end. Capitalism can never be resilient, cohesive and sustainable.
The World Economic Forum has designed set of “Stakeholder Capitalism Metrics” during its 2020 annual meeting in Davos. The core of these values is based on environmental and social governance. Governance indicates transparency, accountability and rule of law. The rule of law is designed by the ruling classes and make it compatible with the requirements of the capitalist classes. Accountability and transparency are twin dangers to capitalism. Therefore, capitalism does not engage with any system that is accountable and transparent. But unfortunately, the entire model of neoliberal governance is designed to protect the shareholders of capitalism. It is neither accountable to labour and environment that produces profit for capitalism. Sustainable values are an anathema to capitalism. It destroys everything that is sustainable. The profit under capitalism is not based on creative destruction. It is based on absolute annihilation of all creative abilities if labour and nature. It requires repetitive labour, which works in compliance based regulatory regime. The dead capital is free but labour with life in bondages. It treats labour and nature as commodities.
The neoliberal economic policies and its austerity projects are dead but neoliberal political infrastructure is very much alive and thriving. The authoritarian and right-wing political regimes are growing and giving breathing space to capitalism at the cost of lives and environment. Therefore, any form of economic reimagination of economic alternative needs to reimagine the political system. The alternative political economy in the post pandemic world needs to focus on the conditions of production, distribution and exchange relationships. The market can be based on the direct relationship between producers and consumers with the help of information technology. The fourth industrial revolution and its economic system need to follow the models of workers cooperatives based on human needs and desires concomitant with environmental sustainability. These principles are fundamental to the ‘Great Rest’ the post pandemic economy, politics and society. The shared progress, peace, prosperity, human health and dignity and environmental sustainability depends on human abilities to overthrow capitalism and its rotten system. The survival of planet, people and prosperity depends on forward march humanity towards the ideals of equality, liberty, justice, fraternity in a world free from all forms of exploitation.
*Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Coventry University, UK