The end of neo-liberal capitalism has been the most critical development in the history of modern democracy. When the struggle began, during the last century, the odds against defeating an economic model so entrenched in Western thinking seemed formidable. The vulnerable middle classes as well as the vast armies of the poor seemed defenceless against the power of elites who controlled multinational capital and the governments that supported them. What swung the balance in favour of the people was the formation of supra-national political movements capable of acting simultaneously across borders in the same way as capital. As a result, governments, corporations, and agencies like the IMF, IADB and WTO came under pressure everywhere to place education, social welfare, and the environment at the heart of productive activity. Awareness of the potential to counteract the impersonal forces of market fundamentalism became a catalyst for a new democratic awakening in which people were able to exercise broad authority over their working lives and over economic policy.
The profile of commercial activity has necessarily also changed. Free trade treaties have been consigned to the rubbish dump of history as socially disruptive and undemocratic. Since firms depend on state-financed infrastructure, they are now treated as joint ventures with the people. Purely private enterprise, therefore, no longer exists. Companies pay tax both on profits and on their environmental footprint and disruption of human settlement. This has dramatically modified their willingness to invest in despoliation, and made it impossible for them to do so without local consent.
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Carnaval na rua, author Jeremy Fox, www.foxjones.com
Author: Jeremy Fox