In the previous article I examined how the resistance against neoliberalism began and what were the causes of the push back. Now I attempt to show that push back at work, both in terms of nations starting to realize that neoliberalism has failed, and also how just a few companies on the face of the planet are helping to undermine the very economic model that made them possible.
Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon. Billions of people use their products daily. These are four companies whose very power and reach potentially influences national elections; where privacy rights is a dirty phrase, despite cosmetic efforts to paper over substantial abuses. All four present their own challenges, but I will focus on Google. When Google wants your medical data so it can develop more applications and software, and – most likely – distribute it to third obscure third party users who have no care for your privacy rights, there is a problem. When one company completely dominates the search engine landscape so completely that other substantial companies are mere bit players, there is a problem. When it has an e-mail platform that despite you deleting all of your e-mails, every single one of them is still being held in data storage somewhere, there is a problem.
Although the United States is starting to realise – to its credit – the monsters these companies have turned into, to some extent their law makers are caught in a bind as without doubt all four of them most probably donate substantially to their election campaigns. If they turn on these companies, Google could refuse to publish their ads, stop corporate donations. But they must try for the sake of America, for the sake of the free world. Google needs to be broken up.
But it is much more than just nations beginning to push back against neoliberalism. There are several factors at work to undermine the whole idea, which I will briefly mention:
- Fukuyama’s idea that the end of history had come was also undermined in part by its monstrous arrogance – a snotty holier than thou belief in western superiority: that if your nation is not a western one it is somehow of irrelevance
- A sort of expectation that countries would start favouring American ideas about democracy and freedom completely ignored their histories and prior foreign interference
- It ignored China whose economy and military spending was just beginning a 25 consecutive year period of near double digit growth in both – the result being China is now an order of magnitude more powerful nation than it was in 1989
- Having seen off the Soviet Union, no one thought to help post-U.S.S.R. Russia establish a democratic system of governance, thus leaving them to witness the rise of Vladimir Putin
- The geopolitical vacuum left by the collapse of the U.S.S.R. was going to have to be filled by something and – wrong as the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001 were – no one should be surprised that a non-conventional, ideological opponent would be that something
- Russia and China are using their influence to stymie the western geopolitical agenda – good or bad – way of the United Nations veto; propping up despots with poor human rights records such as Iran and North Korea
So, as you enjoy the Christmas presents you got on Wednesday, spare a thought for who made that cellphone you got. Spare a thought for those working in retail over the coming days in New Zealand when the Boxing Day sales will be on.
In the simplistic world of Fukuyama it might have been the right thing, the good thing. But Fukuyama is one human being alone, albeit one whose theorem influenced the likes of President George H.W. Bush. When the global order gets altered in such a way as to have a super power trying to impose in an almost hegemonic manner, its will, one should not only imagine a counter movement, they should expect it. That history and all the problems that came with it, far from finished, is staging a second renaissance. Whether we western people are smart enough to realise Fukuyama’s “End of history” is dead is another point altogether.