The Gig Economy and Neoliberalism
Neoliberalism - Wikipedia
A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey
This week’s Pub Convos switches to a more serious note as we delve into a political theory which governs most of our lives, yet you probably don’t realise it. It’s Neoliberalism and how economic individualism has influenced personal individualism
that is so prevalent nowadays.
Disclaimer: I’m not an expert in economic theory and this is an opinion piece.
- In brief, modern neoliberalism supports the idea that the market should be left to regulate itself and is driven by the maximisation of profits. (ie. laissez-faire)
- It strongly opposes trade unions, government intervention and social policies.
- It claims that the privatisation of public services (ie. utilities, public transport etc.) is the only way to run things efficiently and prioritising profits over social benefits.
- Notable neoliberalist in the West are Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan.
How Neoliberalism Reinforces Individualism:
- The demonising of trade unions makes demands for higher wages and better working conditions difficult and shifts the responsibility and blame onto individual workers.
- Unions are also blamed for the inefficiencies in a system (ie. if you have time to protest why can’t you work harder instead?)
- So, individuals have no way of being heard by the economic elite and thus see no value in acting for the social good. Can you see where this is going yet?
- The removal of social policies also emphasises that one must work for their survival and perpetuates social Darwinism (if you don’t work hard enough, you’re a failure).
- It’s your own responsibility to upgrade yourself to climb out of poverty despite the rules of the game being rigged against you.
From Economic to Social Individualism:
- The Covid-19 vaccine is a clear example of social individualism stemmed from economic individualism.
- The freedom of choice in taking the vaccine or not is extremely valid even if it’s in the interest of the community to do so.
- Decades of neoliberal policies telling people that it’s their own individual responsibility to better themselves have made people ultra-individualist.
- So, you can’t really blame them when they don’t want to do something that perpetuates social good.
- You might think neoliberals are now trembling as the lack of vaccination is hurting the economy and if everyone got vaccinated, we’d start making money again.
- Think again! Testing companies, hotels for quarantine, travel insurance companies and private health companies are all making a quick and massive buck.
This issue does not aim to discredit or demonise neoliberalism but to shed a light on its ever-present grip on life and how we operate. I tried my best to present my thoughts as eloquently as possible. If you wanna have a chat about this, feel free to tweet me with the link below.