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The Death of the Nation State

By Christian Marx

Neoliberalism has seen the gradual erosion of the nation state, and in its place Transnational Corporations have infiltrated Federal governments worldwide. The beginning of this atrophy in Australia can be traced back to the Hawke/Keating governments. Hawke and then Keating implemented the Neoliberal system in Australia, via the weakening of import tariffs and the selling off of public assets such as the Commonwealth Bank. The LNP has continued to implement this dogmatic ideology on Australian citizens.

Neoliberalism by its very nature is anti worker and anti society. This ideology first gained a foothold in Chile after the assassination of the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. The basic characteristics of this toxic ideology are smashing unions, weakening government protection for its citizens, selling off all state assets to corporate interests, cutting taxation for the very wealthy, and eroding social services such as healthcare and education. Basically it entrenches systemic poverty and erodes the middle class, while making the top 1-2% extremely rich.

Another disturbing characteristic is the undermining of governments to pursue full employment through economic growth (Van Krieken et al, 2010). Governments could eradicate unemployment tomorrow almost completely, via state run utilities and government funded work. In decades passed, the public sector created hundreds of thousands of jobs, via the public school system, state owned utilities companies such as gas and electricity providers, the fantastic Commonwealth Employment Service (CES) which legitimately helped job seekers find real jobs.

Today we have fake job centres churning people through a system that has at least 1 million unemployed and close to a million underemployed. The system is designed to be dysfunctional. It is the perfect opportunity for privately owned job agencies to suck government funding for a nonexistent service. Added to this, it suits the Neoliberal power-brokers to keep millions unsettled and poor. This serves their ultimate purpose, which is to make people so desperate for employment, that they will take any job, no matter how poor the conditions. Mass unemployment also keeps the hourly rate of pay low. The greater the demand for work, the more power the capitalist class have in exploiting workers.

Privatization has consistently shown to increase prices for consumers, providing a substandard product, cut health and safety, and creates obscene wealth for the board members and the CEOs who work for these private companies. The privatisation of Victorian electricity was just one example. This theft of a state asset resulted in mass redundancies, huge price gouging and the ultimate destruction of a whole community. All the utilities and public services which generations of citizens paid for, via their tax, in good faith, for the benefit of all is sold at often bargain basement prices to corporate raiders and wealthy political backers and their associates. Privatization is a political activity … bringing benefit to some groups and disadvantaging others (Wettenhall, (n.d) p144).

Another terrible result of Globalisation is the huge loss of local jobs, particularly in once public owned sectors. Look at the amount of off shoring of service jobs to India and China. One cannot even speak to a technical officer in Australia for assistance, as all these jobs now reside in India, where these poor people are exploited for multinational profits.

The disastrous Free Trade Agreements are also highly damaging to the Nation State. The Trans Pacific Partnership has a section called ISDS (Investment State Dispute Settlements). These clauses can give corporations the power to sue a national government if its profits are threatened … even if the government decides that legislation is vital to protect the health and well-being of its population!

If a sovereign government cannot enact legislation to protect its own citizens, then it essentially ceases to have any validity or control of its sovereignty. Increasingly multinational corporations are encroaching on the democratic processes of parliament and sovereign legislation. May politicians are compromised by the lure of post political jobs, earning 7 figures salaries if they comply with the undemocratic draconian demands of these Multinational entities.

The trajectory of Neoliberalism and Globalisation over the past three decades indicates that Australia`s national sovereignty is in a weakened state and arguably terminal. If a government is hampered by constraints from multinationals and their thirst for profit, how can it work in the best interests of its citizens? The whole purpose of a government is to protect its citizens from predatory capitalism and ensure the well-being of the taxpaying citizens that it governs for.

A robust and transparent voice is needed to report the danger of Neoliberalism to the wider community. Unfortunately with a weakened state media and a morally bankrupt and deceptive corporate run media, this is sadly lacking. It is ultimately up to the citizens of Australia to use the power of alternative media and the Internet to bypass the lies and the corporate cheer squad for Neoliberalism, or the Nation State will be a system of the past.

References

Wettenhall, R. (n.d). Privatization in Australia: How much and what impacts? Retrieved from http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/EROPA/UNPAN001420.pdf

Van Krieken, R., Habibis, D., Smith, P., Haralambos, M., & Holborn, M. (2010).

Sociology: Themes and perspectives (3rd ed). NSW, Australia: Harper Collins.

 

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27 comments

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  1. babyjewels10

    The best description of what’s happening in Australia right now. Shared.

  2. strobedriver

    This is an excellent and succinct article on the absolute destruction that neo-liberalism is inflicting on the fabric of Australian (and Western) society in general. The nation-state as defined by the Western ‘model’ of society, through the Treaty of Westphalia is also under considerable stress from the rise of China and unless consecutive Australian governments do something to arrest the decline of Australian society, the problems of the future, that of not having an educated-base, of not having a decent standard of living through long-term fulfilling jobs etc, will see and exponential decline in living standards, and this is without taking into account the rise of China and the decline of the interest of Australia by our ‘protectors/’ the USA. This article very appropriate for its time.

  3. stephentardrew

    Spot on neo-liberalism has become a corporate, undemocratic drive for global hegemony with endless redistribution of welts upwards and impoverishment of the middle, lower income and marginalised. It is an abomination.

  4. Carol Taylor

    We are indeed witnessing the effects of this now with the demise of the middle classes, wages are flat, household debt at record highs as we increasingly become a nation of renters beholden to the landlord for a roof over our heads. Job instability via casualisation of our workforce leads to a scared and anxious society too frightened to object lest we lose our employment and our homes and with no savings to fall back on, even more reliant on credit card debt.

    I might add that the ensuing anger and resentment is then redirected not to the cause, but to visible ‘others’ such as minority groups.

  5. nexusxyz

    Very good summary of poisonous ideas. Destruction of millions of people’s lives so the 1% can pocket a few cents in the Dollar more profit.

  6. Matters Not

    Good article but there’s a few occasions when you ‘describe’ (the ‘is’ if you like) when you might advance an ‘ought’. An example:

    The whole purpose of a government is to protect its citizens

    The fact is that ‘government’ doesn’t protect its citizens. Perhaps it ‘ought to’ but it doesn’t. What governments do these days is protect ‘ideologies’, ‘arrangements’, ‘systems’ or whatever where the interests of citizens are sacrificed on the altar of what is ‘supposed to happen’ for the ‘common good’. In short, the ‘theory’ overrides the ‘outcomes’.

    The ‘system’ continues, because the ‘system’ is the way to go (the theory says so) while the ‘outcomes’ are dismissed as aberrations. If it isn’t working then let’s just do it again.

  7. wam

    wowo christian this needs to be nailed to the door of parliament house.
    The dollar gained compared to the collateral damage is awful and way out of perspective but not considered by the lnp and left untouched by MSM. Why??
    ps matters not:
    Have lnp governments won (all)elections by ‘protecting’ its citizens since 1949???

  8. mark delmege

    nice monicker though I would have kept religion out of it.

  9. Miriam English

    It would be nice if we had a government that looked past ideology to evidence-based decisions. As Matters Not said, the inept corporate minions currently in government seem to think if it isn’t working then let’s just do it again. They don’t seem to notice reality. But then, they’re generally religious, so I guess to some degree that’s to be expected.

  10. michael lacey

    Good article! The ugly truth is that neoliberals just don’t like working people. They don’t like “bottom up” prosperity, and the reason for it is very simple. “Corporate lords” have a harder time kicking them around. Once you understand this about the neoliberals , the real motivation for their policies makes perfect sense. Remember, neoliberals believe in social hierarchy and privilege, so the only prosperity they want is limited to them. They want to see absolutely nothing that benefits those who work for an hourly wage. The strategy is clear. The more ignorant and destitute people there are – desperate for any job they can get – the cheaper the neoliberals can get them to work.

  11. Anomander

    Great article – your thoughts mirror mine exactly.

    I find it so frustrating that the evidence is so obvious, yet whenever I talk to people about how we should be fearful of neoliberal ideology, influence and corruption driving government policies – they look at me like I’m some kind of insane conspiracy theorist. I’m sure many of us here have encountered the same reaction.

    Neoliberalism is like some insidious brain parasite that gradually infects more and more minds, imposing a form of tunnel vision and limiting the infected person’s ability to see facts outside the pre-digested propaganda they have been fed.

    Ordinary working people promoting ideas like privatisation, rejecting social programs, favouring corporations and the free market, clambering over each other to get ahead, debasing the poor and disadvantaged, rejecting science, and voting against their own best interests.

  12. townsvilleblog

    I don’t believe in the so called ‘middle class’ workers who drive a car less than 5 years old and who also own a microwave oven see themselves as ‘middle class’ when in reality they are working class. Hawke & Keating did begin this rubbish in Australia, they sold working people out, yet claim to be Labor PMs, laughable. They were the best ‘tory’ PMs Australia ever had, did nothing for the workforce and retired rich, after selling out their constituency. What this country needs is a party who will turn things around, get the 6-8 billion out of the corporations every year and lift the everyday Australians lifestyle out of poverty and into prosperity.

  13. Hotspringer

    Absolutely spot on! I find it incredible that so many still view Keating and Hawke as some saints, epigones of virtue, defenders of the workers’ rights when the opposite is the truth. The ALP is still seen by too many as a progressive centre-left party. Bah humbug!

  14. Freethinker

    I agree with the article and the sad reality is that the damage done cannot be reversed.
    Perhaps only a major world wide crisis will be the only way to nationalise all the public assets sold by previous governments.

  15. billshaw2013

    Good article that I can only wish that all Australians read and understood. Privatizing employment agencies for instance makes no sense. Their incentive is profit, not a reduction in the unemployed. Whereas organizations such as the CES are more stable, focusing on new entrants to the job market with no incentive for monetary gain.

  16. FreeThinker

    I had a bit to do with the CES 20 years ago, via the medium of a university postgrad program, Deakin University were then running for the organisation, an outcome of Keating’s 1994-95 ‘ Working Nation ‘ blueprint. They were, as government employees, committed through their work with the unemployed, to furthering the common good, and indeed an impressive group of people.

    Howard soon killed the program in his Neo-liberal fantasy to seek to make Australia more a nation of individual contractors who could be bought and sold by corporations or by governments with a fetish for ‘ contracting out ‘ their essential services to the private sector. Howard’s vision also was for developing a nation where more citizens develop interests in personal financial speculation, than than becoming a nation of people more committed to the pursuit of the common good. Sadly, that is the nasty legacy he has left on our nation, one consistent with neo-liberal ideology

    Howard’s first Minister for weakening the excellent CES model was the swaggering, no-nothing narcissist, Tony Abbott. I remember well his appearance at the Deakin Conference in 1996, as both hubristic and platitudinous.

    The Canadian philosopher and author John Raulston Saul, alerted us to the ever rising influence of transnational corporations 15-20 years ago, and the corresponding decline of the nation state. Thank you for an excellent article.

  17. blackant

    Neoliberalism is just a ‘swap’ in management of the fascist state where previously the state controlled capital for power, whereas what we have now is capital controlling state for power. However, the people involved are similar, their uniforms are just different. And obviously whereas previously the fascists where loud and proud now the facade is Conservative with a delusional voting public drifting around aimlessly after buying into this new fascist dream. It’s so demoralising.

  18. Gangey1959

    Excellent article.
    It doesn’t matter what label our ”government has, labor or lnp, they are both to blame for the situation Australia is in since hawke/keating, and even the ”great” whitlam started breaking down the trade protection barriers that are written into our Constitution.
    @ Matters Not. “The whole purpose of a government is to protect its citizens” is damn straight. That ours does not, and in fact does the complete opposite is wherein lies the problem. Today’s “orstrayliun” newspaper told me that the feds are stopping the chinese from buying the NSW power grid (on security grounds.). Big effing hairy deal. It shouldn’t be being sold to anyone.
    When those of us who are NOT the 1% are finally all unemployed, and scratching for somewhere to live, who is going to feed the 1% ?What are the 1% going to eat?
    And how are the 1% going to stop the revolution, when the 99% have nothing left to lose and everything to gain, because all of their new war-toys are still on the drawing boards of companies in countries that really don’t give a crap about Australia anyway.

  19. Never Been There

    “and even the ”great” whitlam started breaking down the trade protection barriers that are written into our Constitution.”

    Care to name one?

  20. katoombawarren

    Great article. Just to reinforce your point on unemployment. Dr Victor Quirk spoke in Katoomba last year on “The Right to Work” and the history of full employment in Australia. Your allusion to our once existing full employment policy is rare. Let us hear much more about it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pS7AOaYY6Lo

  21. Steven Pidgeon

    Very good article …. This is definitely one of our primary enemies currently. It is this that genuine nationalists need to be fighting against. Meanwhile, we are being fed hate and fear by our mass media, distracting people from who the real causes of terror are. We need to stand united to break the hold of the international business and monetary powers that hold the world in a strangle hold.

  22. Jane Love

    Bloody brilliant. 100% spot on.

  23. Jane Love

    Pauline Hanson has been saying all this for years. 100% spot on.

  24. Andreas Bimba

    Agree totally, does that make me a Marxist now?

  25. mark delmege

    It could but it probably won’t Andreas. Mind you I have always felt Marx analysis useful (as another guide to understanding the past and present) but what to do next is the hard part. I was asked recently who I support and I couldn’t give a good answer but I could say what I didn’t or don’t like.

    Maybe thats just the easy part but maybe thats all we have. As individuals we can resist doing or supporting dumb shit.

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