This week’s reading was about neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism is simply a ‘new’ kind of liberalism. “Liberalism” can refer to politics, the economy, or religion – among many other things – and is progressive in comparison to conservative methods. The main theme of liberalism is free trade. Neo-liberalism has developed from liberalism, and can be seen in the economic policies of the last 25 years or so. Many Americans believe that neo-liberalism policies are a means of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.
The main points of neo-liberalism include: rule of the mark; cutting public expenditure for social services, deregulation, privatization, and eliminating the concept of “the public good” or “community” (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376). Rule of the market in terms of neo-liberalism means total freedom of trade for capital, good, and services. This method of trade is intended to benefit everyone by increasing economic growth via an unregulated market. Cutting price expenditures for social services refers to services such as education, healthcare, and healthcare, and decreases the government’s role in each sector. Deregulation is the process of reducing government regulation of anything that could reduce profits. Privatization is the process of selling state-owned enterprises, goods, and services to private investors. Privatization has led to a concentration of wealth in a small number of people. Eliminating the concept of “the public good” or “community” refers to neo-liberalism replacing the two with individual responsibility. This process takes responsibility away from the government and into the hands of the individual, forcing people to find their own solutions for problems such as health care, education, and social security.
Neo-liberalism is especially evident in Latin American, which is what the article by Patomaki and Teivainen focuses on. Patomaki and Teivainen argue that the most common political theoretical response to the process of globalization is the theory of cosmopolitan democracy. Cosmopolitan democracy holds that globalization forces individuals to rethink the political community within which our democratic ideal and aspirations can be realized. Many models of cosmopolitan democracy, however, are partially detached from real world historical processes. In their article, Patomaki and Teivainen detail why they believe it important to redefine the conceptual basis for cosmopolitan democracy in political economy terms.
As noted, many models of cosmopolitan democracy are often detached from real world historical processes. Held developed a model of cosmopolitan democracy that was greatly influenced by the European integration process, and is therefore very Eurocentric and partically detached from many real world historical processes, such as those present in Latin America. Patomaki and Teivainen argue that this has at least three consequences:
1) it lacks an account of what is going on in different sectors of the globalizing world
2) it excludes the process of transformation towards 'cosmopolitan democracy’
3) it is not as open-ended as such a model should be
In addition to these three consequences, it can give rise to negative effects of power because it is based solely on reflections of European experiences. The Mercosur region of Latin American was found in 1991, and is partially modeled on the European Union. Mercosur, however, is very different from that of Europe and is a prime example of why Patomaki and Teivainen argue that the conceptual basis for cosmopolitan democracy should be redefined in political economy terms to FIT the real world processes of that particular economy.