Global social fascism: violence, law and twenty-first century plunder

Coleman, Lara Montesinos (2018) Global social fascism: violence, law and twenty-first century plunder. Working Paper. University of Sussex, Centre for Global Political Economy, Brighton, UK.

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The intellectual authors of neoliberalism were aware of the lethal implications of what they advocated. For ‘the market’ to work, the state was to refuse protection to those unable to secure their subsistence, while dissidents were to be repressed. What has received less attention is how deadly neoliberal reforms increasing come wrapped in social, legal and humanistic rhetoric. We see this not only in ‘social’ and ‘legal’ rationales for tearing away safety nets in Europe’s former social democratic heartlands, but also in the ‘pro-poor’ emphasis of contemporary development discourse. This includes contexts where colonial legacies have facilitated extreme armed violence in service of corporate plunder. To expose these dynamics, I juxtapose the everyday violence of austerity in Britain with neoliberal restructuring in Colombia. The latter is instructive precisely because, in tandem with widespread state-backed terror, Colombia has held fast to the language and institutions of liberal democracy. It has, as a result, prefigured the subtle authoritarian tendencies now increasingly prominent in European states.

The reconceptualization of law, rights and social policy that has accompanied neoliberal globalization is deeply fascistic. Authoritarian state power is harnessed to the power of transnational capital, often accompanied by nationalistic and racist ideologies that legitimize refusal of protection and repression, enabling spiraling inequality. Nevertheless, extending Boaventura de Sousa Santos’s discussion of ‘social fascism’, I suggest that widespread appeal to the ‘social’ benefits and ‘legal necessity’ of lethal economic policies marks a significant and Orwellian shift. Not only are democratic forces suppressed: the very meanings of democracy, rights, law and ethics are being reshaped, drastically inhibiting means of challenging corporate power.

Item Type: Reports and working papers (Working Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Development
School of Global Studies > International Relations
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Global Political Economy
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 18 Sep 2018 10:49
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2018 10:53

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