[Marxism] Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Aug 10 06:35:05 MDT 2019


LRB, Vol. 41 No. 16 · 15 August 2019
Every Penny a Vote
by Alexander Zevin

Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism by Quinn 
Slobodian
Harvard, 381 pp, £25.95, March 2018, ISBN 978 0 674 97952 9

Neoliberalism is often conceived as a system of self-regulating markets, 
shrunken states and crudely rational individuals. Early neoliberals, 
however, didn’t believe in markets’ self-correcting properties. Instead, 
as Quinn Slobodian argues in Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth 
of Neoliberalism, they were concerned above all with establishing 
governments, laws and institutions in which markets could be embedded in 
order to make them work as they should – not only at a national but at a 
global level. This approach was a response to the fragmentation of 
empires that began after the First World War, and the popular demands 
for redistribution and self-determination that surged through the 
nation-states that took their place. When these demands impinged on the 
free trade order, neoliberals opposed them as a form of juridical 
trespass: imperium, the authority of territorial states, must not breach 
the rule of dominium, the boundless sway of private property. In tracing 
this dynamic, Slobodian draws an intellectual genealogy of the 
‘neoliberal world economic imaginary’ from interwar Vienna to 1990s 
Geneva, and from the furious debates over economic planning that 
followed the fall of the Habsburg Empire to those that generated the 
EEC, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the WTO.

Slobodian could have spent even longer discussing the ways in which 
post-imperial Vienna shaped the thinking of the two theoretical 
economists whose lives spanned the ‘neoliberal century’: Ludwig Heinrich 
Edler von Mises, born to a politically connected merchant family in 
Lemberg in Galicia in 1881, and Friedrich August von Hayek, born in 
Vienna in 1899 to a long line of ennobled industrialists from Moravia. 
Mises began working at Vienna’s Chamber of Commerce in 1909, and became 
its secretary in 1918. The Austrian School of economics, in which he and 
Hayek were trained, had supplied the monarchical state with royal tutors 
and finance ministers for three generations. Defeat in the First World 
War brought the empire crashing down, shorn of three-quarters of its 
territory and four-fifths of its population. The socialist government of 
the First Austrian Republic, which took office in February 1919, 
introduced unemployment insurance, the eight-hour working day and other 
social reforms. Such measures didn’t go much beyond the reforms brought 
in by the New Liberalism in Britain before the First World War, but for 
Mises they were ‘Bolshevism’, and would ‘lead Vienna to starvation and 
terror within a few days’. ‘Plundering hordes would take to the 
streets,’ he warned, ‘and a second bloodbath would destroy what was left 
of Viennese culture.’

Mises saw himself as the ‘economic conscience’ of a civilisation on the 
verge of collapse. He recommended corporate tax cuts, balanced budgets, 
the violent repression of unions and the cutting of wages, which had 
risen as a result of the war and had to be reduced ‘far below their 
prewar level’ to restore competitiveness to Austrian industry on the 
world market. As finance minister, Joseph Schumpeter, his brilliant and 
erratic classmate at the University of Vienna, wanted to tackle 
inflation with a capital levy, which shocked Mises. When the socialist 
foreign minister, Otto Bauer, another former classmate, put forward a 
plan for limited state takeovers, Mises tried to sink it by arguing that 
central planning could never be implemented. Without markets to set 
prices, he said, there could be no efficient allocation of resources, no 
tallying of gains and losses; socialist management, he wrote later, 
would be ‘like a man forced to spend his life blindfolded’.

In 1921, Mises hired Hayek to work on the war reparations demanded by 
the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. After returning home from the 
Italian front, Hayek had studied law at the University of Vienna, also 
taking classes in art history, biology and psychology, as well as making 
nightly trips to the theatre. The members of Mises’s Privatseminar would 
relocate to Café Künstler in the evenings, drinking, arguing and singing 
about economics, philosophy and drama until 3 a.m. The picture is at 
odds with Mises and Hayek’s portrayals of themselves as lonely and 
powerless. The first neoliberals were deeply involved in the cultural 
world of Vienna, where the study of economics was defined by political 
threats from the street.

In July 1927, the acquittal of three right-wing militia members for the 
murder of a war veteran and a child in a working-class district set off 
a general strike and demonstrations. Protesters put the Palace of 
Justice to the torch, and the police fired into the crowd, leaving 89 
dead. ‘Friday’s putsch has cleansed the atmosphere like a thunderstorm,’ 
Mises wrote. ‘The street fight ended in complete victory for the 
police.’ He believed Mussolini’s victory had for the moment ‘saved 
European civilisation. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself 
will live on eternally in history.’ Talk of workers’ ‘right to the 
street’ or of ‘universal, equal and direct voting rights’ was often, he 
believed, cover for ‘terror and intimidation’. By contrast, he insisted 
to a group of German industrialists in 1931 that ‘the capitalistic 
market economy is a democracy, in which every penny constitutes a vote.’ 
Elected by means of what he called a ‘consumer plebiscite’, the rich 
depended on the ‘will of the people as consumers’, even when their 
wealth was inherited, since it could ‘be preserved only by those who 
keep on earning it anew by satisfying the wishes of consumers’. In 1934 
Mises joined the Patriotic Front, launched the year before to rally 
support for the Catholic conservative and nationalist regime of 
Engelbert Dollfuss, which banned the Nazi and Communist Parties and 
forged an alliance with Italy. In February, Dollfuss moved against the 
socialists, putting down a fitful uprising of workers in Linz, shelling 
Karl Marx Hof in Vienna, expelling the Social Democrats from parliament 
and passing a new corporatist constitution. He was assassinated in an 
attempted Nazi coup in July.

That same year Mises left for Geneva. The Austrians had strong links 
with organisations in the city. The International Chamber of Commerce, 
founded in 1919 to bring American and European businessmen together, 
worked with the Financial Section of the League of Nations to lower 
tariffs, stabilise currencies and settle outstanding war debts. Mises 
had become Austria’s representative to the ICC in 1925, and when in 1927 
he and Hayek opened the Business Cycle Research Institute in Vienna, 
they did so in close co-ordination with the League. The aim, Hayek wrote 
at the time, was to paint a ‘complete picture of the economic situation 
of the larger region and investigate the mutual dependency of smaller 
economic areas’: they produced some of the first models of regional and 
global economies. The Rockefeller Foundation gave $20,000 to the Vienna 
institute in 1931, and funded others in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and 
Poland. Four years later, the Graduate Institute of International 
Studies invited Mises to teach in Geneva. Its founder, William Rappard, 
the director of the Mandate Section of the League, described the 
institute as a diplomatic training ground for a transatlantic elite, and 
himself secured $100,000 from the Rockefellers. It became an academic 
hub for the most globally minded neoliberals, whose position was 
distinct enough, Slobodian argues, for the group to deserve its own 
name: the Geneva School.

By now, the Depression had struck, weakening the hand of the 
neoliberals. Demands for state intervention, and new theories to explain 
and counteract the crisis, now came not only from socialists but from 
liberals, many of whom had been allies of the neoliberals at the 
business summits of the 1920s. To ‘speak of a national, social or world 
economy’, Hayek later wrote, ‘is one of the chief sources of the most 
socialist endeavour to turn the spontaneous order of the market into a 
deliberately run organisation serving an agreed system of common ends’.

Events in Britain showed just how far liberalism had been blown off 
course. After the First World War, it had slowly and painfully led the 
world back to free trade, the gold standard and balanced budgets. But 
the illusion that London could achieve this on its own burst in 1931, 
when the Kreditanstalt collapse in Austria set off panic selling in the 
City, a run on the pound and an austerity budget that split the Labour 
government. To meet the crisis, Keynes (whom Hayek liked, but found 
curiously ignorant of economics) was willing to countenance all sorts of 
deviation from liberalism, while still pledging allegiance to it: fiscal 
stimulus, loose credit, tariffs, even an (ill-defined) ‘socialisation of 
investment’. Fears that liberalism itself could be co-opted and deformed 
in this way prompted Mises, Hayek and their allies to revisit and 
restate their doctrinal commitment to ‘true’ liberalism.

There was one bastion of genuine liberalism left in England: the 
economics department of the LSE, where Lionel Robbins invited Hayek to 
speak at the height of the national crisis in 1931, then offered him a 
post to lead the countercharge to Keynes. Hayek took to his new home, 
with its comforting social hierarchies and imperial responsibilities; it 
was ‘like stepping into a warm bath where the water is the same 
temperature as your body’. Public works and other ‘artificial 
stimulants’, such as low interest rates, could only make the Depression 
worse, he argued, since they had caused the crash in the first place. In 
a typical move, he insisted that what critics took to be a failure of 
the markets was in fact their true virtue. Equilibrium models erred in 
assuming a ‘perfect market in which everybody knows everything,’ Hayek 
told the London Economic Club in 1936. The magic of markets, on the 
contrary, was that few people knew much at all, but that their 
‘spontaneous actions’ could still ‘bring about a distribution of 
resources which can be understood as if it were made according to a 
single plan, although nobody has planned it’. Hayek made ‘unknowability’ 
a central tenet of legal designs that sought to shield this providential 
planlessness – in which ignorance, error and disappointment all had 
roles to play – from the hubris of planners.

Two years later, he helped to organise the colloquium in Paris inspired 
by Walter Lippmann’s Inquiry into the Principles of the Good Society, 
which had used Austrian ideas to attack Roosevelt’s New Deal, while also 
urging liberals to move past ‘the fallacy of laissez-faire’ and build a 
positive legal-political agenda. The German economist Alexander Rüstow 
suggested ‘neoliberalism’ as a name for their collective project, as a 
way of indicating their dissatisfaction with 19th-century dogmas. Wide 
enough to encompass differing perspectives, the prefix also delimited 
their range: neither New Liberalism, with its record of expanded state 
assistance in Britain before 1914, nor bad old laissez-faire.

*

This is the conciliatory moment at which histories of neoliberalism 
often begin. By starting earlier and in Vienna, Slobodian shows that the 
common periodisations don’t hold up: the notion that neoliberals were, 
by and large, moderate in tone and inclined to compromise, only to lose 
their way in the 1970s and 1980s, is chimerical. The foundational 
intellectual work was radical, and took place before the Second World War.

In 1938, Robbins had blamed the rise of the Nazis on state planners, but 
as director of the war cabinet’s economic section in charge of food 
planning, he became a cautious convert to Keynesian macroeconomics. He 
was the exception. Before the war broke out, Hayek reported, ‘the 
general opinion in England was that the Nazis were a reaction, a 
capitalist reaction, against socialism.’ He was ‘so irritated by this’ 
that he drafted a memorandum for William Beveridge, then director of the 
LSE, intended to explain to ‘English intellectuals that they were 
completely mistaken in their interpretation of what the Nazi system 
meant, and that it was just another form of socialism’. During the war, 
he expanded this view into The Road to Serfdom. Written between 1940 and 
1943, when the independence of the British state was at stake, the book 
imperturbably conflated fascism and social democracy, spending more time 
warning of the creeping menace of the latter than the evils of the 
former. Hayek conceded the need for a social safety net but, as 
Slobodian points out, only on condition that an interstate federation 
was in place to limit its growth – an authority above the nascent 
welfare state, with the power to say no to it.

In Omnipotent Government, published in 1944 in New York, where he had 
moved after the Fall of France, Mises condemned ‘self-styled liberals’ 
who were ‘enthusiastic friends of totalitarian methods of economic 
management’, and whose ‘notion of democracy is just the opposite of that 
of the 19th century’. He got a job at NYU and a rent-controlled 
apartment on West End Avenue. There, he developed his plans for postwar 
Europe, which was to be made safe for liberalism through federation. For 
the former Austro-Hungarian lands, he proposed an Eastern Democratic 
Union, ruled from a parliament in Vienna, with French and English 
commissioners (appointed by the League of Nations) controlling budgets, 
taxes, monetary policy, loans and police (to ensure timely payment), but 
coins, flags, anthems and other cultural artefacts left to the component 
nations. In The German Question, written in wartime Switzerland, Wilhelm 
Röpke offered another blueprint for Central Europe. In the introduction, 
Hayek praised Röpke’s ideas for dismantling the state Bismarck had built 
– a ‘large unit centrally organised for common purposes’ – in favour of 
decentralised federalism, ‘supplemented by the enforcement of complete 
free trade, external and internal’. This was not only the ‘most 
effective economic control’ aimed at preventing Germany from trying to 
become self-sufficient, but ‘the only kind of control that could not be 
secretly evaded’.

The international institutions that emerged under American hegemony fell 
short of these visions. The neoliberals may have been disappointed, but 
they were also motivated to fight the postwar consensus. From 
Switzerland, the Mont Pelerin Society, founded in 1947, a group of 
intellectuals, businessmen and politicians, surveyed the European 
empires that had survived the war. According to Slobodian, their ‘dream 
was of decolonisation without the destructive desire for economic 
autonomy’. In fact, their first choice was a free trade system like the 
old British Empire’s: facilitating the flow of goods and investment with 
bills of exchange and the gold-sterling standard, intervening directly 
when necessary to preserve European lives and property.

Unlike the more clubbable League, The United Nations was never to 
neoliberal tastes. It seemed to extend what Mises and Hayek distrusted 
most in modern nation-states: one man, one vote; a forum where poor, 
newly independent countries could ask for exemptions to the rules of the 
free market. Were neoliberals naive enough to believe the UN was 
democratic, when the Security Council gave five of its members a veto 
over all the rest? If so, the misunderstanding proved useful. They 
scored a significant tactical victory in 1948, when they sank the 
International Trade Organisation, meant to be the third pillar of the 
Bretton Woods system after the IMF and World Bank. Rather than risk the 
limited exemptions to free trade that Latin American and Asian delegates 
were seeking in order to industrialise or pursue full employment, the 
neoliberals torpedoed the whole thing before it even got to the UN for a 
vote. They did this in part by adapting the language of the Universal 
Declaration of Human Rights. Michael Heilperin, a founding member of 
Mont Pelerin, wrote the ICC’s International Code to Protect Foreign 
Investments, which enshrined the ‘preferential’ standing of foreign 
investors over the host state. Neoliberals, in other words, deftly 
promoted the human right of the stateless investor to capital flight.

Such strict conceptions of capital mobility did more than make enemies 
of developing countries. They antagonised the UK delegation to the ICC. 
To build the New Jerusalem in a context of postwar scarcity, Britain had 
to staunch the hot money flows that had wreaked havoc in the 1920s and 
1930s. It also needed colonies, not least for their raw materials, which 
earned it dollars on the world market. When in 1951 Iran nationalised 
the Anglo-Persian oilfields at Abadan, Britain’s largest overseas asset, 
Mises showed no sympathy. ‘If it is right for the British to nationalise 
the British coal mines,’ he wrote, ‘it cannot be wrong for the Iranians 
to nationalise the Iranian oil industry. If Mr Attlee were consistent, 
he would have congratulated the Iranians on their great socialist 
achievement.’ ‘The Mossadeqs’, Röpke later added, were appealing to ‘the 
Attlees and the Bevans, who have inspired them with the idea of 
nationalisation’. The Iranians weren’t justified in taking the oil, but 
Britain could hardly expect better, when it had already violated the 
principles of private property. The solution was not to decolonise 
abroad but to denationalise at home.

Colonial subjects demanded the opposite: economic development along 
national lines and self-determination on the world stage. In resisting 
them, how important was the category of race for postwar neoliberals? 
Slobodian says that explicitly ‘racial thinking’ was rare, though Röpke 
was a major exception. In 1964 he published South Africa: An Attempt at 
a Positive Appraisal, which argued that apartheid was justified because 
the ‘South African Negro’ was not only of ‘an utterly different race’ 
but ‘a completely different type and level of civilisation’. Pretoria 
ordered 36,000 copies. When foreign students protested in the Neue 
Zürcher Zeitung against his giving a lecture on Africa in Zurich, he 
told a friend that ‘these NZZ intellectuals will not be satisfied until 
they let a real cannibal speak.’ Infuriated by the uneasy response in 
Western capitals to Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence 
in Rhodesia, he said: ‘If a white developing country proves that 
development aid is unnecessary then it has to be destroyed.’

Other neoliberals may not have endorsed this kind of racism, but when 
demands for equality between the races threatened to result in the 
redistribution of property, their positions often converged with 
Röpke’s. Hayek publicly opposed the use of sanctions against apartheid 
(even an arms embargo went too far), and didn’t favour black majority 
rule unless the state could first be stripped of its powers to do 
economic mischief. He confided to his secretary that he liked blacks no 
better than Jews. In 1976, Milton Friedman spoke up in Newsweek for 
white minority rule in Rhodesia, and visited the University of Cape Town 
to explain to its predominantly white, segregated student body his 
opposition to universal suffrage in South Africa. Echoing Mises, he 
described it as ‘highly weighted voting in which special interests have 
far greater roles to play than does the general interest’. William Hutt, 
an LSE-trained economist and labour specialist whose 1964 book The 
Economics of the Colour Bar is often still cited as evidence of 
principled neoliberal opposition to racism, was transfixed by the danger 
of the ‘tyranny of parliamentary majorities’ in Africa. Hutt suggested 
using an educational test to weed out black voters, to be followed (at 
best) half a century later by a weighted franchise that would enhance 
the value of Europeans’ votes as their share of the total declined. He 
warned Smith before UDI that such arrangements were essential if his 
regime was ‘not to be replaced by an era of black domination’.

Slobodian is right to stress that ‘the main stream of neoliberals saw a 
world of rules, not a world of races,’ but this made their theories 
attractive to many who saw the world in racial terms. The formal 
freedoms of the marketplace, of buyers and sellers, have always meant 
that those excluded from it need not be named. Far from dissolving 
existing social relations, the neoliberal vision of a depoliticised 
economy offered ingenious ways to seal them in amber – whether in 
Austria, South Africa or the American South. Hayek designed 
constitutions for Salazar in Portugal and Pinochet in Chile – as 
‘proof’, he told Salazar, ‘against the abuses of democracy’, and proof, 
too, that ‘it is possible for a dictator to govern in a liberal way.’

But the most important constitutional breakthrough for neoliberalism did 
not come in the underdeveloped periphery. As Slobodian demonstrates, it 
came in Europe, where German Ordoliberals played a decisive role in 
European integration. At the outset, neoliberal ranks divided over the 
Treaty of Rome. For the Austrians, concessions made to Paris over 
agriculture and imperial preference meant the glass was half empty. Not 
only were inefficient French farmers to be subsidised, but the inclusion 
of its empire – as well as Belgium’s – wasn’t an extension of free trade 
so much as a regional cartel. Territorially, 90 per cent of the common 
market fell outside Europe and negotiations stumbled at the last minute 
over German demands for tariff-free access to cocoa, coffee and bananas 
from Latin America.

The Germans actually involved in treaty negotiations were more 
clear-sighted about the EEC’s potential and helped ensure that its laws 
on the free movement of the factors of production were ‘directly 
effective’, applying to both member states and individuals, and 
enforceable in national courts and the European Court of Justice. This 
was the legal framework the neoliberals had long sought, in which 
uniform rules for market activity operated across borders, overriding 
national legislatures. Robbins, Mises and Hayek had dreamed of regional 
federations of this kind in the 1930s; as enacted, the EEC surpassed 
their blueprints. Competition law became the linchpin of this 
supranational order, a model of ‘multilevel governance’. The EEC started 
out as an uneasy compromise between German Ordoliberalism and French 
neo-colonialism, but it wasn’t long before the first had outflanked the 
second. Later treaties extended its logic. In 1992, Maastricht placed 
basic elements of sovereignty beyond the reach of states, laying the 
groundwork for the introduction of the single currency in 1999. In 2012 
the Fiscal Compact saw the budgetary rules of the Eurozone written 
directly into national constitutions.

Against the ‘regionalist’ Treaty of Rome, ‘universalists’ such as 
Heilperin, Röpke and Gottfried Haberler championed the General Agreement 
on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of 1947, for which Haberler wrote a report 
in 1958 criticising the EEC’s ‘Eurafrican’ clauses as obstructions to 
free and fair competition. Former colonies at first used the report to 
complain of the EEC’s discrimination, but many had shifted strategy by 
1974, when the UN General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution 
calling for a ‘new international economic order’ at the behest of 
developing countries, given temporary clout by a commodities boom. This 
resolution asserted the right of states to regulate and, if necessary, 
nationalise multinational corporate assets, with compensation to be 
settled by domestic courts. Haberler pronounced its demands a deadlier 
menace to liberty than communism. In Geneva, Jan Tumlir, GATT’s resident 
‘philosopher’, and Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann, a former student of Hayek’s, 
were working on a long-term counterattack, setting out capital-friendly 
rules for a globalisation no longer just of trade in goods but of 
intellectual property and services – an ‘economic constitution for the 
world’. They did so in close dialogue with Hayek, who was busy updating 
his ideas for the cybernetic age. In Law, Legislation and Liberty he 
insisted that, even though markets formed a spontaneous evolutionary 
order, they required a legal framework to function. In 1995, inspired by 
this vision, GATT was transformed into the WTO: dispute settlement 
bodies, modelled on the European Court of Justice, would adjust, and 
adjust to, the signals of a free trade cosmos. If the WTO fell short in 
practice, it was for a simple reason, Slobodian suggests: its profile 
was too high, providing anti-capitalist protesters with a clear target 
in Seattle in 1999. By this point, he has laid to rest one myth about 
neoliberalism: in its Genevan form, its ‘core value’ was not the freedom 
of the individual ‘but the interdependence of the whole’.

His book stops here, without examining neoliberalism’s refusal to fall 
after the crash of 2008, and its continued grip since then – a defiance 
of intellectual gravity that needs historical explanation. Why has its 
triumph proved so enduring? From fin-de-siècle Vienna to victory in the 
Cold War (and the moment when the 92-year-old Hayek stepped up to the 
White House to accept the presidential Medal of Freedom from George H.W. 
Bush), it may look as if neoliberalism won by force of argument. There 
are reasons to doubt this. Much of its rise as a pensée unique was due 
to the economic crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s, which we can 
now see it did little to resolve. By 1979, commodity prices had 
collapsed, and the Volcker Shock sent interest rates soaring: dollars 
flooded back to the US, and countries with heavy debts had little choice 
but to accept the terms imposed by the IMF and World Bank in order to 
service their obligations and stabilise their currencies.

Slobodian doesn’t have much to say about the phenomenal growth of global 
finance over the last forty years, or the role neoliberals played in it. 
But footloose capital has been the ultimate disciplinarian for 
governments looking to tax, redistribute, nationalise or devalue; the 
mere threat of bond market volatility is used to scare citizens from 
voting for such ‘reckless’ policies in the first place. It isn’t much 
comfort to look back to Bretton Woods as a contrast to the present 
situation. That system allowed for capital and currency controls, which 
Britain among others had sought, in order to avoid the speculation and 
capital flight of the interwar period and build the welfare state. But 
it was riddled with holes. By the 1950s, the City had found ways around 
it, welcoming (with Bank of England and Treasury help) the unregulated 
euro-dollar markets created by US deficits, which unleashed speculative 
waves against the gold-dollar standard, undermining Bretton Woods from 
within. The deregulatory dynamics of financialised capitalism arose from 
the competition for this business, poised between New York and London. 
Since 2008, no government has dared to restrain or even re-regulate the 
financial sector, and the fallout has been managed not only on its 
terms, in the form of bank bailouts and quantitative easing, but by the 
sector’s own personnel. Whatever taboos Trump has broken in the US, 
failing to hire former Wall Street executives to lead his economic team 
has not been one.

What lessons does Slobodian’s book hold for those who wish to break out 
of neoliberalism’s straitjacket? The Geneva School knew just what it 
wanted from international laws and institutions, above all in Europe. 
The same cannot be said for swathes of the left, for whom the idea of 
Europe remains shrouded in a benevolent mist. The image of the EU held 
by those who still hope to reverse the Brexit vote is rarely darkened by 
its actions, from the devastation of Greece under Troika-imposed 
austerity, to the stagnation of Italy, whose modest fiscal stimulus runs 
foul of Europe’s draconian deficit and debt rules, to the way it treats 
those who cross its southern and eastern borders. Membership of such a 
club may look preferable to exclusion from it, but it’s unclear why 
there should be much enthusiasm about the choice. Those committed to 
reforming the EU from the inside may be less complacent about the way it 
acts, but they seem just as hazy about what it is: not undemocratic, but 
anti-democratic; not a form of internationalism to be redirected in the 
interests of society at large, but a maze of legal fortifications built 
to evade and frustrate such designs. Marx described the workers as 
‘storming heaven’ during the Paris Commune; but what would it mean for 
citizens to take the European Commission or Central Bank? The antidote 
to neoliberalism on this scale is not technocracy with a human face, 
but, as a first step, what it has always feared most: state power, in 
the hands of ordinary people. Whether Tory-led Brexit will eventually 
lead to that is another question.





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