Re: Occupy Toronto, meet Miss Guided
editorial» oct. 19, 2011
The neoliberal agenda does not comprise of a singular change
A few weeks ago, Yuni Kim’s article “Occupy Toronto, meet Miss Guided” came to my attention because of the political ignorance and irony running throughout the article. After taking a look around St. James Park, she reported that she “couldn’t find a single moment when the protesters came together collectively to unite behind one cause.” True, the Occupy Toronto movement did not have a single unifying message.
But the reason is not so much that the protesters were “misguided” or unsure of what they were protesting about, but rather that the effects of the neoliberal agenda and the retrenchment of the Canadian welfare state since the 1980s have had very far-reaching and extensive effects on working-class people. To be clear, this was not a development that only occurred in Canada; most Western countries took a turn toward the right in the 1980s and state leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher led the way in implementing neoliberal policies. The neoliberal agenda does not comprise a single change or two, but a vast array of changes, such as trade liberalization, welfare retrenchment, deregulation of financial enterprises, decentralization of the state and privatization of state enterprises, to name but a few.
Yuni Kim wrote that she met Occupy Toronto protestors at St. James Park fighting for causes ranging from “the destruction of the environment” to “the ignorance of First Nations’ rights”. The causes that Occupy Toronto protesters were championing would seem quite disparate and incompatible at first glance, but they are in fact very much related because they are all effects of the implementation of neoliberal policies since the 1980s.
Neoclassical economic theorists all too often defend neoliberal policies by articulating that they achieve efficiency in the economic process. I thought it was very ironic that Yuni Kim used the word “effective” in her closing paragraph, because just like proponents of neoclassical economic theory, she wanted the message of the Occupy movement to be efficient. Perhaps the irony of her own words was lost on her.