It Took 40 Years and Millions of Lives Destroyed for Elites to Admit That Neoliberalism Has Failed

Last week a research wing of the International Monetary Fund came out with a report admitting that neoliberalism has been a failure. The report, titled “Neoliberalism: Oversold?” is hopefully a sign of the ideology's death. They were only about 40 years late. As Naomi Klein tweeted, "So all the billionaires it created are going to give back their money, right?"


Many of the report’s findings which strike to the core of the ideology echo what critics and victims of neoliberalism have been saying for decades.

“Instead of delivering growth,” the report explains that neoliberal policies of austerity and lowered regulation for capital movement have in fact “increased inequality.” This inequality "might itself undercut growth..." and as a result, “policymakers should be more open to redistribution than they are."

However, the report leaves out a few notable items on neoliberalism’s history and impact.

The IMF suggests neoliberalism has been a failure. But it has worked very well for the global 1 percent, which was always the IMF and World Bank's intent. As Oxfam reported earlier this year, the wealthiest 1 percent in the world now have as much wealth as the rest of the planet’s population combined. The IMF report cites Chile as a case study for neoliberalism, but never mentions that the economic vision was applied in the country through the U.S.-backed Augusto Pinochet dictatorship—a major omission. 

Across Latin America, neoliberalism and state terror typically went hand in hand. The fearless Argentine journalist Rodolfo Walsh, in a 1977 Open Letter to the Argentine Military Junta, denounced the oppression of that regime, a dictatorship which orchestrated the murder and disappearance of over 30,000 people. Walsh wrote:

"These events, which stir the conscience of the civilized world, are not, however, the greatest suffering inflicted on the Argentinean people, nor the worst violation for human rights which you have committed. It is in the economic policy of this government where one discovers not only the explanation for the crimes, but a greater atrocity which punishes millions of human beings through planned misery....You only have to walk around greater Buenos Aires for a few hours to check the speed with which such a policy transforms the city into a 'shantytown' of ten million people."

This “planned misery,” as Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine vividly demonstrates, was the neoliberal agenda the IMF has pushed for decades.

The day after Walsh mailed the letter to the junta, he was captured by the regime and killed; then his body was burned and dumped into a river, one of neoliberalism’s millions of casualties.

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