The authoritarian dimensions of neoliberalism in Queensland

The next meeting of the 17 Group will occur on Wednesday the 6th of August at 7 pm in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End. It will discuss some of the main features of the Newman Government under the title “The authoritarian dimensions of neoliberalism in Queensland”. The speaker will be Dr Chris Butler.

Chris has supplied this summary:

The authoritarian dimensions of neoliberalism in Queensland

Abstract: Since the late 1970s, processes of neoliberalisation have achieved a dominant status for institutional arrangements which promote unfettered markets, the privatisation of collectively owned assets and the defence of private property rights. The state has played a crucial role in the design and implementation of these processes, demonstrating that the exercise of public power under neoliberalism is far removed from the classical liberal utopia of the nightwatchman state. On the contrary, contemporary neoliberal governance is premised on an implicit need for the reorganisation and strengthening of state power. This has been apparent in the areas of industrial relations, the provision of social services and public education, the politics of urban governance and in the administration of the criminal justice system. A prominent recent example is the Queensland government’s introduction in 2013 of unprecedented and punitive measures targeting motorcycle club members. Rather than understanding these developments as the expression of short-term tactical calculations for electoral gain, I will argue that they illuminate the authoritarian dimensions of contemporary forms of neoliberal governance.

Biographical notes:

Chris Butler teaches at the Griffith Law School and works in the areas of law and social theory, urban studies and critical approaches to state power. His book Henri Lefebvre: Spatial Politics, Everyday Life and the Right to the City was recently published by Routledge.

Leon, consulted as usual, and as usual pessimistically invited, was at least intellectually excited enough to climb the ladder in his library and take down a volume from high up in the early 20s section of his calf-bound volumes of Collected Works. “This requires much context, a long introductory discussion. Other very complex preliminary issues arise here” he said. Off the ladder and putting on those familiar spectacles,“Kondratieff’s theory of long cycles of the conjuncture (Kondratieff 1992, 1998),” he abruptly began. “Partly right, for there is indeed an undulatory process in economic accumulation, but partly very wrong. Anticipated and refuted by me in 1923. Listen to this”. Then, as we made our usual frustrated way toward the door, he began to read in a trance-making voice:

We observe in history that homogeneous cycles are grouped in a series. Entire epochs of capitalist development exist when a number of cycles is characterized by sharply delineated booms and weak, shortlived crises. As a result we have a sharply rising movement of the basic curve of capitalist development. There are epochs of stagnation when this curve, while passing through partial cyclical oscillations, remains on approximately the same level for decades. And finally, during certain historical periods the basic curve, while passing as always through cyclical oscillations, dips downward as a whole, signalling the decline of productive forces …

Accuse us of impatience if you like, but we couldn’t wait for this to get to 2014 and this provincial outpost of global neoliberalism. So back we went to 6/20 Drury. See you there, Leonless yet resigned.

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