BELIEVE it or not, that is the title of an article published not in some leftist magazine but recently in the magazine of the top newspaper of US capitalism, the New York Times.
In our country, the belief in the free-trade ideology—and its larger framework of unrestrained capitalism and foreign investments—is a dogma nearly on par with that of Catholicism. That ideology, called neoliberalism, has been the canon of every economic management team since Marcos, although the strongman himself wasn’t an adherent of it and adopted many statist economic policies.
Fidel Ramos was an especially ardent believer of the ideology, proud of his rallying cry for it: “privatization, deregulation and liberalization.” This has only resulted among other things in the drastic weakening of our manufacturing and cash crop sectors—when our tariff floodgates were opened to the tsunami of Chinese products—and in the loss to profit-hungry capitalists of our public utility and other strategic industries.
President Duterte’s economic-planning secretary Ernesto Pernia is incontrovertibly a free-trader, since he had spent his academic career at the UP School of Economics, the champion of neoliberalist thought in this country.
However, I don’t think President Duterte, with his demonstrated conviction that a state must be an activist one whose primordial role is to serve the people—and not the markets—and his strong sense of nationalism can ever believe in neoliberalism. That is probably the one advantage we have now, that this president comes from a rough-and-tumble frontier city far from the metropolis, where abstractions are eaten alive by reality.
I am devoting two of my columns to reprint this very informative February 8 article from the New York Times magazine, written by Pankaj Mishra, which debunks neoliberalism not in an abstract manner but by showing that Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and more recently, China, developed their economies by rejecting neoliberal ideology—which we have so stupidly embraced.