The received wisdom in advanced capitalist societies is that there still exists an organic “civil society sector” in which institutions form autonomously and come together to manifest the interests and will of citizens. The fable has it that the boundaries of this sector are respected by actors from government and the “private sector,” leaving a safe space for NGOs and nonprofits to advocate for things like human rights, free speech, and accountable government.
This sounds like a great idea. But if it was ever true, it has not been for decades. Since at least the 1970s, authentic actors like unions and churches have folded under a sustained assault by free-market statism, transforming “civil society” into a buyer’s market for political factions and corporate interests looking to exert influence at arm’s length. The last forty years has seen a huge proliferation of think tanks and political NGOs whose purpose, beneath all the verbiage, is to execute political agendas by proxy.
The neoliberal era of the last generation is dedicated, in principle, to destroying the only means we have to defend ourselves from destruction. It's not called that, what it's called is shifting decision-making from public institutions, which at least in principle are under public influence, to private institutions which are immune from public control, in principle. That's called "shifting to the market", it's under the rhetoric of freedom, but it just means servitude. It means servitude to unaccountable private institutions.
The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations.
If you have no constraints on capital flow, then you can attack currencies freely.
That creates what international economists sometimes call a virtual parliament of investors and lenders who can - I'm quoting from technical literature - "carry out a moment by moment referrendum on government policies". And if they think the policies are irrational, they can vote against them by capital flight or by attacks on the currencies, and so on. Policies that are irrational are, by definition, those that benefit people, but don't improve profit and market access and so on. And therefore, governments face what's called a dual constituency - their own population, and the virtual parliament.
And the virtual parliament usually wins, especially in poorer countries. The rich countries, it was modulated, they didn't accept the neo-liberal package as completely as say, Latin America, but to the extent that they did, the effects are predictable. And the same is true of other elements of neo-liberal programs. Take say, privitization, which became a mantra. Well, by definition, privitization undercuts democracy. It takes something out of the public arena and puts it into the hands of unaccountable private tyrannies that are created and appointed by the state, which is what corporations are.
The numbers in a billionaire's net worth include no contextual information - nothing about the lives damaged, the jobs lost, the opportunities eliminated, the time wasted, the scamming, cheating, and manipulation, the ecological support structures destroyed.
Business and personal accounting systems deny, ignore, and suppress those contextual details. So does the "investment" industry. And that makes a mockery of "price discovery" because the nominal market price always excludes critical externalities.
It's possible to become extremely rich without negative externalities. It just happens to be incredibly difficult. The looser your ethics, and the less empathy you have for competitors and victims, the easier it gets. It's a feedback loop which rewards unethical behaviour.
Essentially, money itself is a form of morality-laundering. It's an integer when it should be a complete trace through a common contextual event map.