Neoliberal Globalization: A New Religious Faith

Using Gramsci’s syntax, ideology exists when “a given class succeeds in presenting and having the conditions of its existence and of its class development accepted as a universal principle, as a conception of the world, as a religion.”

The culmination outlined by Gramsci is entirely relevant if reference is made to the ideology of globalization as a nature that has always been given, irreversible and physiological (globalismus sive natura). In the framework of the post-1989 New World Order and what has been defined as “the great chessboard,” it is presented to all intents and purposes as a “universal principle,” because it is indistinctly accepted in all latitudes of the planet (it is what we could call the globalization of the concept of globalization) and, at the same time, it is also embraced by the pole of the dominated, who should oppose it with the utmost firmness. It is presented as an unquestionable and universally valid truth, which only asks to be ratified and accepted according to the modality of an adaequatio that is both cognitive and political.

Globalization shows itself then, as a “conception of the world;” that is, as an articulated and all-embracing system, because it has been structured in the form of a unitary and systematic perspective, centered on denationalizing cosmopolitanism and on the elimination of all material and immaterial limitations to the free circulation of commodities and marketized persons, to the flows of liquid financial capital and to the infinite extension of the competitive interests of the dominant classes.

Finally, it takes the form of a “religion,” because it is increasingly experienced as an unquestionable faith and largely situated beyond the principles of rational Socratic discussion: whoever does not unthinkingly and with fideistic credentials accept the new globalized order will be immediately ostracized, silenced and stigmatized by the language police and the gendarmes of thought as a heretic or as an infidel, dangerously threatening the stability of the mundialist catechesis and its main articles of faith (free movement, integral openness of all material and immaterial reality, borderless competitiveness, etc. ). Globalization thus coincides with the new idolatrous monotheism of the global market, typical of an era that has ceased to believe in God, but not in capital.

In general terms, globalization is nothing other than the theory that describes, reflects and, in turn, prescribes and glorifies the post-Westphalian class-based New World Order, which emerged and stabilized after 1989 and—to take up Lasch’s formula—was ideologically elevated to the rank of true and only heaven. Such is the world entirely subsumed under capital and under the American-centric imperialism of liberalized private capital markets, with collateral export of free market democracy and free desire, and of the anthropology of homo cosmopoliticus.

The symbolic power of the concept of globalization is so invasive that it literally makes it impossible for anyone who dares to question the concept to gain access to public discourse. It is, in this sense, more akin to a religion of obligatory creed than to a theory subject to free discussion and hermeneutics embedded in dialogical reason.

Through categories that have become cornerstones of the capitalist neo-language, any attempt to curb the invasiveness of the market and to challenge the absolute domination of the globalized and American-centric economy is demonized as “totalitarianism,” “fascism,” “Stalinism,” or even “rojipardismo” (red-fascism), the diabolical synthesis of all three. Liberal fundamentalism and globalist free-market totalitarianism also evidence their inability to admit, even ex hypothesi, the theoretical possibility of alternative modes of existence and production.

Any idea of a possible control of the economy and of an eventual regulation of the market and of the open society (with built-in financial despotism) would lead unfailingly, according to the title of a well-known study by Hayek, towards “The Road to Serfdom.” Hayek states it without euphemism: “socialism means slavery.”

Obviously, the theorem of von Hayek and his acolytes does not take into account the fact that totalitarianism is not only the result of political planning, but can also be the consequence of a private competitive action of political rules. In the present Europe, by the way, the danger is not to be identified with nationalism and the return of traditional totalitarianisms, but rather with Hayekian market liberalism and the invisible violence of the subtle club of depoliticized economics.

It is therefore imperative to decolonize the imaginary of current hegemonic conceptions of globalization and try to redefine its contents in an alternative way. To this end, it is necessary to re-understand Marxian social relations as mobile and conflictive, where the gaze flooded with ideology only registers things that are inert and aseptic, rigid and immutable.

In other words, it is necessary to deconstruct the hegemonic image of globalization, showing its non-neutral but class-based character.

When analyzed from the perspective of the globalist ruling classes, globalization may indeed appear enthusiastic and very worthy of praise and empowerment.

For example, Amartya Sen celebrates it most insistently for its greater efficiency in the international division of labor, for the fall in production costs, for the exponential increase in productivity and—to a decidedly more questionable extent—for the reduction of poverty and the general improvement in living and working conditions.

Suffice it to recall, at a first glance at the new millennium, that Europe has 20 million unemployed, 50 million poor and 5 million homeless; and all this while, in the last twenty years in the same Europe, total income has risen by between 50 and 70 percent.

This confirms, in a way that is difficult to refute, the class character of globalization and the progress it generates. From the perspective of the dominated (and thus seen “from below”), it is identified with the very concrete hell of the new technocapitalist power relation, which was consolidated on a planetary scale after 1989 with the intensification of exploitation and commodification, of classism and imperialism.

To this hermeneutic duplicity, which presides over the duplicity of classes in the very fractured post-1989 context, returns the endless debate that has interested and continues to interest the two foci of this frontal contraposition: on the one hand, the apologists of globalization; and on the other, those engaged in the elaboration of the cahier de doléances du mondialisme.

The former (who as a whole can be called “globalists,” despite the kaleidoscopic plurality of their positions), extol the virtues of making the world a market. On the contrary, the latter (who only partially coincide with those whom the public debate has baptized with the name of “sovereigntists”), emphasize the contradictions and the eminently regressive character with respect to the previous framework centered on national sovereignties.

In short, and without delving into the intricacies of a debate that is practically unmanageable because of the quantity of content and diversity of approaches, the panegyrists of globalism insist on how globalization extends the industrial revolution, progress and the conquests of the West to the entire world; or, in other words, how it “universalizes” the achievements of a humanity somehow understood as “superior” and, therefore, entitled to organize the “single file” of linear development of all the peoples of the planet.

Even the most soberly skeptical authors on the axiological value of globalization, such as Stiglitz, seem to suffer from a magnetic and ultimately unjustified attraction to the work of turning the world into a market. In the view of Stiglitz and his reformist optimism, this process, which at the same time also “planetarizes” capitalist inequality and misery, deserves not to be abandoned because of the developments and changes to which it might give rise.

Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the IntellectualThe Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre ReturnsThis article appears courtesy of Posmodernia.

Featured: Playing Chess. Cafe “Dominic,” St. Petersburg, by Hugo Karlovich Bakmanson; painted in 1909.