Neoliberal zombies can’t explain early deaths

“The brain has apparently long since ceased functioning, but the limbs are still moving, and many of the defensive reflexes seem to be working too. The living dead of the free-market revolution continue to walk the earth, though with each resurrection their decidedly uncoordinated gait becomes even more erratic.”

Professor Jamie Peck

Professor Iain Buchan has highlighted the fact that young adults in the North of England are much more likely to experience premature death than their southern counterparts. This trend has triggered some debate among the British media. Since the publication of The Spirit Level, all the participants in the discussion should know about the correlation between inequality and poor health. Nevertheless, apparent perplexity about causation haunts sections of the neoliberal establishment. Surely their favourite policies cannot be culpable for suicides or drug addiction?

Many years after their international economic crisis, unreconstructed neoliberals are turning a blind eye to the real consequences of their policy-making. Professor Peck was quick to detect that the international elite was unwilling to do much to alter the system which had required massive bailouts. The banks may have more capital, the regulators might be more alert, but the enthusiasm for privatization and cuts still burns.

There is of course a rush to examine individual behaviour. But the statistics show a grim pattern which indicates that over forty years of neoliberal excess is taking its toll. Of course, neoliberalism is a complex and contradictory ideology, which has been applied in distinctive phases, but its role in dividing British society is too blatant to ignore.

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