Article Reviews: The Neoliberal Political Economy

The article “Enclosing the Global Commons…” by Corson and MacDonald approaches green grabbing by examining the CBD – a top-of-the-hierarchy organization which perpetuates and is embedded in the current neoliberal political economy. Another article, “The Power to Plunder…” by Mollett, directly critiques focusing top-tier and systemic aspects of land grabbing and the loss of indigenous lands. She instead describes her approach…

…as focusing on local, micro aspects and stories; with the intention to remind us all of the racial aspects of land grabbing. While I find the main purpose of this piece to be highly relevant, I took Mollett as devaluing work which uses the language of, attempts to operate within and addresses the structure of the neoliberal monopolistic capitalist system at all. I assume it is presumed that a writer or audience who has chosen to side with “the poor” and “indigenous”, would already be sadly aware of racial dynamics. I may be wrong. One powerful sentence was, “[t]hat ‘the zambo are nomadic’ not only rendered them indolent in state imaginations, but simultaneously recognized sedentary agriculture as a sign of civilization, and the ideal”. She seeks to dismantle the ‘logics’.

The greatest difference is that Carson and Macdonald assert that the current system is new, while Mollett asserts it is the same old pile. Both articles seem to have similar goals (seemingly disparate in the current political economy they describe): land rights for the original inhabitants, redistribution of (land) wealth to the poor, ecological stability and promotion of it as truly respected, the alleviation of hunger and water scarcity, and the improvement of dignity, autonomy and quality of life for all.  In Carson and Macdonald’s article, the focus was the top of the power structure – naming individually and as organizations the most powerful people who are responsible for this land theft and side-winding dealing towards more neoliberal modes of operation. They pose status quo UN Conventions as a potential threat to this enemy. They even end the essay with a name: Bjorn Stigson. (The third and second to last words, close enough). They also tend to use more economic/poli-econ language – including but not limited to both capitalist and communist word use. Although, both articles use the contemporary academic abstractification flourishes like “logics”, “spaces”, “in time and space”, etc. This brings me to the point: in the pursuit of these goals, is the strengthening of the inclusive population as to wield the state effectively, best achieved through political (and military) empowerment, or is it through compromise with neoliberalism?