Natural resources have been in the news a lot recently, if you’ve got an eye out for that kind of thing. Guatemala has declared a state of emergency in the South-East of the country after protests erupted over a proposed silver mine. A recent report by Canadian NGO Mining Watch has shed some light on the role of the Canadian Embassy in Mexico played in supporting Blackfire Ltd., a company that was implicated in bribing local officials and allegedly had a role in the murder of a local anti-mining activist. Meanwhile Peru has announced that it has re-evaluated its methods of dealing with anti-mining activity after massive protests led to a number of deaths last year. Apparently the government will now place a greater emphasis on mediation rather than the more repressive measures used to deal with conflict in the past. Finally, Foreign Affairs and the BBC have given a lot of coverage to Mongolia’s emergence as mining’s “final frontier” and subsequent tensions between Rio Tinto, the government and local communities.
What’s Right with What’s Left?
European social democracy is in crisis. Rather than being the prime challenger of the neoliberal consensus, social democratic parties are struggling with their Third Way legacy. Increasingly alienated from its traditional social base having given in to the neoliberal status quo, social democracy is in danger of becoming an anachronism.
Colin Hay distinguishes between two phases of neoliberalism, ‘normative neoliberalism’ and ‘normalized neoliberalism’ (2007, 98) In the first phase, in the late 1970s and 1980s, neoliberalism was advocated by politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to be the answer to the inefficient economic management of the Keynesian model that marked the post-war period. The second phase of ‘normalized neoliberalism’ signifies its triumph as it was able to solidify its school of thought into a widespread consensus. A particular strength of neoliberalism is that it successfully advocated its inevitability and its necessitarian character.