The Silent Heist – Privatisation of Common Goods and Accumulation by Dispossession

The Silent Erosion of Collective Ownership in the Neo-liberal Era

Sacha | Thoughts

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The Privatisation of Common Goods and Accumulation by Dispossession

For the last forty or so years, “neoliberal capitalism” has been the pervasive economic and political philosophy of our times.

Broadly speaking, neo-liberalism espouses free market principles, emphasising minimal state intervention in economic affairs, deregulation, and privatisation.

Its influence has steadily grown, permeating policies worldwide and shaping the trajectory of global economic development.

As a result, goods and services that once fell under the umbrella of common ownership are increasingly falling into the sphere of private capital.

This has had deep social and political ramifications, often changing the balance of power within societies.

As state control retreats, private entities gain substantial power and influence, sparking critical debates about the dynamics of democracy, power, and justice.

Yet, to fully understand this phenomenon, it is not enough to stop at privatisation. Another concept, largely hidden from mainstream discourse yet inextricably linked to privatisation, is ‘accumulation by dispossession’.

This refers to the continued concentration of wealth in the hands of a few through the dispossession of the many — an age-old process that has found new life in the neo-liberal era.

So, while the public sphere diminishes, private power grows, and the common wealth silently changes hands.

Unpacking Neo-Liberalism

Neoliberalism emerged as a counter-response in the post-World War II era to the dominant Keynesian consensus — its tendrils beginning to grip global policymaking by the latter half of the 20th century.

The core belief rested on the supposed inherent superiority of market mechanisms over any form of collective or state-driven decision-making.

The argument was clear: individual freedoms and prosperity flourish best within a framework of strong private property rights, free markets, and unfettered trade.

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Sacha | Thoughts

Sociologist and writer focused on analysing societal power dynamics and promoting positive social change