the while the G8 kept trying to reinvent itself, at its 2007 summit in Germanyclaiming to be the right institution to solve the climate crisis. At the nationalregulatory level, too, central institutions, including national governments, were losinglegitimacy: in the global North, the disappearance of anything that could berecognised as ‘Social Democracy’ meant that hardly any of the major parties wereseen as representing the interests of those disadvantaged by neoliberalism. In theUnited States, the author of a recent report on trust in public institutions is quoted inthe
as saying that “belief in authority has collapsed”, and that “over the last few years the trust between the public and the elites has completelycollapsed”. As a result, “the public is much less willing to trust corporate leaders’advice on the national economic interest.”
To be sure, such a crisis does not necessarily lead to emancipatory political action – itcan just as well lead on the one hand to apathy and the decomposition of collective political actors, on the other hand to an ugly politics of fear and scapegoating. But italso does provide an opening for ideas of social and ecological transformation. Theincreasingly unequal distribution of incomes and wealth during the neoliberal era,coupled with the non-fulfilment of the free marketeers’ central ideological promises(efficient markets, trickle down…) had produced a serious crisis of legitimacy. And
is only stable in the medium term if it is seen as legitimate by its subjects.
But the legitimation crisis did not slow down the economics of neoliberalism much: privatisation, commodification, enclosure, they were all proceeding apace. Althoughhere, too, trouble was brewing.
The accumulation crisis
And so we return to the economic crisis rocking the world economy, hitting