‘Neoliberalism’ and ‘Capitalism’ – What’s the difference?

A short but thorough explanation by the great cultural and political theorist Professor Jeremy Gilbert who describes Capitalism as an economic practice and Neoliberalism as a philosophy about how societies in which that practice prevails should be managed.

My personal experience of living in a neoliberal world for over four decades has led me to believe that it views and uses the functions of capitalism in a narrow and deterministic way, assuming predictable human reactions to the needs, wants, and desires of everyday life. The microeconomic theory of modeling, as promoted by neoliberal economist Milton Friedman, would be rendered obsolete if we were to incorporate the infinite variables of empathy, love, and charity. By judging humans solely as seekers of utility, status, and wealth, neoliberalism appears more aligned with the mercantile class of the 17th and 18th centuries, which used their ill-gotten wealth to manipulate markets and determine value solely by the final price point, ignoring the actual production costs.

This view of human behavior contrasts with the classical economists, such as Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, and Mill, who recognized the corruption of markets by the mercantile class and developed theories in opposition to this. However, I do not promote classical economic theory but rather recognize that it arose from lived experiences and observations of market corruption.

In addition to market manipulation, neoliberal philosophy often involves lobbying governments, exploiting weaker nations and individuals, and holding the belief that “all is fair in the love and war” of trade. Such practices are prevalent in the current “evil corps” that dominate our lives and harm the planet. Defining neoliberalism solely within the context of classical economic theories is insufficient, as it fails to account for the present reality of corporate-lobbied corridors of government, tax avoidance mechanisms, and exploitation of less capable countries and individuals for the sole purpose of wealth accumulation beyond what is necessary.

I currently lean towards Keynesian economics, which embraces the idea of uncertainty and a focus on achieving the “good life.” Nonetheless, I acknowledge the relevance of Marx’s critique of capitalism, particularly concerning the exploitation of surplus value.

“Please read below to see the difference between an angry amateur and a nuanced professional”.


I wrote this in response to a discussion  of this theme on the NEON list. Thinking it was both too long for an email list and might be a useful resource for some people, I posted it here…
What’s the difference between ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘capitalism’ 
I think that neoliberalism and capitalism are simply different types of thing.

View original post 1,369 more words

Rent Control Paradox No 1

Undoubtedly the first of many seemingly paradoxical issues concerning the difficulty (ie the monied establishment of whom Rent Control would affect the most in a negative sense) to even implementing Rent Control (RC) and thus a refusal at the first hurdle.

This post is a reply to question that I had no time to answer at the end of a presentation on the basic background of the present housing model and why unregulated private purchase and rents are now completely market led under the finasialation of the mortgage debt market and the now commodified living space, we call home.

The question is an obvious first hurdle to even thinking about an introduction of private RC,

Slightly paraphrased question from my classmate Mark;

“How are you going to get an acceptance from small private landlords let alone institutions” ?

My answer which has come from several ideas that I have been working on for a few years that I recorded as an end goal based on a fantasy Beveridge 2.0 report, including the ‘five giants’ ( think the 5 elephants in the room) as of a consequence of a 21st century established neoliberal society, namely the UK.
Very broad, but the main point being how do you convince that the stick of RC will benefit the nervous middle (50-90 percentile) and suspicious asset wealthy (top 10%).

According to the behavioral economist Kahneman we all suffer a greater bias towards loss (known as ‘loss aversion’) than gain, namely, ie it plays on our minds. At first this seems a good thing, as being over cautious must be good, as common sense would say that being attuned on a financial decision is wise, but alas this can in some circumstance lead to poor judgment, as shown in the gambler chasing the initial debt, whilst being blind to the option of just accepting a loss and walking away (Kahneman 2011). An AI algorithm would of course weigh up the odds and take the initial loss, if the odds stated were the best course of action to its overall long term gain.
Humans struggle with this due the emotion of the initial loss, we all do it as a fast thinking reaction.

So with this in mind to counter the loss we need a greater gain, thus in this report I figured four carrots to the one stick, this is so important to creating societal jewels (ie NHS) that can be justified to the majority over the small minority of our natural self seeking to a short term initial loss ( and we will see in the paper all benefit long term, again the NHS).

Though it should be stated that any welfare fiscal spending cannot show a direct profit by its very nature it’s once, twice, thrice removed and the measurement of GDP growth is only seen as a generation is cared and educated from birth to grave, kept healthy, has food, shelter, warmth and no fear of retirement so as to concentrate on producing the measurable wealth.

Not all can be commodified for direct profit, but what can should be able to produce unhindered by welfare concerns. Thus, “No Apron Strings

Yes, it’s a bit uptiopian, but so was male and female emancipation, free university, health and safety in the workplace, the 5 day week, paid holidays within PAYE etc.

Absolute must reads for park and urban design!

The Social life of small Urban Places

The Movie

The film quality of the movie at the start is rather poor, but stick with it, as it’s about the content.

Made in 1980 so some amusement can be gained from the conservative fashion, but the main point is the simplicity of how humans react in public space and what makes a space successful or not.
Note; at the end of the film recommendations are made to the New York City planning control. The effects can been seen today, think of how many areas have movable chairs and how the atmosphere of the city has changed from many complete no go areas, to a city that now feels much safer, at ease and sittable!

“The present issue (as with all popular cities) is ‘gentrification’ when regeneration arrives”

The present issue (as with all popular cities) is gentrification, the meat-packing district has been changed by the High Line Park which is great, but the lower paid workers who service the area are being pushed out by unregulated high rents, all cause and effect. So what ever we do as designers/planners we have to always look to the bigger picture, build a frame-work for flexibility so area can evolve without expensive re-builds and social cleansing.

High Line: A Quick Overview from Grant Beerling on Vimeo.

“I so love this little film, Holly Whyte’s voice reminds me of my wise grandparents, thoughtful, never rushing a sentence, understanding the power of a pause and the simple profound observations of the world around them.”


Some Books,Absolutely must be on your shelf

The Social life of small Urban Places

Author William H Whyte


A good review blog of the book. An essential for anyone who wants to understand Why some one would possibly want to visit and stay in your local park….Ignore this book at your peril. Based most of my final degree design on his proven observations

“A park without people is a field”


The Wit and Wisdom of Holly Whyte 

Gathered by Albert LaFarge 

Continue reading

Lessons from a Dystopian landscape

A future landscape?

A fantastic video of a future reality set within the confines of a virtual world within a dystopian landscape. A good lesson in cause and effect


A thought process

Learning from our past

A thought that keeps coming to mind is that the study of a dystopian landscape is possibly more important than a proposed utopian dream scape, as virtually all the designs where originally designed with utopian ideals, (political, social, economic etc), but now often regarded as dystopian, often mis-judged (by present day judgement) and ugly. Some mistakes where made through focussing on one area i.e. large scale plan, and forgetting human scale/perspective, modernism to a tee. So who is to say we are not mis-judged? Looking at perceived failures with a narrow ascetic value of fashion for example, thus a lot of perspectives need to be taken into consideration with the avoidance of presumption of present day wisdom over the dreams of the birth of the idea. Also not taking into account changes that created a conflict along the time line from conception to the present moment of judgement to what may seem’s a ruined space. So the question is what has changed? Often we are too quick to write a off a space without fully understanding its long term aim. Thats not saying mistakes have not been made, but not to make the same mistake again due to a poorly thought out process only taking in present day fashions into consideration.

It will always come back to adoption of space by the people who live in the area. Why should anybody want to live here? At its base level what will me and my family gain? What is the core of any community? On questioning some residents on The Isle Dogs, London (now re-developed, but issues of the local working class having no relevant jobs to their skill set or if there is any work then the jobs are often with no prospects of promotion or further training ( or self employed under the tax radar thus trapped). It became clear that gentrification had pushed out the old community of seeing the place as home leaving them with no identity and thus no sense of place leading to non engagement, which eventually leads to the ‘I have nothing to loose attitude’ were the rot of crime and vandalism eats into the core of the community. So all might look rosy, but get below the skin. 
North Woolwich has the same problems though yet to be developed. The loss of the Docks caused a complete loss of identity to the community. Any sense of ‘pride of place’ is gone. If you have no job, hope of employment or low skilled with no future training, then the most beautiful park is not going to lift the spirits of a down beaten soul. If you want to understand more listen to ‘The Message’ by ‘Grand Masterflash and the Furious 5;


When a couple of life long residents were asked if they could have anything as part of a redevelopment what would it be, as quick as a flash, work, not just any work, but skilled work with training to bring back a pride in the individual and provide prospects and thus investment of the individual back into the area. So Work has to be at the core, as a means not only earn a living from the landscape, but create an identity of place to the resident, wanting to stay and raise a family and invest emotionally to the place. Then a park that is beautiful to the designer/visitor will have so much more meaning and beauty to the residents, whatever the income. Hope and prospects are an empty politicians promise unless there is a long term plan to deliver. So the Joseph Rowntree  commission report sums up various European dockside redevelopments which we can learn from;
Without a doubt a must read document for all who want to bring prosperity and ‘the of spirit of place’ to a space, so all who reside have a future of substance and prospect.
Framework rather than strict rules so adaption can occur as employment styles change, technology, community that adopts the as the space changes, global warming, political change, transport change (battery boosted bicycles), source energy (i.e. Fusion, when this comes on line it will be a World changer, squeezing two forms of Hydrogen atoms (heavy and heavy heavy) together to produce Helium plus a proton and energy (1 gallon of water= 300 gallons of petrol), even though some web sites say there is no waste product this is not entirely true as a radioactive product is produced, but through reprocessing it can be used to re-fuel and have a short half life (30 years instead of 24,000 years this is what happens in present re-processing plants for Fission waste) and less obvious types of employment moving into areo-space, heavy industry (which may comeback to theses shores as other countries become less competitive) Art, etc. 
Garden Design and Landscape Architecture
So what has the above got to do with our industry, well we no longer live a bubble as an industry. Design crosses platforms and inspiration can come from anywhere. So as the term ‘Garden Cities’ have come back into vogue (though I suspect those who use don’t understand the history of the movement) this is not just the property of Architects and town planners or even Landscape Architects/Garden Designers, but of designers who have a passion for people and the built landscape that they live in. 
Anyway you get my train of thought, we can’t entirely future proof our spaces, but we can leave room for future development that will always occur, ‘as this is our nature’. The beauty of humanity is its messiness as well as its order, both have a place and should be celebrated, so decay as well as pristine should be built in/admired…… At what point does decay turn from an eyesore to nostalgic ruins? Or any style come to think of it. Two Generations? I like modernists buildings from the 1930-50’s ( I was born in 1964) especially underground stations/Tunbridge wells main Civic Centre, I really dislike the Pastiche post modern buildings of the 80-90’s, not one thing or another, both were designed with the best of intentions, so a generational view can have an effect and which generation is in the driving seat. 

 ‘The Sprit of 45’  

Worth seeing the whole film to understand why Labour got in with such a land slide and 180 degree opposite plan to the previous generations and why Margret Thatcher turned it back again.
What next? We are still suffering from the big bang and all the consequences of short termism, the breaking up of unions (divide and rule), selling off of Natural Monopolies under the guise of competition. Capitalism has a hold, know one actually believes there is an alternative, but all the time the Press Barons hold the keys to our politicians it will be hard to unite, lets hope we don’t need war to unite us or extreme poverty, what ever happens it will be bottom up as it was in 1945.




First of all a quote,

Doctor Albert Einstein. A journalist showed him a picture of a tree growing inside an abandoned warehouse with the smallest bit of sun beaming down on it, and said doesn’t this beauty prove the existence of god, his reply, “the planet does not need us, it is us that needs the planet.”

Honesty is always the best policy, so really didn’t know what the word meant so looked it up;

zeitgeist |ˈtsītˌgīst; ˈzīt-|noun [in sing. ]the defining spirit or mood of a particular period of history as shown by the ideas and beliefs of the time the story captured the zeitgeist of the late 1960s.ORIGIN mid 19th cent.: from German Zeitgeist, from Zeit time’ Geist spirit.’
Ok so that cleared up.The Storey so far….My beloved LX3 Panasonic camera is going wrong, and being the suspicious person that I am, immediately thought’ ‘built in obsolescence.‘ So i googled it just for fun.Well found some great links on you tubehttp://youtu.be/N2KLyYKJGk0Planned ObsolescenceThis video really explains the theroy pefectly, especially the light bulb that is still working after over a 100 years!!!!!So what is going on???So on my previous blog I went into the idea of Desire over Need, thanks to Edward Bernays( http://felixfatfunk.blogspot.com/2010/11/psycology-of-crowd.html ). This really goes into the corporate company cartels that arose to create false markets, due to product failure after a period of time (just long enough to keep brand loyalty ), so that we purchase again and thus keep the ‘consumer’ model going. So yes we know that, but the depth of the roots of this idea are really frightening, and thus lead to MASS waste/Landfill/ moved to third world countries, who really pay the price. No thought of finite resources, only the support of the blaoted market economy that needs growth at all costs.I have argued strongly against zero growth in the past due to the spirit of human evolution. Parents wanting their off spring to have a better life than themselves. So not wanting a dictatorial regiem (grew up in the Cold War) growth is ‘Evolution’. But not the monterist view which relies of an ever increasing debt on money that was printed out of nothing in the first place.Its now called ‘Product Life cycle’ just imagine an aircraft failing after a year, or a communication satellite (that has a life of 25years ) breaking down before its ‘life cycle’. ATM machines are old and very rarely fail, yet computers fail after 3+ years. The best example is the old telephone system, when it was owned by the telephone company, the phones lasted forever, as coming out to service them would cost money, now, mobile handsets are changed between 12-24 months, still don’t believe it goes on? I have had two Sony camera’s fail after 2 years to the day virtually, the reason? A particular glue that dry’s out causing failure, forums are full of dissatisfied customers , Sony ignore it knowing its a numbers game. They are big enough to take bad press and and they know that in the end we will get tired and buy another camera. Though as for me I won’y buy another Sony product.  This would not happen if we were truly serious about sustainability.Built to last? Cartels in the market and Governments won’t accept it as the trap of the Monetarist model needs to have growth to pay the ever increasing debt of the previous generation. It is legalised Pyramid selling.Note;You Tube’s embedding not working, so click on link.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5DCwN28y8o&feature=related

↵ Use original player
← Replay

Note: The Chip for failure!!!!!! Fact not fiction. In all our printers and computers.

‘The Man in the White Suit’

This Film is a hoot, but opens the can of worms that is the short term view of employer and employee due to the system that needs the flow of capital, A real classic film.


So the main event

So linked onto this movie, now I am sure most of you are aware of this movie (I wasn’t ), but if not, its free on You Tube its 2h 40 mins long (for good reason) and a must watch if you really want to understand the big picture of true sustainability. Rather than a fringe touchy feely thing. The core or big picture has to be tackled other wise the status quo will remain.

I have long held the belief that debt is what controls 95% of us, the basic theory being, a debt ridden population needs to service that debt, so employers can  easily enslave people to a wage packet, and when times are really hard they don’t have to increase wages, as the saying goes ‘you pay just enough to stop people leaving.’

As Landscape Architects we have an opportunity to create environments that in their planning can to a degree, effect the populous that live there (but only to a degree, not entirely, don’t make the mistake of the Modernists).

Rather than going through the strengths and weaknesses of the film (some area’s that I feel area bit weak are at the beginning and the utopian view at the end especially the actual design, Le Corbusier would of loved it, Tom Turner would hate it). How can I put it into some kind of context for my final proposal? Bottom line still seems to be ‘Hope, social mobility, tackling the issue of finite resources with a structured approach of energy consumption, place-making, breaking the monopoly of landownership by corporations/landlords especially via the theft of Leasehold and a real alternative to the present norm of build ’em cheap/run with a profit, philosophy.




I am in the fortunate postion of owning just enough to get by and not being completely flattened by ‘the man’. So i don’t have the pressure of being a complete wage slave, thus choice ,freedom etc.

In my latter years my little pearl of wisdom, is that the consumer society needs us to judge each other constantly, do we measure up? am i fitting in? what will people think, the trick is to not judge others… just accept or even ignore. Then when others judge you badly etc, its not in your value system and thus you can be free of the oppression of being judged. So what is my value system? Using my talent for the betterment of others.
Six plus billion people on the planet and if, so and so thinks blah blah.. really does it matter? Just get on with doing what you were/are designed for. We are all less that perfect and have plenty of ‘fails’ in our cupboard, so the pointing of a finger always has three pointing back for good reason ( and those who have a ‘Faith’ the thumb pointing to Heavenly direction).

A Blue Meanie

Escape from reality

Art and context

Well its the 30th of December and I can’t stop thinking about the Art and Context module, work submitted etc so in theory I could just stop and carry on some kind of formulaic way or process. Unfortunately too many questions have arisen and lines of thought unresolved. So I can’t and won’t put it down until I am bit further down the road. Pandoras box has been opened.

Personal Conclusions or others?

I have to raise this point as the process can take two routes 1) read loads of other books to reach some kind of conclusion  or 2) sit and think. 
Both have pitfalls and advantages. A friend has recently finished her PhD and I questioned her approach to her project. An interesting quote, she said for her ( and i think anybody at this level) it was important to be well read so as not to bring up the obvious, and at least try and bring a new angle on a subject). I fully understand this, but as a Ma student I still feel (for me at least ) the latter is a better way at present, as reasoned thought (with all its dead ends and possibly simple conclusions) brings a depth of understanding that second hand knowledge can never equel. Yes it takes longer and is riskier (including complete failure) but its far more satisfying finding a scholar agreeing (or not) with a line of argument than to just ‘quote.’
So i have been reading a lot about the concept of ‘space, void and mass’ and previous ideas and new springing off some other peoples thoughts. So a mixture as time constraints (and my eyes) allow.

The Woods

The personal experience of trying to create a piece of work, along a certain theory has led me to conclude so many angles of design and perspective (whether as an individual or trying to interpret the end user in whom we serve). A few weeks on and I am coming up with solutions that don’t sit that well as a designer. The big one being is ‘Framework’. That is what we design. The framework will always be loaded with expectation and disappointment, but thats why it needs to be a frame work. Anything to dogmatic and the community left behind with not be able to leave their finger print on the space as it evolves and therefore never adopt the space. With the result that it will be left to local council who will do the minimum as the Council tax payers who shout the loudest will get their way ( put it this way it won’t be someone trying to hold down a job on the minimum wage).

Conclusions thus far

1) Modernism never existed as everything has a motive, either from rebellion from something or conformity for acceptance. An opposite is an opposite of something therefore ‘nothing’ (year zero) cannot be achieved.Year zero only existed once, everything from that point will always have allegory, a time line, and a cause and effect on the aforementioned timeline (ultimately decay ,loss of energy, darkness, void). This is our constraint we can’t escape it. 

2) So as an individual I accept this, my baggage/aspirations/distorted view will always come through. So ‘pespective’ is a distorted lens that we all see through, and yet to ourselves as individuals is as clear as a spring morning. I can only attempt to interpret how others see and aspire. So it has to be an effort from day one to include the community that I will effect. They also need to understand this fact, big picture, long term cause and effect.

3) Framework for others to evolve as they see fit. I cannot socially engineer. Modernism tried this and failed. Because humans are complex and predictions of future behaviour have nearly always been wrong (eventually, at first a theory may well work, but evolution will always take the shortest route, which we so often miss). 

4) Escape. Which can also be termed as ‘fantasy’. Most movies portray an idealised world for us to escape to for a couple of hours. Especially the ‘feel-good’ film. And there is nothing wrong with that, its what we do to regulate (just like the brain uses dreams to stop us going mad, I think 5 days with out sleep starts to lead to madness) and keep our sanity in this unnaturally stressed world that we are still adapting to. So escape and changing escape/fantasy within a design in an urban context is crucial.

5) Play. For adults and children. Another way to release the valve of our restrictive lives.

6) Time line of perspective. I came up with six ( again this is not a fixed rule as baggage effects each of us) stages that describe what i go through over time concerning a space( that becomes a place due to revelation and memory).
first observation= wonder through discovery
            second= familiarity which shrinks the space
               third= invisibility, you just don’t notice it
               forth= imprint in your mind/ permanent memory
                fifth= allegory forms as a sequence of the aforementioned events in time
               sixth= nostalgia refection of youth, as death approaches

7) Lanscape is a manmade concept, 

Note, shadow on tree and the ghost behind. Once observed can never revert for the individual as well as the collective.

Enough. I would love to do my symposium again as i think i have cemented some idea’s and thrown out others. plus not being under pressure to ‘think’ has meant more free thought has come to the front of my mind.

I think I could do virtually the whole symposium around a Frank Capra film Eg ‘Its a Wonderful life’ or a Hollywood musical Eg ‘Calamity Jane’

(note embedding not working on you tube.GRRR, click on link etc)

It’s a Wonderful life
Colorised version, whole film. Note Frank Capra nearly had the film turned down for its Anti-Capatalist message. Idealised yes, but 80% of a goal is still worth more than doing nothing.

It’s a Wonderful Life: Colorized Version *HD* – Part 1 of 1 – YouTube

Calamity Jane
Good old Calamity Jane, pure escapism, rufftim and tufftim, can’t help but feel good after anything with the Gal next door ‘Doris Day’. Bless her. Though off the set her life was anything but ideal. So even those seemingly who have it all financially, don’t …thank God!!

The Deadwood Stage from Calamity Jane (1953) – YouTube

Check out ‘I can do with out you’ and ‘Windy city’

The Business Model

The bane of  society
Well you may ask surely we need business models for business to run effectively and for growth and thus the prosperity of the general populous. Yes, but were on the chart of importance should it be?

A conversation between a dying Steve Jobs and Bill Gates ended in a humble appreciation of each others skills. But the give away comment for me was Bill’s using the phrase of the conversation “well, we have a difference of opinion of our business models” and there is the give away comment. The model first, then how to execute it, whereas Jobs view was innovation and connection. Innovation was primarily about the end user, for example the iphone, before that product the phone market resembled the TV market at present, confused, unconnected (how many handsets does it take to watch TV now!!!) and short term. Connection of products and operation systems learn one then you can operate all the other applications , ie get ‘Pages” (macs ‘Word’) then all the others have the same interface…simple. 
Try that with an Adobe product! A circle in Photoshop is different from InDesign which again is different in Illustrator, and before you say well they are different products so they have to be different, ask yourself who are you thinking about the engineers who build it or the end user? Who is your primary concern? Making life easier for the engineer or the end user?
Thats why artists and engineers have to work together, either on their own and you get a pretty product that crashes all the time or a product that works, but is overcomplicated for the ordinary user and therefore not used.

Make IT simple…Three moves 
We now take it for granted that we buy a phone and use it, not spending hours trying to find stuff and reading reams of instructions. It has to be intuitive to reach the majority otherwise you have a product the excludes.

So which is the better model? 
The one were you sell as a product that is short term, rushed to the market (the ipad has been promised for over 10 years, not until battery life was improved would it be released), selling something that is shiny and status driven or a product that is aimed for everyday people to use, setting bench marks rather than following, actually trying to improve people lives rather than just trying to get cash out of their pockets.

Its always about the end user

“They just don’t get it” (Steve Jobs) in reference to Google and Microsoft’s approach to product design


As Landscape Architects and Garden Designers we need to ‘GET IT’ otherwise what is the point? Vanity, personnel status, wealth? 
All chasing the wind, here to day gone tomorrow, all is vanity, as Solomon is alleged to have written.

The end user determines design.
This is our mission, if not, go and get a job in the City.

Legacy, what are you going to leave behind?