Neoliberalism Explained: Why it must be dismantled

Or: How Milton Friedman destroyed Western civilization, the neolliberalism story.

An economic ideology first theorized in the 40s and 50s by scholars, it was brought to popular attention in the 1970s by the works of economist Milton Friedman and novelist Ayn Rand among others. It grew in popularity and became widely adopted in U.S. economic policy beginning with Ronald Reagan in the 80s.

The essential heart of neoliberalism is the idea of the rich as top performers and job creators, driving the economy forward through their achievements and innovations; and that societies work best with little government regulation and where citizens are shaped to work according to market principles. Its adoption as a major driver of policy effectively undid many of the gains to middle class opportunity created by the New Deal, FDR’s ambitious public works project that pulled the nation out from the grips of the Great Depression following the 1929 crash on Wall Street.

Neoliberalism is the dominant economic orthodoxy in the modern era. It is both a political and a financial ideology, with the following extremist beliefs:

  • Antigovernment sentiment — Their pitch is that all governments, including democratic ones, threaten individual liberty and must be stopped (or “drowned in the bathtub,” in the words of anti-tax zealots and movement conservatives).
  • Free markets should conquer governments — They claim, absurdly, that the toppling of self-governance would improve both economies and individual liberties.
  • The victory of markets is inevitable and there is nothing you can do about it — The fall of the Soviet Union was deemed the “end of history” by neoliberals, who believed that laissez-faire free market capitalism would inevitably triumph over all other forms of economic and political systems.
  • Economies work best when governments don’t intervene — Neoliberals want to prevent the powers of government from interfering with their ability to cut corners, dump industrial waste, pay fair wages, offer benefits, adhere to safety standards, engage in deceptive advertising, commit tax evasion, and so on — while continuing to supply them a steady stream of the public’s money via unpaid for tax cuts that balloon holes in the deficit. They fight against regulation tooth and nail, and try to claim that markets operate “naturally” as if under something akin to laws of physics — while failing to mention that there are no markets without regulation, without standards of fairness, without a justice system to enforce contracts and do its best to ensure a relatively equal business playing field.
  • The alchemy of neoliberalism will transmute greed into gold for everyone — The neoliberal promise is about spreading wealth, freedom, and democracy around the world — at the barrel of a gun, missile, or drone if necessary. Neoliberals consider greed to be the essence of human nature, and have modeled an entire societal system around this most base of human instincts. They claim, improbably — and surely many are True Believers — that narcissism and the aggressive pursuit of power and wealth will somehow magically create peace, happiness, and riches for everyone.

The insistence that governments and self-rule should be subordinated to the ultra-rich, to the oligarchs — that, to me, is the core essence of why this framework is evil. The staggeringly dissonant conviction about transforming sociopathy into global peace is a very close second.

Since the 1970s and accelerating with Reagan years, wealthy elites in the right wing have been spending gobs of their ill-earned wealth on creating a conservative movement echo chamber of think tanks, talk radio, literature, televangelists, YouTube streamers, and more — it is the vast right-wing conspiracy Hillary Clinton warned us about. It most certainly exists, and it most certainly is aggressively pursuing its political aims to disenfranchise the American people as fully as possible, so as to better walk away with an absurdly unjust share of the mutually created wealth by the wealth of intelligent and diligent labor here in the United States.

Common whites

It appeals to the MAGA crowd because it allows them to vicariously tag along with the rich and powerful right-wing bigots who flaunt and dangle their wealth in front of the plebes by which to entice them to open up their wallets and send in a meagre donation for this or that white victimhood fund that does nothing but enrich the scam artists who run it as a hollow shell. It validates their hardcore white supremacy and casual racism alike, provides the sadistic satisfaction of attacking their enemies (symbolically and/or literally), gives them something to do and believe in, and keeps them entertained while their pockets are being fleeced in broad daylight.

Neoliberalism has succeeded in undermining some of the last shreds of democratic infrastructure and civic goodwill in society at this point in American political history. The defenses brilliantly architected by the Founders to ensure checks and balances would manage the power games in Washington to within workable levels have frayed even further under 4 years of Trump, and the vitriol of the January 6 coup attempt and insurrection that’s fueled further right-wing Big Lie entrenchment and domestic terrorist extremism.

Democracy is in crisis, and neoliberalism the culprit of this hostage story.

At least Joe Biden is correct in his analysis of the solution: we should tax the rich.

Fascists became conservatives in the 1920s and 30s

(notes / draft) Who were the early conservatives? Former fascists and Nazi sympathizers in the US.

1930s opposition to Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal

3 main right-wing factions then:

  1. libertarians — right-wing economics faction led by Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, & Friedrich Hayek
  2. traditionalists — William F. Buckley, National Review (1955), Barry Goldwater
  3. anti-communists and Nazi sympathizers — John Birch Society, Robert Welch, Fred Koch, William Randolph Hearst, Henry Ford, Father Charles Coughlin, Charles Lindbergh, McCarthyites

After the Allies won World War II, a number of the early Hitler sympathizers “hid out” in anti-communist circles, allowing them to cloak their underlying fascism inside of the American Cold War project and give it a semi-presentable face in conservatism.

In the 1970s, 2 more conservative groups emerged for a total of 5 main sects:

4. neoconservatives — Ronald Reagan

5. the religious right — the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell Sr. & Jr., Jimmy Swaggart, Jim & Tammy Fae Baker, Pat Robertson, Jesse Helms, Paul Weyrich, Paul Regnery, William Rusher, prosperity gospel

Conservatives became fascists again in 2016

The ascension of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States gave permission to all the closet fascists practicing ketman as conservatives to come right on out and let their freak bigotry flags fly.

All the little white power sleeper cells and now networked anti-government militia groups were let off the chain and invited to take a swing at our national sovereignty and see if they could steal the American government for him. Thanks to the strength and integrity of numerous civil servants and others they did not succeed — however, the festering mass of fascism isn’t going anywhere much just yet.

Other topics

will be fleshing out further:

  • neoliberals & theocons — Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, and others who led us into forever wars in the Middle East
  • MAGA
  • white supremacists & Lost Cause religion
  • right-wing anti-government violence
    • domestic violent extremism
  • conservative ideology
    • a form of totalism

American Fascists & the Global Right 😈

It feels like the 1930s all over again — and with good reason. The rise of American fascists and right-wing extremism around the world has been a known trend for decades, and America’s past flirtations with fascism had been largely swept under the rug by the then anti-semites who tried to put a stop to FDR’s New Deal and prevent the U.S. from getting into World War II.

They fought against labor unions and labor organizers, often using private militia as henchmen to do their dirtywork with plausible deniability for themselves. The Ku Klux Klan — the principle paramilitary organization formed during Reconstruction to undo egalitarian gains from the Civil War — was just one of many instruments put to use in service of plutocratic aims to quell any “communist awakening” amongst their workers, lest they get any uppity ideas for themselves. They fell for the popular conspiracy theories of their time, which included Hitler’s bogus assertion that Jewish bankers controlled the world and had to be stopped before they destroyed the white race.

Those fascists, butthurt over America’s overwhelmingly popular decision to enter the war and stop Hitler from exterminating the Jews, seethed with jealousy at the post-war “liberal consensus” that flourished alongside the booming US economy, propelled first by the war effort and later by the peacetime success of the New Deal‘s long shadow and the burgeoning of the American middle class.

The American fascists turned into the John Birch Society, and the McCarthyites, and the Libertarians, and the Moral Majority, and the Gingrich Revolution, and the Tea Party, and the MAGA / QAnon stew sloshing around mass media. The kooks on the far right — the kind of ilk so cray cray that even William F. Buckley excommunicates you from the Republican Party — have taken over the hen house now. Outrage sells, as Facebook well knows — and as two-bit dictators around the world have bribed Mark Zuckerberg to brainwash the masses using the most inanely illogical propaganda prolefeed, the world tilts dangerously towards authoritarianism and the end of our democracy as we know it. And with it, all hope for truth and light into the future for some time to come — the equivalent of a political meteor hitting the Earth.

The American fascists are still around, and now they have tools of propaganda that Goebbels could never have even wet dreamed of. They’re more powerful and more well-connected — to other sociopaths, malignant narcissists, and other pathological cult-leader types who might be of transactional service to each other from time to time. We’d be wise to keep an eye on these folks.

NameTypeLocationKnown for
Greg AbbottPoliticianTexas
Roman AbramovichForeign agent
ACU Strategic PartnersForeign agent
Sheldon AdelsonBusinesspersonLas Vegas, NV
AggregateIQCorporation
Roger AilesMedia personalityDeceased
Todd AkinPoliticianMissouri
Nelson W. Aldrich
Ali AlexanderExtremist
Samuel AlitoJudgeWashington, DC
American Energy AllianceNon-profit
American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)Non-profit
Americans for ProsperityPAC
Philip AnschutzBusinesspersonColorado
Michael Anton
Lee AtwaterPolitical Operative
Michele BachmanPoliticianMN
Steve BannonMedia personalityHouseboats
Ross Barnett
William BarrPublic Sector
Maurice BarresAuthorFrance
Louis BeamWhite Supremacist
Roy BeckWhite Supremacist
Andy BiggsPoliticianAZ
Black LegionExtremistMichigan
David BogatinOligarchNYC
Jacob BogatinOligarch
John Wilkes BoothCriminalDeceased
L. Brent BozellExtremist
Harry and Lynde BradleyKochtopus
Andrew BreitbartMedia personality
Anders BreivikExtremistOslo, Norway
Mo BrooksPoliticianHuntsville, AL
Brother's CircleCriminal
Michael BrownFerguson, MO
Pat BuchananPoliticianWashington, DC
William F. Buckley JrMedia personality
Doug BurleyPolitical Operative
Cambridge AnalyticaCorporationLondon, UK
Renaud CamusAuthorFrance
Tucker CarlsonMedia personalityNYC
Doug CaseyBusinessperson
Michael CatanzaroLobbyist
Cato InstituteThink Tank
Madison CawthornPoliticianNC
Center to Protect Patient RightsKochtopus
Mike CernovichMedia personality
CGCN GroupLobbyist
James ChaneyActivistNeshoba County, MS
Jeremy Joseph ChristianExtremistPortland, OR
Chris ChristiePolitician
Michael CohenBusinesspersonNYC
Steven A. CohenBusinessperson
Roy CohnPolitical OperativeDeceased
Competitive Enterprise InstituteThink TankWashington, DC
Continental ResourcesCorporationOklahoma
Coors brewing familyKoch InvestorColorado
Council of Conservative Citizens (CoC)
Ted CruzPoliticianTexas
Jefferson Davis
Kim DavisPublic SectorKentucky
Devos familyKoch Investor
Amadou DialloNew York
James DobsonMedia personality
Chester Doles
Rod DreherExtremist
Dinesh D'SouzaMedia personality
Doug DuceyPoliticianAZ
Aleksandr DuginExtremistRussia
David DukeWhite Supremacist
John EastmanPolitical Operative
Myron EbellPolitical Operative
Election Integrity Project CaliforniaExtremist
Larry EllisonBusinessperson
Cassandra Fairbanks
Jerry Falwell, JrTelevangelist
The FamilyLobbyist
The Federalist SocietyExtremist
Scott FitzgeraldPoliticianWI
Michael FlynnCult Leader
For AmericaPAC
Nathan Bedford Forrest
Fox NewsCorporation
Free Congress Foundation
Freedom CaucusPolitician
Freedom PartnersKochtopus
FreedomWorksExtremist
Matt GaetzPolitician
Kevin GentryKochtopus
Greg GianfortePolitician
Newt GingrichMedia personality
Tim "Baked Alaska" GionetWhite Supremacist
Rudy GiulianiPoliticianNYC
GiveSendGo
Barry GoldwaterPoliticianAZ
Seb GorkaPolitical Operative
Billy Graham
Madison GrantPolitical Operative
Chuck GrassleyPolitician
The Great Awakening
Marjorie Taylor GreeneQAnonGA
Eric GreitensPoliticianMO
Harold HammKochtopus
James Henry HammondExtremist
Warren G. HardingPolitician
Billy James HargisExtremist
Orrin HatchPolitician
Josh HawleyPoliticianMO
Matthew HeimbachExtremist
Jesse HelmsPolitician
Leona Helmsley
Diane HendricksWI
Heritage FoundationThink TankWashington, DC
Honest Elections ProjectExtremist
Herbert HooverPoliticianWashington, DC
Mike HuckabeePolitician
Laura IngrahamMedia personality
Andrew JacksonPoliticianDeceased
John Birch SocietyExtremist
Andrew JohnsonPoliticianDeceased
Chuck JohnsonMedia personality
Ron JohnsonPolitician
Alex JonesMedia personality
Jim JordanPoliticianOH
Judicial Education ProjectExtremist
Islam KarimovOligarchUzbekistan
Alex KaschutaMedia personality
Brett KavanaughJudgeDC
Dr. D. James Kennedy
John F. KennedyPoliticianDeceased
Robert F. KennedyPoliticianDeceased
Anna Khachiyan
Martin Luther KingActivistDeceased
Charlie KirkMedia personality
Walter KirnAuthorMT
KKKWhite Supremacist
Bill KochBusinessperson
Charles KochKochtopusKansas
David KochKochtopusDeceased
Fred KochKochtopusKansas
Frederick KochBusinesspersonNew York
David KoreshCult LeaderWaco, TX
Ku Klux Klan (see KKK)White Supremacist
Kylie Jane Kremer
David LaneWhite Supremacist
Ken LangoneBusinessperson
Lyndon LaRoucheCult Leader
Robert LeFevreKochtopus
Leonard LeoExtremist
Marine Le PenPoliticianFrance
Honor Levy
Liberty Counsel
The Liminal Order
William S. LindPolitical Operative
Kelly LoefflerPoliticianGeorgia
Dana LoeschMedia personality
Sen. Huey LongPoliticianDeceased
Thomas MairExtremist
Paul ManafortLobbyist
Clarence Manion
Blake MastersPoliticianAZ
John McAfeeBusinesspersonDeceased
Sen. Joseph McCarthyPoliticianDeceased
Kevin McCarthyPoliticianCA
Michael McKennaKochtopus
Timothy McVeighExtremistOklahoma City, OK
Andrew MellonBusinessperson
Rebekah MercerOligarch
Robert MercerOligarch
MicroChip
Stephen MillerExtremist
Michael Milken
Cleta MitchellExtremistOK
Semion MogilevichCriminal
Stefan MolyneuxMedia personality
Sun Myung MoonCult Leader
Roy MoorePoliticianAL
JP MorganBusinessperson
Rupert MurdochOligarch
Jack Murphy
Benito Mussolini
MWR StrategiesKochtopus
Dasha Nekrasova
neo-NazisExtremist
Terry NicholsExtremist
Richard NixonPolitician
Ralph NormanPolitician
NRAExtremist
NYPDPublic Sector
Barack ObamaPoliticianChicago, DC, Los Angeles
John M. OlinKochtopus
Viktor OrbanPolitician
The Order
Candace OwensExtremist
Matt ParrottExtremist
Laszlo Pasztor
Norman Vincent PealeBusinessperson
Mike PenceMedia personality
Rick PerryPolitician
Scott PerryPolitician
Jordan B PetersonAcademic
William Pierce
Pioneer Fund
Jeanine PirroMedia personality
Mike PompeoPublic Sector
Jack PosobiecMedia personality
Lewis PowellBusinessperson
Sydney PowellPolitical Operative
Proud BoysExtremist
Thomas PyleBusinessperson
QAnonQAnon
Jean RaspailAuthorFrance
Nancy ReaganMedia personalityDeceased
Ronald ReaganPoliticianDeceased
Kyle Rittenhouse
Pat RobertsonTelevangelist
Dylann Roof
George Romney
Mitt RomneyPoliticianUT
Murray RothbardExtremist
Dave Rubin
Richard Mellon ScaifeKoch Investor
David SchnarePolitical Operative
Stephen Schwarzman
Rick ScottPolitician
Jeff SessionsPoliticianAL
Marc ShortPolitical Operative
Sinclair Broadcasting GroupCorporation
Paul SingerKoch Investor
SNCCNon-profit
Social Contract PressWhite Supremacist
Richard SpencerWhite Supremacist
Balaji SrinivasanBusinessperson
State Policy NetworkKochtopus
Dan SteinWhite Supremacist
Lothrop StoddardWhite Supremacist
Roger StoneLobbyist
Richard StrongBusinessperson
Sen. Robert TaftPolitician
John H. TantonWhite SupremacistMichigan
Tea PartyPAC
Peter ThielBusinesspersonLos Angeles, CA
Clarence ThomasJudgeWashington, DC
Ginni ThomasPolitical OperativeWashington, DC
Three PercentersExtremist
Traditionalist Workers PartyExtremist
Turning Point USAExtremist
UnabomberCriminal
Unification ChurchCult Leader
Unite the RightActivistCharlottesville, NC
University of Texas at AustinAcademicAustin, TX
JD VancePoliticianOH
Ricky Vaughn
Ruben VerastiguiCriminalDC
John VinsonExtremist
George WallacePoliticianAlabama
Joe WalshMedia personality
Kelli WardPoliticianAZ
Ron WatkinsExtremist
Randy WeaverWhite SupremacistNaples, ID
Vicki WeaverWhite SupremacistNaples, ID
WeevWhite Supremacist
Paul WeyrichWhite Supremacist
White Citizens CouncilsWhite Supremacist
Geert Wilders
Darren WilsonPublic Sector
WikiLeaksForeign agent
Milo YiannopoulosMedia personality

Bullies

How to deal with bullies

Or, DADA vs. MAGA. Defense Against the Dark Arts was like the women’s self-defense class of Hogwarts — it taught you how to prepare yourself for the evil that was out there lurking and waiting for you out there. This course of DADA will follow suit, aiming to offer ways to detect, defend, and defeat the cultism rising in America and beyond.

It will be a work in progress over time, so please bear with me as I assemble learnings from a number of sources.

Red Flags: Traits to watch out for

  • evasiveness
    • vagueness
    • slipperiness
    • can’t be pinned down
    • won’t answer straightforward questions
  • denialism
  • cognitive dissonance
    • doublespeak
    • paleologic
    • word salad
    • contradictions
    • nonsense
  • black and white thinking
    • “my way or the highway”
    • rigid and inflexible, even when obviously off the mark
    • all or nothing framing
    • narrow range of observations
  • motivated reasoning
  • deceptiveness
  • easily angered
    • almost anything seems to trigger them

Attention: Take Back Control of Our Minds

The internet, social media, seemingly infinite channels of entertainment and franchises in gaming are but tips of the giant iceberg that now competes for our time and attention. The number of options to choose from has scaled exponentially over the past several decades — but our amount of time to spend has not increased whatsoever. If anything, it’s decreased

January 6 Attack: Donald Trump stormed the Capitol to stay in power

January 6: A Day that will live in ignominy. The day Capitol riots broke out when an angry mob, following instructions from Donald Trump, stormed the halls of Congress and came within minutes of a potential hostage situation or worse: a massacre.

I’m still processing the events of Wednesday, as are many. Even though I fully anticipated something horrifying given the utter obviousness of the confrontation brewing, I did not have a particular picture in mind of what that thing was going to be.

Despite having steeled myself for the past 4+ years, I wept many times at some of the imagery and video footage. The defilement of the people’s halls by a violent armed mob who took selfies with Capitol Police was just not something I could have conceived of.

There must be accountability

This was one of the darkest days of our nation. Even during the Civil War the Confederates never stormed the US Capitol, so to see the Confederate flag waving in Congress was a desecration. It twisted me up to have such a raw display of America’s deepest gash of white supremacist history taken symbolically and literally to the nation’s capital.

This event was broadcast around the world, to our allies and to our enemies. We received rebukes from Moscow, Beijing, and Tehran. We — the supposed bastion of democracy. The country that lectures other nations around the world on how to do democracy better. We have been humiliated for the entire planet to see.

We need answers about what happened here. The people deserve to know who planned this, who helped this along, who looked the other away, and perhaps most importantly: who still agrees with it (Hawley and Cruz, for one — they must go).

We must stop fascism in America

The rot of fascism has been allowed to spread to the point where a violent mob of white supremacists, QAnon conspiracy nuts, MAGA faithful and a demon’s host of all stripes came within minutes of taking hostages inside the chambers of Congress. Five people lost their lives and already are being made into martyrs.

This did not begin with Trump, but he certainly amplified the signal at a much more psychotic rate than under previous administrations, certainly of my lifetime. We are now at a dangerous precipice: in a time of staggering wealth inequality, a once in a century health crisis largely being ignored by the right wing, deeply bitter partisanship played out over decades, the creep of authoritarianism around the world — and now at home.

Wednesday’s Capitol Riots did essentially mark the “crossing of the Rubicon” that the Trump cult begged him to do — it was a coming-out day for fascism. It was the President of the United States instructing an armed mob to walk up to the Capitol where lawmakers were certifying the election for the guy who won it, and telling them to “take our country back” and give it to him — by force if necessary. Which, of course, was necessary.

That is the Rubicon — the Rubicon is the willingness to use political violence when you have exhausted all other legal, shady, illegal, and hideously criminal means. That is the fascist twist. If we do not react now; if we do not censure, remove, and allow justice to hold these individuals accountable — both inside and outside of the government — they will take it as permission to try again and again until we deal with this.

We must hold the insurrectionists accountable — if we are to keep this republic.

Time only runs forward

Can’t go back — as far as we know. That makes the politics of nostalgia, of the rose-tinted past, of MAGA, to be by definition an exercise in magical thinking.

We can’t go back to the past.

Psychologically speaking though, it is common to harbor this belief. This wishful thinking.

The Politics of Fear

It is the availability of memory stacked against the uncertainty of the future. For those who lack a certain sense of imagination, the road ahead can seem dark and dangerous. They are vulnerable to succor and protection — from enemies they believe to be around every corner.

In exchange for loyalty to the Strongman, they get fake superficial protection while the leader and his cronies raid the community coffers. Meanwhile the autocrat blames the opposition party for all the followers’ ills, despite obviously being in power himself. They hail him as a truthteller.

Magical Thinking

This blindness to the constraints of reality is more common than we might think. And regression is a common defense mechanism which encapsulates in microcosm this macro nostalgia: wherein we fall back to the carefree mentality of childhood. It’s a method of escapism and avoiding responsibility on one hand, and an aspect of the denial of death.

But we must grow up, and bravely face our fate. We must make decisions that shape it, and guide our course through the significant constraints of life and the unexpected obstacles.

Creativity is the Antidote

Ironically, something worthwhile we may have left behind in childhood can help get us out of this mess. Creativity shares the imaginative aspect with magical thinking, but the difference is its recognition of the constraints of reality. Time, resources, skills, prevailing conditions, random chance, and much more all must be favorable for us to achieve our creative goals and solve our problems. It requires effort and incisiveness. It requires an addiction to reality.

Creativity requires humility — something in short supply. We will need to cultivate vulnerability and non-aggression and deliberation. We will need to rediscover community and rededicate ourselves to civics.

I’m ready. Are you?