It’s a term that gets thrown around a good deal these days.
So what is it?
It’s a political climate and ideology in which almost everything is left to the market system.
The market is God. It’s almost a religion.
What does that mean?
In this system we are all salesmen. What we sell are our skills. If we can’t get money for something, it doesn’t matter, its value is low. You are only worth as much as a human being as your paycheck and job title say. People become very disconnected from where they stand as a human and literally sell their soul on the job market and go do stuff that they do not fully understand the consequences of, they do not even ask about any consequences, if somebody is willing to give them some money to do a thing, it must be a good thing. No questions asked.
All services should be privatized, the state should not own any sort of business and not offer any services, the state should only be there the further promote the neoliberal agenda, to regulate the market a little bit and to make sure that everyone is as competitive as possible.
The state of society is measured by how well the stock market is doing. As most stocks are owned by the superrich this is just about making the rich richer by making employees work hard and do more in less time with less colleagues.
The result is that employees compete to sell their time to the highest bidder. It’s the ideal climate for psychopaths who have no qualms about exploiting people for financial gain, as long as it can be done without hurting your public image or ‘brand’.
Although child labor in the west has been abolished and outsourced to so called third world nations, children in the west are from a young age molded to realize their potential to make money. Childhood has become a long and rather intense preparation to make money later, although young adults do have a lot of time to travel and spend money, without really learning anything profound about the countries they travel to apart from finding out where the best restaurants are.
The loss of a class identity
People get fed message through commercials, stories and the carefully selected ‘news’ and politicians to go against their own interests, to treat themselves as a competitive company, and to stop seeing themselves as part of a class. People are encourage to forget that there’s such a thing as a class war going on. To put it in the simplest terms: the fight between the one percent and the 99 percent.
The occupy wallstreet movement was a brief rebellion against this ideology, but its back was broken by the Obama administration, as Obama was a wolf in sheep clothes and helped along the neoliberal agenda, all though he put up a purely symbolic fight against it.
Individual freedom seems limitless under neoliberalism, as long as it involves purchasing choices, voting once in a while in the voting booth for establishment approved parties who all represent the interests of the 1 percent and how to waste away your free time doing whatever you want as long as it does not threaten the financial and political elite. You can voice your opinion as long as it doesn’t threaten the elite or as long as you don’t have a following. Under neoliberalism this blog is ok as long as it doesn’t get a large following.
People are cultivated to see the world only as their own private life, their job, their kids, friends, their personal entertainment, food, physique, clothes, etc. They are encouraged to express their individuality as much as possible, especially if money needs to be spend to express it, if you need to buy something or need services to express that ‘sacred’ individuality. Spirituality becomes a part of it and most spirituality does not challenge anything, it’s just a vehicle to promote more individualism and it becomes ‘co-opted’, you can spend money on spirituality, spirituality becomes a business. The ideology of today is that everything needs to be a business. You should even try to make money on instagram by posting pictures of you food, your outfits, your travels, your daily life. Monetize EVERYTHING!!!
The need for a constant war threat
The neoliberal agenda also thrives on fear. Fear of migrants, fear of people with a different skin color, fear of strangers. Anything is done to prevent people from uniting and demanding more democracy. Democracies as we know them today are hollow, they are smoke screens, the actual impact of a voter on his environment is practically nihil.
An important and profitable threat is the threat of war. The military industrial complex is a huge part of the economy. Military equipment needs to be updated constantly and countries need to stockpile weapons. Through treaties NATO countries are required to spend a significant part of their GDP on armements.
For this we constantly need to be reminded that there are dangerous, volatile regimes and terrorist groups out there. It’s never explained where the origins of these threats originated as it was usually the west who was responsible for the threats. The threats, like North-Korea or Iran, are used to justify a bloated military at the expense of the tax payer who is even happy that the military exists, because he thinks the threats are real and that the only good defense is a good offense.
Public education needs to focus on the skills obedient employees need to keep the machine turning
In school you will be taught to work for a future employer. You will not be taught to think for yourself, to question the status quo, you will also get a good deal of patriotism no matter where you go to school and you will never be challenged to question the system you live in, education defends the status quo and narrows the mind. At best you learn the skills to sell your time to a future employer. The most succesful employers -ironically and tellingly- have often not gone through the same educational process as the people that work for them!
The wet dream of entrepreneurs
The new religion is that you can become rich as an entrepreneur. If only you could find a way to solve some problem for thousands and thousands of people, you can become rich and you do something wonderful. This goes hand in hand with the spiritual wave of the ‘law of attraction’ that’s now around in many different colors and forms. The idea is that by having super positive thoughts you can attract wealth and abundance. Though being positive can lead to more opportunities than being negative, it’s of course bullshit that everyone can become rich and that everyone can have a million dollar idea if he or she just repeats mantra of abundance and calls himself an entrepreneur. This new kind of spirituality is surprisingly materialistic in nature. It does not practice compassion, it does not ask why we are here, we are apparently only here to make money and to have fun, fun, fun doing it. Lots of folks are tricked by the human mind that always deludes itself that things are going to get better, that they too will one day be very succesful, that one day they will free themselves from an employer, in reality only a very small number become succesful entrepreneurs, because being an entrepreneur requires such a complicated mixture of personal traits, ideas, luck, circumstances, skills and competent co-workers that it’s almost like playing the lottery, although the players have the false feeling of being much more in control of the game than when they are buying a lottery ticket.
We could have an exceptionally thriving world if people would always think of the greater good and not their own personal circumstances, but our human brain is too small for that at this stage in our evolution.
Neoliberalism and its culture, through movies, series, sports, etc celebrates competiton, thoughness, perfectionism, performing under stress, winning, winning against all odds, sports (in which all these qualities are necessary), vanity, personal efficiency, individualism, an inflated power of the individual to change his or her circumstance or even society, instant gratification, endless egocentric self-expression, money, luxury goods, materialism, an indiviualized religion, religion à la carte, so to speak, mental fitness, and pretending to be always positive, always strong, always able to deal with any obstacle, and the belief that the ultimate goal of a human being is to accumulate material wealth and be very efficient in selling himself or herself, it leads us to groom a perfect image of ourselves to display to the world, it cultivates Vanity above all.
The earth is raped.
Relationships suffer as partnerships become increasingly more about money and status and external glamour than about love.
Human connections suffer, leading to addictions and depression, as an addiction is a disorder of your social relationships.
Workers are infantilized because of the constant stress to perform better and to compete, while ignoring their emotional needs, in service of the Money God.
We are being entertained to death by sports, mega spectacles, series, reality tv stars that are politicians, commericals that will have us believe how wonderful life is and how you can really get everything that you want.
And if you do not get what you want, IT IS YOUR OWN DAMNED FAULT.
Neoliberalism puts an enormous burden on the individual to be succesful in life. We are led to believe that we are the masters of our fate, and that if we fail to live up to society’s expectations nobody is to blame but the loser himself.
We willingly vote for our own executioners, believing that we too can be succesful in voting for succesful, ‘strong’, people who tell the harsh ‘truth’.
Many people start to feel worthless as only a couple ‘succesful’ people get all the attention in the media and on social media and are celebrated. In the end people are only measured by the number of their likes, their money, their status, not by the values they represent or the kindness they show towards others, only we do pretend that we value kind people, in the end we look down on them.
Cui bono? Who benefits?
Neoliberalism is the ideolgy that the superrich want to inject you with as it serves their agenda.
It functions like a Troyan horse, because the people attacked by it, think it’s something to be celebrate. They dance at their own execution party. The real winners are the big stockholders, the moneyed elite, the ruling class and its amply rewarded minions.
If you want to develop a system to control people, you could not come up with any better system than this, as the oppressed applaud their oppressors.
Although many people do not consciously know what is happening, they are subconsciously very open to stories that expose this current state of affairs, like, as the best example, the Matrix series.
The bottom line is that this ideology lets us be far less, far, far less than we could be as a species and as a society and we even embrace and cheer on the stagnation.
What’s the difference with fascism?
- It’s not tied down to one nationality or country
- You have the illusion of choice, you get presented big parties and the media emphasizes small differences between them. The most obvious example is the binary narrative of the Democrats and the Republicans, who from an economic point of view are practically the same. In a country like France or Germany or Belgium the Democrats would be a party closer to the right wing parties than to left wing parties.
- Labor unions are weak and people are discouraged to join them, but they are weak or its leaders have such high paychecks that they don’t take any risks and toe the line of the corporate agenda.
- The real leaders operate in the shadows
- There’s no openly macho Führerprincip, but there’s a cult of success, the new Gods are people who make billions, apart from entertainment celebrities, sometimes the two blend (see Reagan, see Trump, see Oprah Winfrey who might run for president)
- Both neoliberalism and fascism love war and love dominating markets, but neoliberalism is less obvious about it, since it has realized that often it doesn’t have to ‘put boots on the ground’, if you control the markets of foreign nations, you don’t need to invade. If you do oppose those markets and if you want your country to reap the benefits of its own resources, then you are slated for destruction. The US is an expert in orchestrating regime change. It’s heavily influenced political revolutions in Chile, Portugal (!), Greece (!), Iran, Hawai (yes, Hawai), Libya, Iraq, Serbia, Egypt (through it ally Saudi-Arabia), Ukraine and it has unsuccesfully tried to oust Assad from power.
- The media is not state owned, but it’s in the hands of big corporations who give you the idea you are reading the news, any news, but it’s heavily filtered
- When fascism was strong, there was no such thing as social media, but since the providers of social media are also big corporations they help governments to render alternative news virtually invisible. Anti-Israel (Israel is a very important cornerstone for this dominant ideology) statements are routinely filtered, for example.
- Under fascism everyone is encouraged and forced to practically adopt the same uniform. Today you could have the illusion that diversity rules. Yes, on the surface everyone is experimenting with their look, their clothes, their tattoos and their self-expression, every second of it has to be instantly shared online. This is a distraction and an illusion, and also a way to emphasize our differences and to encourage us to spend money
- Under fascism people are encouraged to identify themselves with the nation, under neoliberalism everyone is encouraged -really, study messages in commercials and movies and on social media- to identify only with himself or herself. Through various channels and a thriving self-help industry everyone is let to believe that they are the masters of their own destiny, that everyone can achieve anything, if you attack the rich you are envious and too lazy to do it yourself, because, hey, everyone who really works can become part of the elite.
- Neoliberalism has almost no values other than that making money is good, the West stands for freedom and democracy, everyone can do as they please as long as it does not break the law. And as long as it looks good on the surface it’s not wrong. Under neoliberalism it’s morally acceptable to produce and export the most modern killing machines, as long as you don’t export it to a nation that is currently at war. Hypocrisy and ‘keeping up appearances’ is a big part of neoliberalism and the current climate. (see the entertaining movie ‘war dogs’ for example for a fun introduction to this)
- Neoliberalism does not organize an industrial holocaust like the Nazis, a horrendous crime in which 6 million people died. Through its structure and its emphasis on poverty neoliberalism does allow millions of children to starve and die of contaminated drinking water each year. Under the current system you have a holocaust every three years or so, but this is not seen as a crime, as it seems to be random, not deliberate, not a fundamental part of the economic and political climate we live under. It’s listed as something unfortunate that we are trying to solve. We are not really trying to solve this. We have all the resources necessary to make sure nobody on this planet starves to death or dies from poor drinking water conditions. It’s just not very profitable, we have other priorities. And we do not see this situation as a crime.
- Under fascism the workers and employees are encouraged to embrace their employers and willingly endure hardships for the benefit of the greater good. They are offered relative job security as long as they do not go on strike. Neoliberalism has largely eliminated the fear of strikes, because people don’t want to waste their free time to organize to go on strike, corporations have been cut up in small pieces and are spread out all over the world, making it harder for all the employees of any corporation to organize a general strike, the work force also needs to be so flexible that lots of people do not work for one company for much longer than a couple of years, in part because everyone is always out to improve his or her own position. Because so many employees run around, going from one employer to the next, they do not organize on the ground of the firm they work for, they are too busy trying to enhance their cv. These days many people actually work for relatively small enteprises, so it’s harder to revolt and go on strike, because they know their bosses and management personally, and companies foster a climate of one big happy family, through benefits, office parties, team building, etc. There’s a climate of ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you’, which is actually the same line of thinking under fascism, it’s just much more subtle.
- Perhaps the biggest difference is that neoliberalism is not seen as a system, it seems leaderless, most people are not even aware that there is any kind of system, they really do believe they are part of a democracy in which they enjoy freedom, with leaders that defend democracy and freedom and human rights everywhere. Under fascism you know the leaders, you know you are living under a certain kind of system and you know the goals of the system. Under neoliberalism you have no idea what you are really a part of, since propaganda is presented as the news or as highly addictive entertainment, and you are so individualized that thinking on a marco-scale is no longer an option, everyone is too busy jumping through the hoops of their own daily lives, which is a normal human reaction of course.