29 Jan 2018

Popular politics in 2018. The ism of 2018?

Neoliberalism is an old term, dating back to the 1930s, but it has been revived as a way of describing our current politics – or more precisely, the range of thought allowed by our politics. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, it was a way of assigning responsibility for the debacle, not to a political party per se, but to an establishment that had conceded its authority to the market.

For the Democrats in the US and Labour in the UK, this concession was depicted as a grotesque betrayal of principle. Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, it was said, had abandoned the left’s traditional commitments, especially to workers, in favour of a global financial elite and the self-serving policies that enriched them; and in doing so, had enabled a sickening rise in inequality.

The long read

Neoliberalism: the idea that swallowed the world – podcast
The word has become a rhetorical weapon, but it properly names the reigning ideology of our era – one that venerates the logic of the market and strips away the things that make us human


Over the past few years, as debates have turned uglier, the word has become a rhetorical weapon, a way for anyone left of centre to incriminate those even an inch to their right. (No wonder centrists say it’s a meaningless insult: they’re the ones most meaningfully insulted by it.) But “neoliberalism” is more than a gratifyingly righteous jibe. It is also, in its way, a pair of rose coloured eyeglasses.

Image result for Tim Minchin

Extract from an article by Tim Minchin

To Politicians.

Learn how to talk to the people, he says: “You don’t have to talk dumb – you have to talk clear ... You don’t have to be a fucking demagogue and rile up the less educated, the less rich, the insecure to turn on themselves.”

More than that, he thinks, leaders should be given space to change their policies and their minds: “How is the term ‘flip-flop’ a bad thing?” ... You can get out of Brexit.

 You can speak to your population and say, ‘We’ve done our due diligence, we’ve worked really fucking hard, we’ve spent a lot of money and done all the studies, and it turns out it’s going to destroy us – and we don’t think you want that ... More evidence has come in, the parameters of the decision have changed and therefore the decision is going to change, and I hope you can support me.’

“I know I don’t understand the subtleties of politics – obviously – but just get a fucking leader who can say the right shit ... Someone with a good heart, good intentions. Someone who can talk.”

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