On the show, Chris Hedges discusses the nature of neoliberalism and its consequences with Professor Wendy Brown, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University.

Does the eruption of ethnonationalist movements defined by hyper patriotism, xenophobia, racism, religious chauvinism, and so-called traditional moral values signal the end of neoliberalism? Or are these protofascist movements the natural consequence of neoliberal policies that allowed corporations to corrupt and seize governing institutions and the press, impoverish the working class, and orchestrate the largest transference of wealth upwards in American history?

There is no doubt, as the political scientist Wendy Brown writes, that the constellation of principles, policies, practices, and forms of governing reason that may be gathered under the sign of neoliberalism has importantly constituted the catastrophic present, but, she argues, this was not neoliberalism’s intent, rather its Frankensteinian creation. By generating antidemocratic forms of state power above its natural consequence, she argues, was antidemocratic culture from below. The synergy between these two forces sees an increasingly undemocratic and antidemocratic citizenry ever more willing to validate an increasingly antidemocratic state.

Professor Wendy Brown teaches at the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton University, and the author of In the Ruins of Neoliberalism: The Rise of Antidemocratic Politics in the West.
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  1. fgsjr2015 December 5, 2021 at 5:00 PM

    “Or are these protofascist movements the natural consequence of neoliberal policies that allowed corporations to corrupt and seize governing institutions and the press, impoverish the working class, and orchestrate the largest transference of wealth upwards in American history?”

    In Canada (and perhaps the U.S.), big thus powerful corporations actually write bills for our governing representatives to vote for and have implemented, supposedly to save the elected officials their own time. I believe the practice has become so systematic here that those who are aware of it (that likely includes mainstream news-media political writers) don’t bother publicly discussing it.

    Meanwhile, our First Past The Post electoral system, which barely qualifies as democratic rule within the democracy spectrum, seems to well-serve corporate interests. I believe it’s basically why those powerful interests generally resist attempts at changing from FPTP to proportional representation electoral systems of governance, the latter which dilutes lobbyist influence.

    From my understanding, when it comes to big-business friendly thus favored electoral systems, low-representation FPTP-elected governments, in which a relatively small portion of the country’s populace is actually electorally represented, are the easiest for lobbyists to manipulate or ‘buy’. It’s because in FPTP-elected governments, in regards to votes/voters and government accountability to them. A much more proportionately representative electoral system should create a greater challenge for the lobbyists; the resultant government, which much more proportionately represents the electorate as a whole, should be considerably harder for big business to steer — if at all, in some cases. …

    Unlike a few social/labor revolutions of the past, notably the Bolshevik and French revolutions, it seems to me that big business and the superfluously wealthy essentially have the police and military ready to foremost protect mega power and money interests, even over the environmental-stability needs of the protesting masses.

    I can imagine that there are/were lessons learned from them — a figurative How to Hinder Progressive Revolutions 101, perhaps? — with the clarity of hindsight by big power and money interests. The police and military can claim they must bust heads to maintain law and order as a priority; thus the absurdly unjust inequities and inequalities can persist.

  2. fgsjr2015 December 5, 2021 at 4:50 PM

    I basically agree. I also believe that any elected leader who would implement truly humanely great policies — e.g., genuinely anti-war, reducing military spending, anti-imperialism, universal single-payer healthcare, writing-off student deb, increasing the minimum wage, and reigning in Wall Street, etcetera — or at least seriously try, would likely be insidiously removed from office (if not assassinated), sooner rather than later.

    For example, I seriously doubt that the Biden administration would be permitted to make a notably practical improvement in poor and low-income Americans’ quality of life, regardless of how much Biden may or may not have wanted to deliver such greatly needed assistance.

    Also, the Democratic National Committee apparently refuses to allow a Bernie Sanders presidential candidacy, regardless of what Democratic Party members/voters want. For example, every county in West Virginia voted for Sanders in 2016, yet the DNC declared them as wins for Clinton, the latter candidate’s neo-liberalism, unlike Sanders’ fiscal-progressiveness, already known for not rubbing against any big business grain.

    Fiscal conservative ideology/politics, big business interests and most of the corporate mainstream news-media resist sufficiently progressive ideas from actually being implemented. They seem to favor big money interests over people. (Republican representatives may also be manipulating the Democratic Party hierarchy into making the latter’s fiscal politics/policies more conservative.)

    I believe that Western governances (especially that of my home nation, Canada) are heavily steered by corporate interests, sometimes through economic intimidation. This includes not only the fossil fuel industry, but also Big Development and Real Estate, and I’m not just talking about huge party donations come election time. To me, it’s as though the elected heads are meant to represent huge money interests over those of the working citizenry and poor. Accordingly, major political decisions will normally foremost reflect what is in the influential corporations’ best interests.

    Anyone who doubts the potent persuasion of huge business interests here need to consider how high-level elected officials can become crippled by implicit/explicit threats to transfer or eliminate jobs and capital investment, thus economic stability, if corporate ‘requests’ aren’t met. It’s a crippling that’s made even worse by a blaring news-media that’s permitted to be naturally critical of incumbent governments, especially in regards to job and capital transfers and economic weakening.

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