Monday, June 27, 2016

bruce wilder 06.26.16 at 8:05 pm

RP @ 317: I prefer to talk about neoliberalism vs conservatism.

Aren’t there different flavors of conservatism involved?

My right neoliberalism v left neoliberalism has always been based on the emergence of a narrow discourse anchored on the right by right-libertarian conservatives exemplified by Milton Friedman and his Chicago school heirs, not conservatism in its full breadth.

A second point is that “neoliberalism” is a kind of “fake” ideology, deliberately synthesized as a cover story. I am not sure anyone is a neoliberal, who isn’t paid to model neoliberalism in the political media. Milton Friedman et alia created a narrative that apologized for a policy agenda of reactionary, often authoritarian desiderata while denying any authoritarian intent — not just denying it, but adopting a rhetoric of freedom and choice. Charles Peters et alia did much the same, claiming the aegis of progressive intent and values for reactionary policy. Then, what became right and left neoliberalism figured out that they could legitimate each others’ views, policy projects and status, by arguing with each other almost exclusively. Their treatment of their respective flanks was not symmetrical: the left neoliberals had to hippy-punch to keep their street cred, while the right-neoliberals had to patronize, quiet and condescend to goldbugs, isolationists, christian dominionists and other crazies in their right milieu.

In British politics, a more organic right and left have broken the surface, and the neoliberals will work their magic to make those disappear. Corbyn isn’t a leader, because he was not a sufficiently fanatical advocate for the EU, you see. On the left, neoliberals will demand that Labour go all in for Remain, which looks to me to be electoral suicide on its surface, but it is critical for neoliberalism to insist otherwise.

I don’t know that I am sympathetic enough with Tories to understand Tory politics, though I understand that UKIP has been eroding the Labour base in a strategically important way, even as it has set up a fracture among the Tory elite about how to assemble an electoral coalition. Like many conservative parties, the elite leadership tends to be people oriented to social and economic dominance and much of the voting followership, the easily demagogued. Racism and resentment are tools of the trade that logically and historically precede any neoliberal ideology. Neoliberalism simply doesn’t present an effective tool to those who would practice certain forms of demagoguery, even though it works fine for the more cosmopolitan and prosperous Tory constituencies among the professional classes, where racism is a mere condiment.

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