It is possible that many in this country are now beginning to understand exactly what Neoliberalism is all about. Remarks continue to be made to the whole world by politicians and certain wealthy individuals that place money above human lives. They seem to accept this as a matter-of-fact and are unapologetic. Let’s be clear about exactly what is being put on the table: profit-seeking is actually going to kill people and our “leaders” are good with that. The 1 percent do not seem to understand that most of us are NOT good with that. We really are not good with that. It might be the propaganda that has been pushed for the last half a century about anything being “free” as communistic/atheistic/satanistic will keep the masses confused for awhile but…
Humans are afflicted with a psychological feature that, as I have often stated on this blog, may just end us. We deny, we lie, we make up stuff when we don’t like the reality we are living (or dying) in. It is in fact our greatest evolutionary adaption. We imagine the best possible future and then try to turn that lie we made up into the truth. It is amazing when you think about it and it is incredible how well it has worked for our species. However, most of the species that have existed on this planet are now extinct. That we somehow are totally convinced such an event cannot possibly happen to the human race is the reality we are living and dying in. And there is the problem: we have a useful life of around a half a century and then we, as individuals, die. We have no reason to care about the future of our species when each of us, in reality, has no future.
For the last couple millennia of history humans have based their societies on various mixes of the standard hierarchy of upper, middle, and lower class. Only recently have these classes come to be understood in economic terms- they meant something different before the modern world. The nobility, the clergy, and the peasantry have been the normal structure of civilization since before the pyramids were built. The nobility inherited power and the clergy kept the nobility in power while the peasantry were persuaded to support these two higher classes. Neoliberalism has made money the god of this world, and those with the money are the nobility. The clergy have been replaced by the media and academia. These powerful and wise ones keep the other 99 percent distracted and deceived by various myths and false narratives. And some small truths.
The French Revolution, at the very beginning of the industrial age, and the Russian Revolution, at the height of the industrial age, were the two benchmark events every person on Earth should be versed in. By dividing history into three parts- before the 1st revolution, between the two revolutions, and after the second revolution- it is possible to see exactly where we are right now. And we have to know where we are if we are going to find our way out of this mess without wandering into another dark age. The most accurate way to frame Neoliberalism is to show it between two examples, the first being the Roman Empire long before the 1st revolution, and the second being the Third Reich shortly after the 2nd revolution. Rome ran on slaves and Nazi Germany was about genocide instead of money, but they both are intimately associated with the worship of power in key ways. Neoliberalism mistakenly identifies money as true power.
The myth of Neoliberalism is that money is somehow a stand-alone instrument and exists by itself, as a “real property.” Money has actually always been a tool of the state and NOT a feature of private individual ownership. The state allows the individual to possess only a certain amount of power in the form of money. Why the code word for greed in Neoliberal jargon is “freedom” is found in a refutation of this state control. This money-as-ultimate-power handed over to the individual is of course an illusion. Rome survived in a world filled with violent warring super-tribes by making the power of the state a force to be worshiped. Fascism mesmerized the population of Germany into the same cult worship by playing on racism and fears of a Jewish super-tribe. Now we have a new cult.
Neoliberalism hypnotizes human beings into believing money itself is the magical supernatural force that is actually in control of the world. Instead of recognizing it as having been created by powerful states for political purposes it is bizarrely worshiped as being above humanity and the ultimate purpose of civilization. The reason money has become deified is the myth of scarcity. In the past various world events made it absolutely crystal clear to human beings what true scarcity was. Now that nuclear weapons, refrigeration, antibiotics, and modern technology have made scarcity itself relatively scarce (in the western world anyway) we have forgotten what war, famine, and pestilence are. This has allowed money to become all important when before it was food, clean water, medicine, and a safe place to live that was paramount. In times of crisis money would not buy anything. Now we believe money is all that matters. A sea change in human perception.
Gerard K. O’Neill saw poverty as the driver of all conflict and misery on Earth and believed unlimited energy and eventually unlimited Lebensraum in space would be the solution. The greed that drives consumerism in this world is now the true driver as it inexorably redistributes wealth from the many to the few. A smaller and smaller percentage of the wealthy prey on the larger and larger percentage of the poor until the inevitable crisis event push those who realize they are little better off than slaves to revolt. It is the cycle of empire where the citizen farmer is eventually driven from his land and his loved ones lose everything to a ravenous ruling class. It is the French and Russian revolutions played out ad infinitum.
Except…nothing is forever and in this modern world of almost 8 billion people we may not see the rise and fall of any more empires. We may see the end of our species. We now have a small number of individuals, several who are obvious sociopaths, controlling much of wealth of the planet. In the 19th century we had the robber barons of the gilded age and our country suffered from the sickness of unrestrained greed up until the crash of 1929. But there is actually nothing in history that compares to the incredible wealth being hoarded now.
While our present pandemic, if completely bungled by Trump, will kill at most a million or two, Climate Change is on track to kill billions. My daughter was asking me about why everyone is just going along with it and I told her most people are NOT “going along with it”; they just have zero power to do anything about it. I recall a few months ago a coworker was talking about Central American refugees not fixing their own countries and coming here and I had to explain it to him: if they do anything that is not putting money into the pocket of the local gang then someone with a gun will put a stop to it. This is essentially how empires have done it since Rome. Anywhere on Earth at any time in history the story is the same.
A place where some are worked half to death and live in squalor while a small number live in luxury will find people asking the question, “why do they do so little and have everything while my life is spent working to give them everything?” It will be explained to the person that everyone agrees the rich “own” everything so they get everything. And if it becomes unbearable the many will revolt and risk everything to make it bearable. This simple disagreement explains most of the history of the human race. .