Not sure what value this brings and apologies if this sounds like a nonsensical doomsday spiel, but looking through the causes and consequences, I don’t think neoliberalism does anything positive in the long-term for the health, growth, and wellbeing of a nation-state. This is obvious at this point even just looking purely at the US’s contemporary trajectory . . . but taking the past 20 years altogether gives us a far dire picture of what that means when considering the rejection of neoliberalism across the world, particularly South America.
Neoliberalism, applied with such a fundamentalist style upon education, healthcare, and the erosion of social services with a overemphasis on the free market fixing all issues seems to lay the groundwork for both anti-intellectualism as we’ve seen from ignorant masses who look for quick explanations to blame their troubles on people they see instead of policy decisions by the US government and for monopolistic markets to exploit the larger masses with lies about trickle-down and reasons behind war campaigns.
Crucially, and it’s a surprise nobody rebuffs neoliberalism for this, capitalist markets are far too myopic to focus on ongoing environmental and social issues that are needed to safeguard from cataclysmic environmental disasters. Free markets have to compete and their views, time, resources, and energy are motivated both by monetary gain and by effective measurements to surpass the competition and that’s often in a time-sensitive manner. The use of shock events like environmental disaster to spread neoliberalism implies massive disasters are useful and profitable for these myopic markets. That is blatantly dangerous for a plethora of environmental and human rights reasons. Yet, the myopic views of corporate organizations would be too blind to them.
Republican and Democrat tacit or openly willful support of policies that deregulate, shrink, or destabilize the safety net. Policies that leave large vacancies, and remove government assistance for not just the most at risk, but all individuals representing 90% of the public represents not just short-term narcissism by legislatures or myopia towards campaign contributions but a fundamental disregard for what government means for the people and what it does for the people. We see it clearly with gerrymandering and the criticism of the two-party system by the founders having become incredibly apparent . . . but also the lack of foresight in their thinking that legislatures should have a separateness from majority opinion. Such ideas have positives and negatives but we now see the negatives worsening. The Republican party’s deregulation and policies of economic drift is continuing to be motivated by fundamentalist Christians who feel pleasure and truth from assisting in the deregulatory efforts.
The leadership has similarly thoroughly eroded in solutions and options to complex issues. As we saw when the crop of neoliberal contenders for the Republican base failed to stop the sweeping tide of Trump’s blatantly racist rhetoric and liberals rejected Clinton in favor of Bernie due to policy preferences. The reason Trump won was primarily due to this empty belief in hope – immersed with nationalistic fervor and a yearning for a mythic view of yesteryears – and neoliberalist economic enthusiasts capitalized on it to further push a neoliberal agenda of deregulation mixed with a capricious modus operandi on everything else. Trump is not some masterful threat, that notion is laughable and I can’t regard it with any degree of seriousness, but what his presidency does mean is that anyone with somewhat more intelligence and guile could cause a situation not too far removed from Japanese encampment or even something more murderous and violent like the Holocaust. The fact Trump was successful and has no real policy objectives shows us this and shows that voters can easily be duped into thinking a clown is intelligent. We don’t, as a democratic nation-state, have the will, knowledge, or safeguards to prevent future horrific events. Many would even embrace tyranny… and destroy everything we purportedly stand for.
I feel now that, based on the ongoing wars that continue due to incompetence and the complete failures to formulate an effective foreign policy agenda or long-term plan for places we should have won years back, the dismantling of safety nets for common sense legislation like clean air, and the lack of foresight on what should be considered a principal national interest in environmental policies; what we’re experiencing, and have witnessed with the 20 years of self-damage from the debt, reckless Wall Street greed that came as a consequence of deregulation, and the fracturing of the middle class with the wider society now working 2 jobs just to survive; in conjunction with a decreasing faith in the US government and mainstream media . . . is demonstrable evidence that the end result of neoliberal fundamentalism is the enthusiastic self-annihilation of a nation-state. If a government doesn’t do anything for a people then, notwithstanding threats of violence, there leaves little that will be followed or inspired or even maintained in the long-term. Will the future of the US even be recognizable when compared to its past, if we keep seeing neoliberalist fundamentalism pushing everything in one bleak direction? I doubt it now and the track record is evidence that any turn around may be a small pebble in a vast ocean of bad policy design. The wage gaps, the economic divide between the wealthy and the poor, the rising tide of racial aggression, the massive debt, and the endless wars – all and everything, at it’s core, is due to the belief in the economic policy of neoliberalism.
Self-refuting and unsubstantiated
Please note: I’m not giving a negative review on the basis of the thesis of the argument. I’m giving a negative review because of how bafflingly self-refuting the author’s arguments were.
Reading this book, I held no real opinions on the matter. I was, to the best of my knowledge, impartial to the thesis being made. What I found bizarre was how inconsistent, arbitrary, and unfounded much of his arguments were.
I’ll just begin with the examples;
The most glaring self-contradiction is when he quoted an argument in favor of recognizing Shakespeare, the Bible, and Huckleberry Finn as part of the US canon . . . and one page later, he argues that the US canon is an evolving and diverse canon and that new books will replace old ones. Within the context of the argument, he was trying to dismiss arguments that any other culture should have their books as part of the US canon besides the aforementioned books, and that they had no significant impact in Western culture . . . but then lists noteworthy philosophers who expressed viewpoints that they themselves claimed were influenced by reading Hindu and Buddhist schools of thought from translations during the 1800s. Nietzsche, in particular, studied philology and based a lot of his views from assessing the pros and cons of Buddhism which he labeled as superior to Christianity and it’s known that the 1800s philology departments of Germany were translating and studying Indian languages and comparing them to Western languages to translate books from the East. The most baffling part of this is that he quoted several of the founders who claimed their connection to Western culture is dead and that the US culture will be distinct and separate from Western schools of thought as an argument in favor for a unique US culture, but seemed to confuse himself on what that meant since he’s then making arguments in contradiction to the founders intentions by arguing the US is a western culture.
What’s peculiar is that this author claims that US culture is heterogeneous but that any other culture that adapts to foreign influenced, especially Eastern culture making adaptions, is really just imitating the Western influences and shouldn’t reflect positively on those cultures. So, evidently, when the US is suppose to be heterogeneous and adaptable to other cultures, but shouldn’t adapt Eastern culture. And, if Eastern culture adapts and enjoys Western schools of thought, then it proves their inferior? Keep in mind, this man claims to be a historian but seems to be utterly ignorant of the systematic removal of “heathen” ideas of the East throughout several cultural campaigns in the West.
He claims ethnic studies should be taught . . . but then claims that ethnic studies aren’t needed except for Native Americans, because kids get their cultural background understandings from their families and he doesn’t seem to consider the timeframe of how long these families toil at work or have the chance to make a living. He celebrates West African children not knowing their cultural heritage or understanding their families native languages as proof of being more oriented towards US culture, but seems to ignore the fact this badly damages his previous argument that people maintain their cultural backgrounds from their families.
He claims Black Americans are the most inculcated in US culture because of the dislocation from native Africa, the destruction of their previous heritages, and the force fed adaption to whatever culture the White slave-owners forced upon them. He clearly states that Black Americans could be regarded as the most American. Then, he decries the horrors of teaching this false history in New York schools. The problem is though, having grown-up in New York State, I can freely say that he’s wrong about all this racial overemphasis without regard for history. The only international class we had was focused on European history exclusively. We never learned anything about Africa besides their relation to the slave trade with Europe. His arguments about this anti-intellectual falsehood of Black history supposedly began in 1987 . . . but if that’s the case, then I never once experienced it in the early 2000s. Looking back at it, all the author really did was cherrypick stupid quotes to make sweeping generalizations. It is genuinely untrue that any of this farce that he talks about ever happened in NY State high schools. All I learned was European history and that was it. He made such a big deal out of this, quoting stupid comments over and over, and none of it had any truth to it or any impact on the educational system. What I found particularly disgusting was that he’s unwilling to condemn or recognize human genocides of multiple ethnic groups who want their trials and tribulations recognized in history books, but there is a strong rejection of this in favor of a stupid set of half-truths and outright falsehoods being taught in the education system today about US history. Half of the work is basically telling kids they’re wrong about what the education system taught them in first grade. It’s pathetic.
Much like his argument against the person who made the film Roots, he criticizes him for only going by his mother’s genealogy and not his father’s, who led all the way back to Irish descent. Yet, that isn’t a good argument against racism by the West. The Irish were forced into slavery and sold to South America under British rule, suffered a horrible genocidal famine orchestrated by a racist lunatic who oversaw the problems with the corn and potato famine, and purposefully killed 2 million Irish people with their terrible policies. And, then the surviving refugees in the US suffered racist policies by anti-Catholics who discriminated them for their Irish heritage. The author, yet again, refuted their own argument.
The last portion made me raise an eyebrow. He argues that the Left has gone too far with ethnic issues . . . and then makes a total non-sequitur argument using ableism as an example of the Left taking social justice too far. Ableism is the discrimination against people with handicap issues in jobs, school facilities, shopping centers, and tourism. I honestly began shaking my head over the callous disregard for the plight of handicap people and wondered why he would list this as a trite and worthless issue. Disabled people, especially children, most assuredly need to have areas that help assist with their disabilities.
Overall, the thesis is unsubstantiated, and I honestly have no idea how someone could write a book that contradicted itself with no ability to make discernible or meaningful points on what they’re arguing or what the end product of his ideas would even look like. Finally, if it’s wrong to have an ethnocentric cult-like culture – which I don’t disagree with – why then emphasize the West’s ethnocentricity to rebuke the ethnocentric narrative?