The Trajectory of Neoliberalism in the US

In the US, Republicans were the original champions of neoliberalism. Reagan was the first completely and fanatically neoliberal president. He aggressively exported neoliberal policies around the world. As one of the consequences of his neoliberal fanaticism, he was deeply committed to destroying the welfare state and opening borders. The Reagan Amnesty of 1986 is a clear example of that.

Democrats originally resisted neoliberalism. They were for welfare and worker rights. Recently, however, the leftist wing of the party embraced neoliberalism and started promoting its agenda fully and aggressively.

In the meantime, a small faction of the Republican party has gotten disillusioned with neoliberalism and now favors stepping back from it, at least to a degree.

Currently, we are seeing a confrontation between the outdated neoliberalism of the second half of the twentieth century that most Republican politicians cling to in spite of their base’s growing disgust with it and an updated neoliberalism of the 21 century practiced by the Democrats.

Trump fed into the Republican base’s disgust with the party’s fanatical adherence to the neoliberal dogma and won. Bernie fed into this disgust on the Democratic side and lost because there wasn’t enough rage against it in his party.

In the end, however, neoliberalism will win because it’s not solely about economic policy. It’s also a subjectivity. Our way of relating to ourselves and the world. Once you conquer the subjectivity, you have conquered everything else. And that’s already a fait accompli.

In the next post, I will give a list of symptoms of the neoliberal subjectivity so that everybody knows what I’m talking about. The list doesn’t originate from me. I’ve compiled it on the basis of my readings of Zygmunt Bauman, Patricia Ventura, Wendy Brown, Dardot and Laval, Ulrich Beck, Jim McGuigan, Cesar Rendueles, and others. A full bibliography is provided upon request. 😁

3 thoughts on “The Trajectory of Neoliberalism in the US”

  1. Well, some Democrats resisted. Reagan had a Democratic Congress, after all, and Bill Clinton did plenty of neoliberal stuff (though not as much as a Republican would’ve; I don’t think anyone less neoliberal could’ve held the presidency at that time, so I don’t hold it against him too much.) Back then though, there was a progressive wing that resisted neoliberalism. There are still some Democrats who do, but people deride them as right wing. People literally thing a progressive position on trade is right wing because it reminds them of Trump’s position. Probably being against outsourcing is now “xenophobic” or “racist.”


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