Book Notes: The Neoliberal Paradox

The negatives of Ray Kiely’s The Neoliberal Paradox (2018) are:

– endless signposting. There is a ton of buildup where the author promises to announce something earth-shattering at some future point (but not before he reiterates everything he already said five times). But the big revelation always turns out to be something quite trivial.

– too much quoting. It’s great that Kiely collected absolutely anything anybody ever said about neoliberalism. But there is almost none of author’s own text in the book. It’s just quotes connected by signposting.

– a ridiculous amount of repetition.

– Kiely knows he needs to talk about the Third World if he wants to discuss neoliberalism. He knows it and he says so. But he finds anything but the UK and the US deathly boring, so he always ends up saying “to understand how this works in underdeveloped countries, it’s important first to discuss the UK.” After 120 pages of the minutest detail on the UK, though, everything else is forgotten.

– the author tries to make an argument that British Brexiteers are more neoliberal than the Remainers. And that Bernie Sanders is less neoliberal than any other politician because “he’s unlikely” to use market principles in governance. Which is a childish argument.

And now for the big reveal. What is the neoliberal paradox that Kiely promises to unveil to the world at the end of 300+ very repetitive pages?

Ready for it?

Really ready for it?

OK, here goes.

The paradox is that neoliberals decry government yet they also need it to advance their preferred policies.

Yeah. Not exactly earth-shatteringly new information but yes, whatever. This point has only been made a million times before, so why not make it again.

Neoliberal Progressivism

A few hours after Sen. Kamala Harris of California challenged former Vice President Joe Biden on his civil rights record, her presidential campaign seized the moment to sell “That Girl Was Me” T-shirts.

God, how pathetic. Not only is her “I’m a victim of racism” spiel a total lie but she’d trying to profit off it. This was all planned in advance to make money.

I dread the moment when some extremely white person (because who else?) at work will show up in this shirt and I’ll have to keep a straight face.

Staring at the Sky

Today I spent an hour staring at the sky. It was intense. I highly recommend.

The way it came about is that among the many things I get sent for review was one of those huge inflatable swimming pools that are big enough for a whole family. Yesterday I tried it out with Klara but today I took an hour just for myself. OK, it was more like an hour forty minutes.

Try it (the sky-gazing, not the pool), even if it’s just for 15 minutes. It’s really cool.


So weird. People actually think Kamala Harris did well yesterday. To me she looked either heavily medicated or high on recreational drugs. Unstable and creepy.

It’s possible to be a female candidate and behave with dignity. Gabbard and Klobuchar did it with ease. Gillibrand, whom I otherwise detest, looked composed, too. So it’s possible not to look unhinged onstage.

Social Dynamics of Fairytale Land

I finally figured out why people around here are so unsociable. Local Facebook helped me figure it out.

Our small town is surrounded by many other small towns. The way it works in the US is that these towns bleed into each other. There’s no “empty space” between them and no firmly demarcated boundaries.

My town is considered the richest one. People from neighboring towns (that are a 5-minute drive away) call us “the fairytale land.” We have the most expensive restaurants and coffee shops, whole subdivisions filled with mansions, the most racially integrated neighborhoods, the greatest number of languages spoken on the playground, and the greatest ethnic diversity of high-earning immigrants.

There is a lot of resentment in the neighboring little towns (some of which are opioid country and completely dying out) against my town’s $12 avocado toast joints with bicycles attached to juice blenders. Many people from neighboring villages bust their asses to buy a house in our area code to get access to the good schools and the fancy life but soon discover that they are shut out by the new neighbors.

Since there is no way to know who exactly belongs in the Fairytale Land and who just drove in from the neighboring places, people police the boundaries of interpersonal relationships and avoid all contact with anyone they aren’t completely sure is a native of the Fairytale Land.

The Betrayal of Labor

It’s really creepy that the Left is now aggressively about socializing the costs of doing business for the worst, most rapacious and anti-labor players in the business world. And it’s very sad that the Left’s sellout of labor is now complete. Used to be the Dem establishment did all this but now this pro-business, anti-labor mentality has conquered the entire Left.

Teaching Advice

OK, really bad idea. It’s passive-aggressive and it’s putting a person on the spot. If you really need to make an issue out of it, talk to the student alone after class, drop the royal we, and lose the fake emotionality.

A kid throws a tantrum in class. “Wow, you’re really struggling with self-control. Can you tell me why? Are you hungry or


If it’s a toddler who throws tantrums because he’s hungry, it’s idiotic to expect him to self-diagnose and understand the expression “struggling with self-control.” If it’s an older kid, she’ll see this as infantilizing.

I’m all into compassion and treating students as human beings. I also don’t believe in punishment. But compassion and condescension are not the same thing.


The person who would refuse to raise their hand in answer to whether they want free healthcare for illegal immigrants would easily become the front-runner. It isn’t even about healthcare or immigrants (although the position itself is beyond deranged). It’s about not being a stupid drone incapable to resist the party’s small but loud faction of crazies.

If somebody stood up on this, it would make every headline. And it’s such an easy thing to do because as policy the idea is completely unfeasible even if somebody could pass it and defend it in court (which they can’t).

There’s everything to win and nothing to lose. And yet they didn’t dare. Stupid, useless drones.