Pronoun Snowflake and Paleo Dude

Here’s an interesting idea from Gary Gerstle’s book (which is the best book I have read on neoliberalism, and I have read a couple of library aisles of them).

He says that almost all Democrats and Republicans embraced neoliberalism by mid-1990s. Their differences (known as culture wars) were these:

1. Democrats embraced cosmopolitanism and the belief in malleable identities because both make people more marketable. You can both sell them better on the market as goods (to Big Pharma, for instance) and help them sell themselves (as transportable labor).

2. Republicans embraced “new Victorianism” that made people more resilient, disciplined, contained, and in that way better able to handle the cruelty of the markets.

So ultimately, a rainbow-haired genderfluid “zie” snowflake on TikTok and a trad Paleo fitness dude on Twitter are reacting to the same thing. They are brothers in arms. Or, rather, a brother and a genderless sibling.

Gerstle thinks that the neoliberal order will one day fall apart because the pronoun snowflake and the trad dude would walk too far away from each other and rip it.

(The Paleo Dude and the Pronoun Snowflake are my invention. Please don’t go looking for them in Gary Gerstle’s book).

Feed Me Lies

It’s interesting that people who detest Reagan and Thatcher feel nothing nearing that degree of opprobrium towards Clinton and Blair who not only continued Reagan’s and Thatcher’s deregulation but magnified it to an extraordinary degree.

Weirdly, Carter who started it and Clinton who took it to extraordinary heights are never really blamed for neoliberalization like Reagan who was not the first nor the last to do it. Reagan was the most open and honest about it while Carter and Clinton hid behind slick speeches about how much they cared. To me, that would be a reason to despise the Cs and respect the R but, apparently, people prefer to be lied to.

Neoliberal Fear

One thing that I always wondered about in regards to our neoliberal administrators is why they are so mean. How hard would it be to say, “Look, I know this sucks. It’s very hard, I completely understand but it has to be done”? You’d think it’s the easiest thing to say, and then people don’t hate you.

On Tuesday we had an administrator speak to us, a group of almost 40 people. I know him well from before he went into admin. This is a guy who has no difficulty with turning up the charm, being sweet. Students always adored him because he could be very personable. It must have been hard to stand in front of a group where everybody hates you. But instead of trying to show (or fake, whatever) kindness and understanding, he kept attacking people in very nasty ways. It was completely unnecessary because the decisions he was defending in this way aren’t his own.

But I finally figured it out. They are so nasty because they are terrified. Not of the higher-ups but of the neoliberal worldview they have espoused. They are lashing out not for any utilitarian reasons but because they can’t deal with the fear and loneliness of living within the mentality where everything is always your own fault. Seeing yourself as an entrepreneur of your self is scary. They are terrified of finding out that bad things can happen to people who didn’t mismanage themselves, who didn’t do anything wrong. That would undermine their entire, utterly commercialized mindset.

The poor buggers have painted themselves into this corner and can’t see a way out.

Immaterial Advantage

Xi went to Russia, signed a joint statement with Putin about the importance of nuclear non-proliferation. Two days later – literally, two days – Putin moved nukes into Belarus, creating a new nuclear state in the world. The desire to humiliate Xi couldn’t possibly be more obvious.

One keeps hearing, “Asian people are so proud. The most important thing for them is not to lose face publicly.” What did Xi do when Putin casually made him look ineffectual and unnecessary after Xi went to the trouble of making a personal visit?

He swallowed and said, “thank you, sir.”

The belief that rich, strong countries always dominate the poorer, weaker ones is based on interiorized Marxism. In reality – as opposed to a materialist fantasy – it doesn’t work like that. Size truly doesn’t matter. What matters is whether you know that you have something amazing to offer the world. If you do, a barren little peninsula topples gigantic empires and a small island with weird weather makes the whole world speak its language.

The opposite is true, too. There are many examples of huge, powerful empires dismantling themselves because there’s no longer a feeling of purpose.