Here’s proof that people love neoliberalism and wouldn’t let it go. The recent race for Mayor of Chicago was won by an ultra neoliberal BLMster, a fanatical proponent of de-funding public services, supported by the pro-lockdown teacher union that is in favor of dramatically downsizing public education.
After the Chicago riots of 2020, after the terrible increases in violent crime, after the worst lockdowns in the nation, after thousands of black kids in Chicago were thrown out of locked schools and into illiteracy / depression / gang life… people go and vote for more of the same.
Voter turnout was something like 35%, so most people couldn’t get assed to care either way.
As I said before, Gary Gerstle’s book The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order is the best I’ve read on neoliberalism. Ever. And I’ve read obsessively on the topic starting in the late 1990s. (For obvious reasons, given that I lived in Ukraine back then).
The book is amazingly well-written. It simply is never boring. The writing is very accessible and never gets bogged down in unnecessary details. Gerstle has a rare talent to explain very complicated things clearly. The book is non-partisan, measured, and calm.
There is one subject that invariably turns Gerstle into a bleating lunatic, warping his judgment and making him erupt in strings of boring, overly excited slogans. He’s American, so we can all figure out what that subject is. But if you skip those parts, it’s a brilliant book.
Gary Gerstle believes that the degree to which the rhetoric of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump resonated with the masses is proof that the neoliberal order has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people.
I think he’s wrong.
Neoliberalism, by its nature, glamorizes dissent. And by doing so renders it impotent.
Think about the commercialization of Che Guevara portraits. That’s a perfect example. Or armchair Communists at Berkeley. This is another example. Nobody calls themselves “a neoliberal.” It’s not prestigious or cool. Being a revolutionary is. Drain the swamp! Down with the 1%! You feel edgy and important, even though absolutely nothing whatsoever is actually achieved.
Ranting and raving against “the system” while doing absolutely everything to keep it in place is the favorite neoliberal pastime. Yes, Trump and Sanders loudly denounced neoliberalism. But what has either of them actually done against it? Absolutely nothing.
To the contrary, they have created an illusion that attending the BLM / Trump rallies (which are the exact same thing) means actually doing something to thwart the system. But it’s the opposite. These carnavalesque events help both the participants and the outraged spectators who watch them on TV to let off steam and reconcile themselves to reality.
In a less cartoonish way, my posts about neoliberalism serve the same purpose for me. But at least I’m honest in that I’m not ready to let neoliberalism go. It simply won’t go until we want it to, and I think we don’t. It’s too much fun.
I chair a department that offers 8 languages.
I’m developing three new courses for the next academic year.
I work as a translator and interpreter.
I’m writing a book in Ukrainian.
I’m writing an article in Spanish.
I’m writing a book chapter in English.
I serve on the executive board of two scholarly associations.
I do a lot of public speaking.
I read voraciously in 4 languages.
I take online classes in Spain and Ukraine.
I have an intense relationship with my husband.
And with all this, I’m still struggling with letting Klara go as she enters the first major stage of separation. I’m aware that I struggle, which by itself guarantees that I won’t torture her too much with my resistance. The scary situations are when the mother doesn’t struggle because she internally forbade the separation.
We hear a lot of talk about young people’s failure to launch but it’s not their failure. Nor is it the fault of the “bad economy” because nobody heard of this issue in, say, Dickensian England with its much harsher economic circumstances. It’s the failure of parents to let go. I’m saying honestly that it’s very hard. I have a very full life, yet I still feel the loss.