By Brandon Richard
Neoliberalism is inescapable. Yet as frequently as the term is used, there’s a remarkable amount of disagreement about its usefulness – and sometimes its very meaning. Some argue that the word should be abandoned as jargon, or a meaningless term of abuse. Others protest that it is politically confusing, since it describes Reaganomics and Thatcherism just as easily as Clintonism and Blairism. Nevertheless, the term is too important and too widely used to be jettisoned. So let’s nail it down: What actually is neoliberalism?
By Michael Hirsch
My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency
By Doug Henwood, OR Books, 2016
Trump Unveiled: Exposing the Bigoted Billionaire
By John K. Wilson, OR Books, 2016
What an election! First, shock and bore throughout; then, fright night. During the course of the tortuous presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton and the feral Donald Trump both had large, tub-thumping support sections and ample rubbishers. With the outcome now history, is there any reason to reopen the trash bin? I think yes, because two books released during the campaign elaborate on far more than its detritus. They warn not only that the struggle against far-right nativism and neoliberal austerity continues but also that the political center is cracked.
In the late 1960s, I was teaching at a community college in upstate New York. Among the books I assigned to my students was Betty Freidan’s The Feminine Mystique. It usually generated good discussions, perhaps the most interesting of which was the gender gap in the response to the question I would ask about expectations for the household division of labor (including childcare and home care) in their future lives. The young women turned out to be better predictors of where the future was going than the young men.
Maybe the young men were thinking about 1900, when 1 in 5 women in the U.S. – and only 1 in 20 married women – were in the wage labor force. Or the reality that their mothers were doing 6 hours of housework labor for every 1 expended by fathers. Maybe the young women were envisioning a society – like today’s U.S. - when 3 of every 5 women, both overall and those married, work for wages. And they understood that human labor time is not indefinitely expandable.
Michael Lighty helped to kick off DSA’s two-year national strategy review at our 2013 national convention by arguing that neoliberal capitalism’s belief that “there is no society, just individuals,” (as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher claimed) yields a politics of austerity and environmental degradation which impoverishes children, guts pensions, and threatens the future of the planet.