The Neoliberal Myth of Meritocracy

I wrote this essay nearly a year ago, and I am recycling it because it explains why those in the seats of power refuse to do anything to help the average citizen. It is more than just greed. It is more like a religious belief that they are better than the rest of us. It infects both parties, but it has been exposed for the rest of the world to see just how deeply embedded this philosophy is within the Democratic party. Meritocracy forms the bedrock of neoliberalism. I hope JtC won't mind that I republish this essay with a few small updates.

As many of you may already know, Thomas Frank has a book out titled, Listen Liberal: Or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People. In this book, Frank examines how the Democratic Party abandoned its traditional commitments to the working class, the poor, and those in the greatest need.

In an April 26, 2016, New York Time book review, Beverly Gage noted that Frank's book, Listen Liberal, is a scathing indictment of the liberal class and particularly the Democratic party.

Echoing the historian Lily Geismer, Frank argues that the Democratic Party — once “the Party of the People” — now caters to the interests of a “professional-managerial class” consisting of lawyers, doctors, professors, scientists, programmers, even investment bankers. These affluent city dwellers and suburbanites believe firmly in meritocracy and individual opportunity, but shun the kind of social policies that once gave a real leg up to the working class. In the book, Frank points to the Democrats’ neglect of organized labor and support for Nafta as examples of this sensibility, in which “you get what you deserve, and what you deserve is defined by how you did in school.”

This mindset of the neoliberal class based upon meritocracy is a major contributing factor to wealth inequality in the United States and yet most Americans fail to see the linkage. As Thomas Frank so deftly pointed out in his book, there is a real arrogance of the neoliberal class toward the rest of us and such was clearly demonstrated in the words of Larry Summers who has served as Treasury Secretary, President of Harvard, and former chief economist for the World Bank.

“One of the reasons that inequality has probably gone up in our society is that people are being treated closer to the way that they’re supposed to be treated,” Summers commented early in the Obama administration.

“Remember, as you let that last sentence slide slowly down your throat, that this was a Democrat saying this,” Frank writes. From this mind-set stems everything that the Democrats have done to betray the masses, from Bill Clinton’s crime bill and welfare reform policies to Obama’s failure to rein in Wall Street, according to Frank.

This belief in "meritocracy" forms the core basis for neoliberalism. Meritocracy theoretically rewards individuals with power and wealth based upon their merit only while ignoring the structural reasons why some individuals can more easily succeed due to family wealth and or connections. Such connections can result in legacy appointments to the right schools and family connections to facilitate success. The belief in meritocracy is widely accepted in the United States despite much evidence to the contrary.

Americans are more likely to believe that people are rewarded for their intelligence and skills and are less likely to believe that family wealth plays a key role in getting ahead. And Americans’ support for meritocratic principles has remained stable over the last two decades despite growing economic inequality, recessions, and the fact that there is less mobility in the United States than in most other industrialized countries.

In a December 2015 article in the Atlantic, The False Promise of Meritocracy, author Marianne Cooper examines how skewed the idea of meritocracy is within the real world and why it has greatly contributed to the exacerbation of income inequality in the United States. Studies of hiring and promotions in companies has shown that there is nearly always a bias toward white males when compared to minorities and women.

The paradox of meritocracy builds on other research showing that those who think they are the most objective can actually exhibit the most bias in their evaluations. When people think they are objective and unbiased then they don’t monitor and scrutinize their own behavior. They just assume that they are right and that their assessments are accurate. Yet, studies repeatedly show that stereotypes of all kinds (gender, ethnicity, age, disability etc.) are filters through which we evaluate others, often in ways that advantage dominant groups and disadvantage lower-status groups. For example, studies repeatedly find that the resumes of whites and men are evaluated more positively than are the identical resumes of minorities and women.

In a recent article for In These Times, author Thomas Frank looks at the city of Boston as microcosm of neo-liberalism and the culture of meritocracy. Boston stands out as an example of a once strongly blue collar liberal city that has abandoned its working class in favor of high paying medical and academic industries. What has resulted is a class of people who are doing very well while the rest of the population is stagnating or losing ground financially.

To think about it slightly more critically, Boston is the headquarters for two industries that are steadily bankrupting middle America: big learning and big medicine, both of them imposing costs that everyone else is basically required to pay and which increase at a far more rapid pace than wages or inflation. A thousand dollars a pill, 30 grand a semester: the debts that are gradually choking the life out of people where you live are what has made this city so very rich.

Perhaps it makes sense, then, that another category in which Massachusetts ranks highly is inequality. Once the visitor leaves the brainy bustle of Boston, he discovers that this state is filled with wreckage—with former manufacturing towns in which workers watch their way of life draining away, and with cities that are little more than warehouses for people on Medicare. According to one survey, Massachusetts has the eighth-worst rate of income inequality among the states; by another metric it ranks fourth. However you choose to measure the diverging fortunes of the country’s top 10% and the rest, Massachusetts always seems to finish among the nation’s most unequal places.

The big problem here is not that income inequality is due to a myriad of neoliberal excuses such as lack of training for the new economy or that unions are the causes. But in reality, it is the greed of the rent seeking neoliberal class that is defining aspect of the neoliberal ideology and that somehow meritocracy should be rewarded when the deck is stacked against most of the American workforce.

No where did we see the way that the meritocracy thinks than in the Hillary Clinton campaign. Hillary Clinton simply could not grasp populism. Populism is for people outside her own class and it was beyond her ability to either understand it or grasp the impact of it upon the Presidential campaign.

In "Shattered," a new autopsy of Hillary Clinton's campaign, authors Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes say Clinton failed to understand the rise of populism surrounding candidates like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Here is a link to a short video in which the authors discuss Clinton's reaction to populism. The members of the meritocracy such as Hillary Clinton and most of those running the Democratic party are so far removed from real people, they can not even understand the electorate.

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Miss your many great contributions to the site, and btw, happy birthday again.

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"Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

gulfgal98's picture

@dkmich I am into the higher mathematics range of birthdays now. Shok

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

@gulfgal98 you're supposed to count backwards. Or like Jack Benny, be forever 29.

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There is no such thing as TMI. It can always be held in reserve for extortion.

@ghotiphaze

understandable slip.

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The Aspie Corner's picture

Worse than the average Horatio Alger rags to riches myth. Not to mention people with disabilities almost never get anywhere within it. There are very few exceptions to the rule (Like Stephen Hawking), but that's true with any disenfranchised group. Still, that doesn't change the fact that we, along with the elderly are the most ignored sections of society.

Funnily enough, younger people are deliberately being kept out of the very careers they're trained to work in. Why else would you see college educated millennials working 3 or four shit jobs for shittier wages just to stay afloat?

More training? More education? More certification? My ass. With a week or two of training I can work laps around people who have been working with databases for years. And they know it.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Aspie Corner Doesn't matter whether you take the much-education route or not; if you're not rich or well-connected, chances are you will not get access to the fast track--or even the slow track--to success.

For those of us hopeful, eager, achievement-oriented types from the bottom 80% of the economic ladder, I'd say the best chance of getting picked for jobs or promotions rests not on academic achievement, intelligence, or the ability to do competent work, but on one's ability to kiss ass.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Reward for achievement beats reward for birth. The problem is not meritocracy, but a lack of recognition of the part played by luck. At worst it is Calvinism, wherein if you are poor that proves that God hates you so you must be an evil person. We should be blind to birth, race, gender, religion. We just have to realize that unlike Lake Woebegone, we can't all be above average and their is no sin in being poor or of little talent as long as one strives to be fair and work at the best of their ability, however small that is.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness
is the current "winner take all" conception of meritocracy. There was a meritocracy in the 50s and 60s, for white males probably more open than today's. But there was nothing like the kind of inequality we experience now. The children of the 1% didn't get that much more talented in 40 years.

Germany is an advanced industrial economy.It's level of inequality is far less than ours, and that includes the monumental task of integrating east Germans into the western economy. You don't get that kind of productivity by stealing from the best and the brightest.

The United States Government has become a mechanism for taking from everyone else to give to those at the top.

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@FuturePassed If you got what you have by inheritance (children of the 1%) you are an aristocrat.

Aristocrats have always claimed that they were superior to "the lowers".

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness There's two levels of problem here. One is that the Calvinist-derived meritocracy we've got in this country is nasty and poisonous and not to be trusted with the well-being of a social organism.

Just as importantly, there's the problem that the current version of meritocracy is a lie. It's not a poisonous set of ideas that is honest and internally coherent. An intelligent, hardworking person from the bottom 20% of the economic ladder will probably never even get noticed; if you're from the middle 50%, you'll get strung along for a while, but a less-skilled, less-intelligent person from the top 10% will always get the job over you.

It can't be a meritocracy only for the bottom 70-80% of the economic ladder, while the children of the top 20% always, magically, remain employed and wealthy.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness Meritocracy, as it's currently practiced (which is deceitful and hypocritical), looks pretty much like an aristocracy to me.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

gulfgal98's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal has created a new aristocracy.

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@gulfgal98 Not a very good one. In fact, much worse than the one we had before we started this republican (small-r) experiment.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

ggersh's picture

“ACCORDING TO THE CHRISTIAN MYTHOLOGY, [CHRIST] DIED ON THE CROSS NOT FOR HIS OWN SINS BUT FOR THE SINS OF THE NON-IDEAL PEOPLE... IF I WERE A CHRISTIAN, NOTHING COULD MAKE ME MORE INDIGNANT THAN THAT: THE NOTION OF SACRIFICING THE IDEAL TO THE NON-IDEAL, OR VIRTUE TO VICE. AND IT IS IN THE NAME OF THAT SYMBOL THAT MEN ARE ASKED TO SACRIFICE THEMSELVES FOR THEIR INFERIORS." AYN RAND

https://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2017/04/stocks-and-precious-me...

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Food for thought....why do most polls usually come out in the 50/50
range, when the Princeton study shows it as a 60/40 70/30 on issues
that americans want

@ggersh

pits "the ideal" against the "non ideal", by assuming that strength and weakness are the definitive poles of human virtue. Her value-scale upholds a strictly limited, and counter-factual vision of actual human experience. It relegates essential human attributes and abilities -- such as compassion, generosity, self-sacrifice, and love for example -- to positions of secondary or minor importance in determining the over-all nature of the human character.

The idea that the strong are always, or even usually superior to the weak, is ridiculous on the face of it. All too often, the strong are merely greedier, luckier, more cunning, more ambitious, more ruthless, or more violent than the weak. Such qualities and/or circumstances don't make anyone "superior" -- though they do give the strong an ability to rule, and to determine the fates of others.

If strength (in and of itself) were truly an accurate measure of value, then humanity would not be so often plagued by strife and discord as it has been. On the contrary, the attainment of power has usually represented anything but the attainment of virtue.

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native

gulfgal98's picture

@native I referenced Ayn Rand and objectivism in the essay in this series about neoliberalism and the lack of empathy.

Empathy has no place in the neo-liberal ideology. In fact, much of the neo-liberal ideology is parallel to that of objectivism, an ideology developed by Ayn Rand.

Of course, there are people in human society who do not believe that taxes are "the price of civilisation", and do not believe that government should provide collective services. From a psychological point of view, these people appear to have a severe lack of empathy.

These people are generally today called "economic liberals", "neoliberals", or "conservatives". Modern-day Neoliberalism has its roots in the thinking of Ayn Rand, who developed a philosophy called "Objectivism". The key value in this philosophy can be summarised as "the virtue of selfishness" (also the name of one of Rand's most famous books). Conventional morality (in effect, what we understand as "empathy"), is turned on its head.

..

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

@gulfgal98

the rather shallow ethics of Ms Rand, and you run into Nietzche -- a much tougher nut to crack.

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native

ggersh's picture

@native Greenspan was a disciple along with being the FED chairman for
both D and R prez's. there is a reason why he was called "the maestro"
having a care about people especially amerikans isn't one of them.

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Food for thought....why do most polls usually come out in the 50/50
range, when the Princeton study shows it as a 60/40 70/30 on issues
that americans want

@ggersh

Personally, I suspect that if this particular(ly ugly) person hadn't existed, they'd have found another fictional character/novel/movie/obnoxiously egotistical novelist to form what's apparently supposed to provide an excuse - framed as a philosophy - for their unsustainably destructive pathology.

These are not 'elites' - the best of the best - or 'aristocratic' in any sense. Such as these self-worshiping, self-deluding ignoramuses form, depending upon characteristics, the Parasite Class/The Psychopath Class and should be so named when identified, rather than allowed the flattery of complementary titles to which they have no right and which indicate respect and acceptance of them at their own grossly inflated stolen-power/wealth-based valuation.

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@ggersh non-ideal people vs ideal people? What a load of shit. And people actually buy this garbage?

I wasn't aware we had "ideal people," never mind which things that assessment should be based on.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

ggersh's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal it's captured many, especially through the kindness of Alan Greenspan.
Paul Ryan is a huge disciple also.

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Food for thought....why do most polls usually come out in the 50/50
range, when the Princeton study shows it as a 60/40 70/30 on issues
that americans want

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@ggersh bang-your-head-syndrome.png

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

ggersh's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal I do it in reverse, maybe that's why it works for me.*wacko*

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Food for thought....why do most polls usually come out in the 50/50
range, when the Princeton study shows it as a 60/40 70/30 on issues
that americans want

@ggersh

That's because he's one of the temporarily useful psychopathic idiots they've conned into believing that they are/could become one of the 'in' group. Since none of that group are capable of empathy, have no concept of loyalty except as feeling it due to themselves and routinely express/engage in enormous cruelty, he may experience the other side once the rest of us have been completely drained and the lawless and unrestrained Psychopathic Class begin to cannibalize each other from the bottom up. Assuming that we haven't all been nuked by then.

Getting very sick of the scum clogging up the top with their linguistic and perceptual distortion, social and industrial pollution, brainwashing/draining/poisoning/choking out the rest of us, while claiming this as their right and destiny as our 'betters'... because they aren't limited in their greed, control-freakery and casual cruelty by being reality-based human beings with consciences and empathy?

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

@ggersh what happens when non-Christians try to analyze Christian beliefs (or non-spirituals try to analyze spirituals' beliefs).

Christ assumed the sins of people because it is impossible for people to be sin-free. I believe Yogananda also wrote about the concept of the sin-free deliberately taking on the sins of other people- so the notion exists in at least one more religion besides Christianity.

It has nothing to do with ideal or not-ideal. But someone who believes that they are more equal than others will believe nonsense like Rand.

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dfarrah

snoopydawg's picture

was one of his worst betrayals IMO because even after they were bailed out they continued to fraudulently foreclose on people's homes and he knew that it was happening and did nothing to stop it.
There were many AGs who were bringing class action lawsuits against them and then Holder talked them into rolling them all into one. After that happened the banks only had to pay piss ant fines that were barely noticeable to their profits. Being fined a few millions when their profits were in the billions didn't hurt them at all. Plus they got to write them off. The people who lost their homes didn't get their homes back or compensated for them.

And there are many people who believe that rich people shouldn't have to pay higher taxes, nor should the corporations because they create jobs. I see this type of comment all the time in Utah.

Thanks for reposting this and updating it to include Franks and others. I need to read his book.
I too miss your essays and hope that you find another subject to educate us on. Your neoliberalisms ones have been bookmarked.

Happy birthday.. hope that you have a great time doing something fun.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

Proud election denier

gulfgal98's picture

@snoopydawg We went out to one of my favorite local restaurants. I had shrimp tacos and we split a bottle of wine. It was a nice evening. Smile

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@gulfgal98 Are you in FL right now, or NC?

Would be great to meet you some time.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

gulfgal98's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal I am in NC for quite a while with a short trip to Fla. next week to visit family and attend a reunion of high school friends. I would love to meet you too.

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@gulfgal98 Well, I wouldn't want to horn in on your reunion, or squeeze into a short trip, but let's see if we can figure out a way to meet sometime! I'm in Gainesville.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

gulfgal98's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal @Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal We come to it from different backgrounds and perspectives. Mine life experience based and yours is based upon your teaching and learning background. But we seem to come to very similar conclusions.

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

@snoopydawg Meta, can you post those links? Or are they tagged? I can't figure it out how to make it easy for more eyeballs to see, excellent series.

Thanks gulfgal98, happy birthday. Taurus? The Bull! More power to ya, keep going.

Peace & Love

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gulfgal98's picture

@eyo If you go to this link which was number 17 in the series, there are links to the previous sixteen essays. The one that I republished here was number 3. If you do not want to read them all, I recommend this one and number 4.

And thank you for the well wishes. Smile

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

@gulfgal98 there's exactly the page my search fu evaded, thanks a lot. Recommendations noted.

Peace & Love

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The Aspie Corner's picture

@ggersh Funnily enough, Ayn Rand was exactly the kind of person she described. She expected people to worship her (Quite a few did) and yet she had little to show for it but shitty psychotic prose.

That being said, I can understand why they included the quote.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

Gates and Musk deciding where the world needs to go, and their vanity is based on a knack for making money.

As if that trait was all that's needed to be counted wise. The same moral blindness running through the Dem sector of the 1%.

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Orwell: Where's the omelette?

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@jim p You're either a sheep or a goat, buddy. If you're having a bad time in life, especially financially, you must be a goat.

How very Christian. Because, of course, Jesus had a very successful life by the Bushes and Clintons' standards.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

@jim p

and automatically you become a guru. Bien sur! Prestigious Universities will pay large sums for your council and guidance; world leaders will seek your advice. Clearly, wealth itself bestows virtue and wisdom upon its possessors -- else why would we look to them as exemplars, leading us all to the promised land?

Wealth is a measure merit, and merit is a measure wealth -- has there ever been any other?

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native

Lily O Lady's picture

@native

before the days of feudalism. Nothing has changed.

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

at TOP right now:

"Why are so many male journalists ganging up on Chelsea Clinton on Twitter?"

She worked so hard to get where she is in life. LEAVE CHELSEA ALONE!!!1!

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@Dopeman I saw that Chelsea diary title and nearly gagged.
I read a quote somewhere from her book about her decision to leave her job with the Wall Street investment firm because she wasn't suited to live in the culture of money.
I took that to mean she didn't like the pressure of actual work, when she can otherwise make millions with the Clinton Foundation by saying "Clinton!", clicking her heels 3 times, and rake in millions!

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"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Dopeman Will she leave me alone?
She and Michelle Obama are being hawked to us as the bright future of the party. I'd say I have a right to have an opinion on that.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

@Dopeman

to Chelsea Clinton, is a mystery to me.

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native

@Dopeman

to see if there's been any sort of evolution. Nope, it's still "Bad Republicans! Bad Russia! Bad Republicans!" top to bottom. It's as if they're all on some kind of an eternal feedback loop.

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native

Lily O Lady's picture

@native

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@Lily O Lady

or they're liable to experience a collapse of the colony.

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native

Lily O Lady's picture

@native

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"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@native

...or they're liable to experience a collapse of the colony.

SHHHHH! Please, don't give them any hints out of the morass they've created by pissing in the wind while hurling turds so hard for so long - a lot of us are hoping they'll just sink out of politics, policy and sight!

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

Thanks for republishing this--sorry I missed it yesterday!

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

gulfgal98's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal to republish this essay because I believe that meritocracy in the form we see it is the base upon neoliberalism is justified. Larry Summers quote could not make it clearer as to how these people think of themselves and the rest of us. And you are very right about how Calvinistic they are.

I actually had more planned in the series and then got side tracked by electoral politics. It has been a learning experience for me to write these essays. The more we learn about neoliberalism, the better we can understand exactly why it is so hard to combat it. I really thank Thomas Frank and George Monboit who have exposed neoliberalism for us. I have yet to read Listen Liberal, but I have read a lot of Frank's writing on line and listened to his interviews and speeches. His command of prose makes him an easy and very clear read for a neophyte like me.

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

It is more like a religious belief that they are better than the rest of us

That's exactly what it is:

leftbehind.jpg

atlasshrugged.jpg

Here's what I had to say about it, a while ago:

https://caucus99percent.com/content/very-long-way-galts-gulch

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

gulfgal98's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal I was the first commenter on it and thought it was one of the best I had read. Good

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@gulfgal98 You and I are definitely seeing the same pattern, gg, no question!

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

Thanks for posting the link to that brilliant essay! Makes me wonder how many gems I've missed by discovering this place so late... I think I need a time warp where current time doesn't pass while I catch up on my reading...

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

how you did in school.”

Except that you can do extremely well in school, and get treated like total shit. Look at what they've done to the academics, most of them working for less than minimum wage.

Don't do too well at school; you might be one of those freethinkers who come up with dangerous ideas.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

gulfgal98's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal but what school you went to that defines you as a part of the meritocracy.

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

between skyrocketing tuition and governmental budget cuts--and between those things and the corporatization of the academic world.

Education shouldn't be an "industry" in the first place. It's a function of the polis.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

by now: health, agriculture, prisons, education, you name it, it's all being done on inhumanly massive scales. Hell, it's even hard to buy a hamburger these days, that isn't made and sold by some corporate monolith or other. Economy of scale, they say. Standardization of experience, I say.

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native

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@native @native You're right. But also, there are some things that model just doesn't work for at all: it's not bad for producing tv shows or screwdrivers, but it's terrible for creating healthcare or education.

Some things simply do not work when done through a corporate capitalist model.

It's also terrible for maintaining a habitable ecosystem.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

doesn't even understand what her job IS.

Her job is to maintain the illusion of a Republic while excusing the horrible, ever-worsening policy by explaining that it is the inevitable result of the nature of the world.

She breaks the illusion of a Republic basically every time she has a conversation with an ordinary person.

She should stay behind the scenes, arranging deals between despicable rich people worldwide. Like her mentor, Henry Kissinger.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Chris Hayes is a poster boy. He wrote a very insightful book a few years back "The Twilight of the Elites" and then sold out everything he believed in to become another corporate HRC whore for MSNBC. The solution is to tax the shit out of the 1% and end the wars. Tulsi in 2020.

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chuck utzman

TULSI 2020

shaharazade's picture

essay gulfgal. Regardless of which political party, pol or political ideology you adhere to, identify with or vote for meritocracy, is at the heart of our society. You can call yourself 'socially liberal' but when you believe that being successful at breaking glass corporate ceilings or rising to the top of your profession means equality or justice your not. Pull your self up by your bootstraps and get a job in robotics. The Horatio Algers myth is alive and well in American society. Racism, sexism and all the other ills of our society thrive on meritocracy.

What ever happened to the concept of the common good? I hear all the time from liberals that it's 'a dog eat dog world' and you need to learn to play the game. My ex sister in law a moderate Demorat used to say to me 'If you divided all the money equally in the end the same people would end up rich.' She figures that this is some kind of justification for what she see's as the rightful way the world works. Populism has a bad rep. for people who are true believers in 'free market' global capitalism.

(warning Abba alert)

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gulfgal98's picture

@shaharazade This is a big part of what I have been trying to get across about neoliberalism and meritocracy.

Regardless of which political party, pol or political ideology you adhere to, identify with or vote for meritocracy, is at the heart of our society. You can call yourself 'socially liberal' but when you believe that being successful at breaking glass corporate ceilings or rising to the top of your profession means equality or justice your not.

Social liberalism and identity politics allow the neoliberals to ignore the real ills caused by neoliberalism. By focusing on the social issues alone, they punt on the economic and wealth inequality caused by their adherence to neoliberalism. They loudly proclaim their own piety by claiming how liberal they are as long as it does not cost the ruling class their income stream.

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Do I hear the sound of guillotines being constructed?

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." ~ President John F. Kennedy

earthling1's picture

On the subject of taxes and civilization. I don't see it in those terms.
I see taxes as dues. Dues that keep the union, any union, functioning and providing for the common good. Roads, bridges, clean water, a strong military for the protection of the union and it's members.
We are a union, all of us. We belong to and support the Union of American States. We provide an atmosphere that allows for all other unions to thrive.
Not just labor unions, but unions that disguise themselves behind names like associations, guilds, brotherhoods, chambers, and a myraid of other labels. But they are all the same thing and perform the same tasks, provide for common good of their dues paying members.
The tragedy is all of the unions ganging up against one kind of union, tne labor union. The only kind of union that represents the working men and women of this country.

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.