The neoliberals' cultural stock is in decline.
The neoliberals' cultural stuck is in decline. When they had that suave dude Barack Obama telling everyone he was like Gandhi or Mandela, that was totally a thing. Cultural neoliberalism was rockin' da house as every branch of government, both state and Federal, was being awarded to Republicans. Then they put all of their eggs in the Hillary Clinton basket, waging a rather nasty campaign to get everyone to step in line while Clinton was and is very much about money and about the society of her John Birch Society daddy. (She and Bill did make great-looking hippies in the Sixties though, but you only see that in old photos.) Vote for her because Trump is Hitler or something.
Now they have what? Pete Buttigieg, who is smarter than you and who reeks insincerity from every pore of his skin as he delivers wooden imitations of Obama speeches? Michael Bloomberg, who brags about what he can buy? Grandpa Joe Biden, with initial-stage dementia? Hallmark card cop Amy Klobuchar, who will work with Republicans while helping maybe five or six people as she promised? Elizabeth "I'm in it for me" Warren? It's not like these people come naturally to cultural efflorescence -- they, after all, ran John Kerry, Al Gore, and Michael Dukakis -- but this has got to be a new low for them, expanding the field to twenty-plus candidates only to find themselves facing Super Tuesday with only this.
Philosophically, neoliberalism is a form of antihumanism. In an article in "American Affairs" (which I suggest you all read from beginning to end) the economist Philip Mirowski suggests several principles common to neoliberal thought. I'll just post one through four so as not to freak anyone out while making the point just as effectively:
(1) “Free” markets do not occur naturally. They must be actively constructed through political organizing.
(2) “The market” is an information processor, and the most efficient one possible—more efficient than any government or any single human ever could be. Truth can only be validated by the market.
(3) Market society is, and therefore should be, the natural and inexorable state of humankind.
(4) The political goal of neoliberals is not to destroy the state, but to take control of it, and to redefine its structure and function, in order to create and maintain the market-friendly culture.
This then, is the core of neoliberal culture. The eventual point of neoliberalism, then, is to exalt markets above people -- for the neoliberals, people are expendable but markets are superior. It took a rabid nationalist like Donald Trump to end the war in Afghanistan, whereas faithful neoliberal Barack Obama kept the war around because it provided "markets" for weapons corporations. Neoliberals hate Bernie Sanders because he wants to get rid of some of the markets for health insurance -- as long as people are buying health insurance, the neoliberals don't care if anyone dies because they can't afford to use it.
As implied in this article (password: AddletonAP2009), the neoliberal "solution" to climate change is the only one that has been tried. The point of focusing all climate change mitigation efforts upon "reducing carbon emissions," from the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 onward, is so that a new line of products can be manufactured to help consumers reduce their carbon emissions, more efficient fossil-burning machines or alternative energy machines or carbon permits or easements or something like that. The idea that manufacturing new products also consumes carbon is not assumed to be a problem. Meanwhile the fossil energy interests will stay hidden from all of this "mitigation" effort, it being assumed that the sacred "market" will drive them out of business. Whether said "market" actually does so, when obviously over the past twenty-eight years it has done nothing of the sort, is nobody's business. Neoliberals are okay with carbon taxes because they can always be abolished later, like they were in Australia, and because their ideas of carbon taxes involve low carbon taxes so as not to hurt businesses.
Neoliberalism has been the dominant doctrine throughout the world's universities since the Eighties. Academic vogues such as "postmodernism" can serve as Trojan Horse concepts for hegemonic neoliberalism. Postmodernism, to own a definition, is an aesthetic concept involving the juxtaposition of radically differing aesthetic concepts and celebrating surface observations over "deeper meanings." The postmodern essence of visual art is in collage; the postmodern musical form is the medley. Postmodernism is innocuous when it combines medieval architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright, or when it combines classical music with rock and roll. Neoliberalism, however, sees in postmodernism a market, something to create new products and separate people from their money. Postmodernism can give neoliberalism a cultural core. Postmodernism is what is behind Pete Buttigieg's assertion that people do not have to choose between revolution and the status quo. (Trust me, he's been to universities.) We just combine them in some kind of postmodern market. Never mind that such an idea eviscerates the concept of revolution.
The incubator regime for neoliberalism, as numerous authors have pointed out, was the regime in Chile under the dictatorial junta headed by Augusto Pinochet, beginning on the real September 11th, in 1973. The Department of Economics at the University of Chicago, the epicenter of neoliberal thought in America, was brought in to help Pinochet devise policy. Please keep in mind that neoliberals do not care one whit about democracy as long as the resultant regimes respect capitalism, and they're also okay with high death tolls for the same reason. Neoliberalism is a death culture. You live if you have money or if you have access to the government which invents money and forces you to use it.
The task of replacing neoliberalism with something else will be a daunting one. Neoliberals rule the planet today. It appears at this point that our primary weapon is the fact that the neoliberals don't really have any specific culture; instead, they speculate in culture for the sake of the fetishes of markets and money and property through which they destroy the planet, us, and ultimately themselves.