How the Economy Creates Today’s Cultural Conditions

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) considered nihilism a transitional stage that accompanies human development. It arises from frustration and weariness. When people feel alienated from values, and have lost the foundation of their value system but have not replaced it with anything, then they become nihilists. Nietzsche saw that the old values and old morality simply didn’t have the same power that they once did. For Nietzsche nihilism requires a radical repudiation of all imposed values and meaning. He believed we could eventually work through nihilism – in the process destroy the main interpretations of the world, thus open the opportunity to discover the correct course for mankind. In the last thirty years changes in technology, education and economics have intertwined to create today’s cultural conditions. We need to understand why more and more individuals now believe contemporary cultural conditions reduce the possibility of experiencing life as meaningful.

The year 1900 ushered a new era that changed the way that reality was perceived and portrayed. Later this period would come to be known as modernism and would forever be defined as a time when artists and thinkers rebelled against every conceivable doctrine that was widely accepted by the Establishment, whether in the arts, science, medicine, philosophy, etc. The modernists were militant about distancing themselves from every traditional idea that had been held sacred by Western civilization. Whereas in the past, a worker became involved in production from beginning to end, by 1900 he had become a mere cog in the production line, making an insignificant contribution. Thus, division of labor made him feel fragmented, alienated not only from the rest of society but from himself. One of the effects of this fragmentation was the consolidation of workers into political parties that threatened the upper classes.

During the 1980s, school systems lowered educational standards to protect children from failure. The world would be saved from crime, drug abuse and under-achieving through bolstering self-esteem. This self-esteem movement has had a significant impact on the school system – in order to ensure positive self-esteem education standards were lowered, creating a milieu for extreme individualism. When there is too much self-esteem there are problems of self-tolerance, entitlement and narcissism. This person demands automatic and full compliance with his/her expectations. The cult of self-esteem that was created in schools provides a pool of individuals in the 21st century who view the world from an emotional rather than a rational perspective, supporting extreme individualism and allowing personal feelings to over come the distinction between right and wrong. This person is addicted to the attention of others for admiration, applause and admiration. Behind this façade they only care about appearances.

The Enlightenment metanarrative promoted that rational thought, allied to scientific reasoning, would lead inevitably toward moral, social and ethical progress. Postmodernism, a symptom of nihilism, reflects contemporary culture as marked by widespread fragmentation and loss of faith in historical progress. When the West declared itself the winner of the Cold War, its collective narcissism was exacerbated – setting narcissism as a new cultural standard in Western society. Social media has enabled a whole generation of narcissists – Facebook enforces self-promotion. The prevailing ideology of neoliberalism feeds the culture of narcissism that is having a toxic effect on community, culture, politics, the economy and even the environment. The neoliberal state has no vision of the good society or the public good, and no mechanism for addressing society’s major economic, political and social problems. Today neoliberal ideology defines the social relationships of poor people and the attitude towards them that supports an economic system that creates inequality.

The appeal of the populists has grown with mounting public discontent over the status quo. In the West, many people feel left behind by technological change, and the growing inequality associated with a neoliberal economic system. There is an increasing sense that governments and the elite ignore public concerns. But today, a growing number of people have come to see rights not as protecting them from the state but as undermining governmental efforts to defend them. Encouraged by populists, an expanding segment of the public sees rights as protecting only these “other” people, not themselves, and thus as dispensable. In the recent election Donald Trump sometimes overtly, sometimes through code and falsehoods, spoke to many Americans’ discontent with economic stagnation and an increasingly multicultural society in a way that breached basic principles of dignity and equality.

Friedrich Nietzsche claims there is no objective fact of what has value in itself – culture consists of beliefs developed to perpetuate a particular power structure. The system, if followed by the majority of the people, supports the interests of the dominant class. That we should think there is only one right way of considering a matter is only evidence that we have become inflexible in our thinking. Trump’s populism has degraded into nihilism – the consequence of lost opportunities especially amongst the young. This nihilism is a response that reflects how difficult it is to fight a system that priorizes profit over people. Also, the failure of intellectuals to offer the public viable alternatives account for the rise of these movements. The real question is how to achieve reforms despite an entrenched economic and political system. Today’s cultural conditions appear to have created a demand for radical transformation that has been dramatically underestimated.

Agnieszka Golec de Zavala et al. identified three types of people in UK threatened by changes: (1) authoritarians who fear other groups will threatened their status quo within the nation, (2) people high in social dominance orientation who compete for their group dominance, and (3) collective narcissists who believe the UK is so great it is entitled to privileged treatment, but claim this important value is not recognized by other countries. Narcissism and the feeling of entitlement create a group who oppose rational evidence of a debate, leading to polarized positions. In this culture, angry individuals can be recruited to causes without a rational debate. They feel justified in asserting themselves, defending their perceived rights. Collective narcissism created by people who perceive they are part of a disadvantaged group are more likely to have unrealistic belief in the greatness of their nation and support populist ideologies.1

Political nihilism involves the destruction of illusions, the negation of mythology and the removal of the elite who profit from the existing propaganda of artificial confusion. Neoliberals created the illusion cutting taxes for the rich will actually create well paying jobs for the rest of society. By linking the welfare of working-class Americans directly to the prosperity of the rich, the neoliberals protect the insulated interests of corporations and the wealthy without the fear of backlash. In the 21st century the myth of the market hinges on the illusion of a supposedly natural order in the economic realm. However, in this so-called evolutionary environment of the market the income gap between the wealthy and the rest of society continues to grow. These illusions must be destroyed with truth – tax cuts for the rich do not create well-paying jobs for the middle class and there is no justification for the presence of competition in all parts of social activities.

Postmodernism was supposed to be the end of the ‘grand narrative’ or the metanarrative apparatus of legitimization. However, if we accept that all perspectives are equally non-binding, then intellectual or moral arrogance will determine which perspective has precedence. This creates an environment where ideas can be imposed forcibly with little resistance, raw power alone determining intellectual and moral hierarchies. Neoliberals have taken advantage of this, developing a metanarrative about the importance of markets for promoting the virtues of freedom, choice and prosperity. As this metanarrative is created and reinforced by power structures, they are therefore untrustworthy. Neoliberalism constructed a system that not only benefits the upper class but also effectively justifies this outcome – the political and social domination of the upper class are presented as normal outcomes of the functioning of the free market. The neoliberal metanarrative offers society legitimization through the anticipated completion of a (as yet unrealized) master idea.

Democracy is in decline because economic inequality is on the rise. The bedrock of democracy is citizens’ political equality despite unequal wealth, and high inequality inevitably erodes the barrier between wealth and political influence. In the US there is a fake populism driven by President Trump that directs his followers downward against marginal, and outwards against foreigners, rather than upward against the powerful. Trump’s people tapped into collective narcissism – which they continue to draw on at post-election rallies. A Polish study found that people who felt less in control of their lives were more likely to show signs of collective narcissism. The ideology of the low self-esteem person is created by the increasing economic inequality between themselves and the economic elite – the neoliberal economic system.2 This leads to inequality of opportunity where families find themselves trapped by economic stagnation, which undermines hope for change. The existing neoliberal economic system creates cultural conditions that many now find reduce the possibility of experiencing life as meaningful.

1 Agnieszka Golec de Zavala, Rita Guerra and Cláudia Simão. (27 Nov 2017) The Relationship between the Brexit Vote and Individual Predictors of Prejudice: Collective Narcissism, Right Wing Authoritarianism, Social Dominance Orientation.

2 Christian Jarrett. (3 March 2017) How collective narcissism is directing world politics.

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The Beginning of the End of Equality and Freedom

The social contract refers to the belief that the state exists only to serve the will of the people who are the source of all political power. Neoliberalism is an ideology founded as the only source of truth. The neoliberal ideological project or hegemony is geared to making itself invisible. It functions by achieving the consent of the masses to abide social norms and rules of law by framing the worldview of the economic elite, and the social and economic structures that go with it as just, legitimate, and designed for the benefit of all, even though they may only benefit the wealthy. Ideological hegemony theorizes the way in which relationships of domination and exploitation are embedded in the dominant ideas of society – a key claim is that the market provides a natural mechanism for rational economic allocation. Lives are now governed by an ideology that limits opportunities, however, equality is a necessary condition for the preservation of liberty.

For John Locke (1632-1704), the role of the ‘social contract’ that placed authority over people was to protect human equality and freedom; this is why social groups agreed to a ‘social contract’ that places authority over them. Jean-Jacques Rousseau criticized some features of the Enlightenment. In 1755 he published Discourse on the Origin of Inequality, describing an endemic moral inequality that was related to power and wealth. As men come together, Rousseau claimed, there is a drive to compare ourselves to others – driving men to seek to dominate over their fellow beings as a way of augmenting their happiness. This leads to the formation of government with the sole purpose of protecting their property and locking in moral inequality as a permanent feature of civil society. This contract is promoted as treating everyone equally, but in reality, it is in the interest of the few who have become stronger and richer through development in their private property.

In 1762, Rousseau published the Social Contract in which he defined the ideal social contract, describing how man could be free and live together in a community. By ‘equality’ Rousseau did not mean that everyone should be exactly the same, but differences in wealth should not imbalance the state. Equality it seemed to him, is a necessary condition for the preservation of liberty, while property and material inequality are the root of human misery and evil. Massive material inequality can put liberty up for sale. The poor would be willing to sell their freedom, and the rich would be capable of buying it. Both the very rich and the very poor would value money more than liberty. Thus, Rousseau asserts, that some level of material equality is necessary to ensure that liberty comes before profit. He defended private property; if everything we did was for the state, we would no longer be free.1

While all men and women suffer from disillusionment, few know that their state of disillusionment is the result of the breakdown of an illusion they themselves had manufactured. Disillusion is never possible without fantasy – and the destructive strength of the disillusionment can never exceed the strength and energy that was used to create the fantasy in the first place. The adverse effect is that man places values on his illusions, and over values what is not true, or no longer exists. In order to clear these errors of thinking, man must release the emotion that keeps him tied to this false reality. The removal of illusion or fantasy involves understanding that expectations are not failed, but false. With this recognition comes an opportunity for change. Trump’s base believes that expectations that the neoliberal system would deliver has not failed, rather were false. So, they turn to Trump to seek changes in government to turn things around.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget are in the process of scrapping hundreds of existing or planned regulations as part of its larger push to ease federal restrictions on the private sector, upending federal policies on labor, the environment and public health. In several instances, the administration is dropping rules aimed at tightening worker safety standards or omitting species the government had pledged to protect under the Endangered Species Act. In other cases, it is proposing new regulations that provide employers with more leeway in how they run their businesses or report their activities to federal officials. “These rollbacks of critical public protections will leave American workers, consumers and children vulnerable on a daily basis,” claim regulatory policy advocates, “to risks such as air and water pollution, unsafe products and tainted food, dangerous workplaces and a newly deregulated Wall Street that once again could threaten economic collapse.” 2

The GOP tax plan isn’t a handout to the wealthy claim neoliberals, it’s actually an investment in the richest Americans so they will trickle their savings down to the middle class. Conservative think tanks claim that corporate tax cuts lead to higher wages for workers, even though the last several decades of evidence indicate the opposite. Most economists point out that shareholders, not workers, stand to benefit the most from corporate tax reform. Recent history suggests that the wealthy are the primary beneficiaries of soaring corporate earnings and a booming market. The top 20 percent of Americans hoard the American dream, they don’t pass it on. Eighty percent of stock value is held by the richest 10 percent of Americans. When the S&P 500 goes up, the middle- and lower-class don’t see the benefits. However, if you are going to sell snake oil – a tonic promised to cure a wide variety of ailments – you must claim it has magical powers.

Neoliberalism casts inequality as virtuous – as everyone gets what he or she deserves. It is up to us to make ourselves better, we are told, and the system simply supplies us with the appropriate tools to use – tasks to undertake and ladders to climb so that we may realize our potential. Precarious workers in this era of insecurity go from job to job, depending on the availability and demand. With no job security and few benefits, the precarious worker now views his development and subsequent success or failure as his own responsibility. Meanwhile, the workings of the system and the pressure to take on such precarious jobs are invisible. Neoliberalism sees the new normal as empowering individuals, and the shifting economy as a valid reason for underemployment. Things are changing – many now believe it is not enough to define poverty as not having enough material resources to merely survive, but rather having enough resources to participate in society in a meaningful way.

Fear is what you feel when you face something that is unknown or a perceived threat to you. But fear goes beyond that. Fear is also related to the need to understand, in that if you don’t understand why something is going on, it is instinctive to fear it. Today we are vulnerable to the politics of fear. The politics of fear is when leaders use fear as a driving or motivating factor for the people, to get them to vote a particular way, allow excesses in spending, or accept policies they might otherwise abhor. It’s banking on the fact that presenting people with an alleged threat to their well-being will elicit a powerful emotional response that can override reason and prevent a critical assessment of these policies. President Trump’s fear mongering is done to boost presidential power to enhance efforts to eliminate regulations and trash government agencies.

During the past two decades, there has been a strong anti-intellectual movement amongst conservatives in the US, connected with nominating candidates ‘just like them’, which can mean someone as out of touch with the whole wide world as they are. Tom Nichols observes that today, across American society, intellectual authority is resented, resisted and disregarded, with every opinion ostensibly holding equal weight. This levelling of viewpoints has been accelerated by digital technologies and platforms, which have further lowered the barriers to participation, opening the floodgates to those without the requisite educational backgrounds and professional credentials.3 President Trump continually undermines various branches of government including Justice Department, as well as, the fourth estate – the media. The main goal of the Trump Administration is to alienate American voters in order to undermine the idea of deploying state power for progressive purposes.

We live in a world of illusion and see the world not as it is but as we want it to be. The neoliberal worldview has been embedded in contemporary culture to such an extent and now is so pervasive that any countervailing evidence serves only to further convince people of its ultimate truth. The illusion is nothing can change without the market – there is no alternative to neoliberal capitalism. Democracy is embraced because the working class, in particular, understands democratic activism to be the most effective tool they have to attack extreme inequality and maintain a check on the power of elites. If citizens only play a passive role, then the real politics are shaped in private by interaction between elected officials and economic elites – elites who are not interested in the welfare of the classes beneath them. These actions for change include electing candidates identifying policies to begin the process to end big money’s grip on politics, an issue that lies at the core of the debate on freedom and equality.

1 Horsman, Greg. (2013) Evolutionary Economics and Equality: An Age of Enlightenment, p. 189-192.

2 Eilperin, Juliet and Damian Paletta (20 July 2017) Trump administration cancels hundreds of Obama-era regulations.

3 Baer, Nicholas. (30 August 2017) American Idiot: Rethinking Anti-Intellectualism in the Age of Trump

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An Introduction to the Axis of Authoritarianism in America

Auguste Comte (1798-1857), a French thinker, believed the evolution of society to be founded on three laws or stages of historical progress: theological, metaphysical, and positivism (observation and experiment). The early stage, theological, identified a time when man’s place in society and society’s restrictions upon man were referenced to God, where the family is the prototypical social unit and priests and military leaders hold sway. The metaphysical is about the justification of universal rights as being on a higher plane than the authority of human rulers to contemplate, but not referenced to the sacred beyond mere metaphor. The purpose of the scientific or positive phase was for people to find solutions to social problems and bring them to force despite the proclamations of “human rights” or the prophesy of the “will of God.” Comte calls this last progressive phase of humanity positivism – being something definite, something beneficial.1

Puritans played an important role in the historical progress of America. Winthrop et al., whose movement to and brutal “civilizing” of the New World, including their “creative destruction” of the native Indians and other “impure”, “ungodly”, and “evil” groups as exemplified by witch trials, is better understood if considering their vision in creation of a theocratic Bible Commonwealth in spite of, rather because of their failure to permanently institute such a theocracy in the Old World. Puritanism not just tends to establish political-moral tyranny, but also is unprecedented in terms of the intensity and totality of authoritarianism. By definition, the political-religious tyranny of Puritanism comprises, generates, or eventually escalates into some degree and kind of terror or methodical war on humans to be punished for or prevent from recommitting the original sin – hence the crusade against evil. At the time of the 1776 Revolution two-thirds of Americans were Puritans.

Puritans and Calvinists introduced thorough going regulation of private and public life. This supports the outcome of Puritan political extremism as intolerance in politics as well as society overall. Puritanism generates fanatical political as well as moral-religious intolerance rooted in and expressing Puritan radicalism, reactionary conservatism, and absolutism in politics, morality and religion. The sociological effect of this lack of tolerance in American politics is Protestant puritanical morality – the propensity to see all political life in terms of all black and all white. There are tremendous social costs today with such ideas. The fact is freedom is threatened by both the over reach of the law and by the arbitrariousness of its enforcement. The tough on crime conservative judicial system creates ominous and lethal consequences for human liberty, dignity and life. The opportunity costs of the war on drugs occur through deflecting societal resources from arguably more effective crime-control strategies rather than a system of morality by law.2

In the 19th century Alexis de Tocqueville observed; “It must not be imagined that the piety of the Puritans was merely speculative, taking no notice of the worldly affairs. Puritanism … was almost as much a political theory as a religious doctrine.” In addition, he documented “the ‘servitude of thought’ characteristic for Anglo-Saxon lawyers, including US supreme-court members defending the “conservative spirit of stability against the fickleness of democracy.” Puritanism spread to the South via fundamentalist revivals in America. The new justice, Neil Gorsuch, has delivered key votes backing Trump’s travel ban on people from several Muslim-majority countries and on the death penalty, and embraced certain kinds of public funding for churches. During arguments in one of the court’s biggest cases of its current term, Gorsuch signaled sympathy for a conservative Christian baker who contends he was within his constitutional rights to refuse to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.

The 21st century Puritans, or neo-Puritans are people who are passionate about their causes, almost obsessed with them at times to the point of rigidity, ready at the drop of a hat to eviscerate those who disagree with them and pronounce them not just mistaken, but bad people whose opinions must be silenced. Neo-Puritanism suppresses or threatens political democracy and a free civil society through its renewed authoritarianism. A neo-Puritan is a person with a limited outlook who is unwilling to consider alternative ideas, perspectives or thought, on new age ideas leading to racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and climate-change denialism. The authoritarianism of evangelical churches encourage ongoing “creative destruction” of non-Puritan ungodly or liberal social changes as well as the reactionary restoration of a “pure Christian community.” Neo-Puritans can be as narrow minded as were witch-burning Puritans of the 1600s.

The neoliberal state is the extension of the economic elite and the consequence of restructuring of class power in favour of the economic elite. It has no vision of the good society or the public good and no mechanism for addressing society’s major economic, political and social problems. Today neoliberal ideology defines the social relationships of poor people and the attitude towards them that supports an economic system that creates inequality. Neoliberal capitalism is associated with increasing income gradient between the rich and the rest of society. Austerity is backed by the belief that too much state spending preceded it. Austerity, understood as a social-historical force, is the tool of the neoliberal state to subvert democracy and promote authoritarianism. The drive towards a market society and the social engineering required to maintain that society are further expressions of the de facto authoritarianism of neoliberalism and the neoliberal state.3

Narcissism, along with extreme individualism and problems of self-tolerance, has been on the rise over the past four decades. Narcissists associated with extreme individualism focus on short-term relationships and activities correlated with risk taking and sensation seeking. Entitlement is part of their belief system – they believe they deserve special treatment. They lack empathy for others and selfishly take advantage of others. There is lack of respect for authority. Rules do not apply to them – they are special. This person is addicted to the attention of others for admiration, applause and affirmation. They are driven by a need to uphold and maintain a false self projected to the world. Behind this façade they only care about appearances. They feel omnipotent; there is nothing he/she cannot achieve, rarely admit to ignorance and regard his/her intuition and knowledge as superior to objective data, are impervious to the consequences of their actions; and have an ability find scapegoats.

Narcissists are excellent at manipulation – typically they share personal information about themselves to make people feel sorry for them. Initially this may appear that they are sensitive and perhaps vulnerable, but this only part of their system. The truth is irrelevant; its what ever works as they play for the reaction they want. This activity makes them extremely observant and perceptive; they can even appear to be smart. They will tend to agree with people, that is, tell them what they think they want to hear, then find subtle ways to undermine it. As narcissists think highly of themselves, they will seek out leadership positions and take charge. They tend to exaggerate their abilities and, not surprisingly, group members see them as people who can really run the group. Corporate narcissism occurs when the narcissist becomes the leader and recruits co-dependents into his/her bubble. It is necessary to recognize its existence and measure the effect of extreme individualism in daily activities.4

The axis of authoritarianism in America is supported by three belief systems: neo-Puritanism, neoliberal economics, and corporate narcissism. Despite the standard libertarian rhetoric of ‘freedom and individualism’ the dual trend of American Puritanism and other religious conservatism is toward suppressing political freedom and civil liberties while wielding power, and yet to demanding them, for themselves solely, when placed in anti-government opposition or marginality. Poulantzas notes neoliberals need to ensure their own survival by bending civil society, political institutions and democracy to its will. Donald Trump, a ‘world class narcissist,’ delivered his most authoritarian remarks to date on February 5, 2018 during a speech he gave at a factory near Cincinnati, Ohio in which he casually accused Democrats of ‘treason’ for not expressing enthusiasm for his agenda during the State of the Union address. Corporate narcissism has led to dysfunction of the US government. Narcissists profess company loyalty but are really only committed to their own agendas, thus organizations’ decisions are founded on the narcissists’ own interests rather than the interests of the organizations as a whole, the various stakeholders, or the environment in which the organization operates.

Comte’s cardinal position was: “The greatest problem, then, is to raise social feeling by artificial effort to the position which in the natural condition is held by selfish feeling.” Ordinary people can provide this solution. It is necessary to recruit American voters who have been turned off by the inability of the basic machinery of government to serve their interests, to address the shrinking and disappearing public institutions. This will require two waves of voting. The first wave consists of voting out Republicans who are Trump’s enablers and the main supporters of neoliberal tyranny. Once the neo-Puritans and the neoliberals are marginalized in opposition, then it would be necessary to turn out a second wave to vote out Democratic party representatives embracing identity politics or trapped in the world of the elite. These actions will counter the axis of authoritarianism – neo-Puritanism, neoliberalism, corporate narcissism – that is at the root of America’s problems.

1 Auguste Comte.

2 Zafirovski, Milan. from a review of The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Authoritarianism: Puritanism Versus Democracy and the Free Civil Society. (2007).

3 Nightmare on Main Street: the Neocon and Neoliberal Failures. (1 November, 2017)

4 Horsman, Greg. (2011) The Narcissist’s Vocation and the Economic Debacle p. 36-43.

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About the Ongoing Crisis Management of a Corrupt Society

Neoliberalism is an anxious form of crisis management attempting to cover over the gaps in its ideological contradictions. The goal of neoliberalism is to remove all impediments to capitalist enterprises. Economic elites mobilized support from media, political parties, universities, in particular think tanks to develop this new hegemony. This process creates a noticeable transfer of wealth from the general population to the economic elite, in particular, the 1%. This activity includes a concurrent assault on the labour movement and labour rights. While this ideology champions that individuals have maximum freedom, a crisis exposes the clash with neoliberal interpretation of freedom and responsibilities, on the balance between personal freedom and the common good. Neoliberalism has not only created an economic crisis but also a political crisis. To the admirers of Trump, facts and arguments appear irrelevant. However, it is not enough to oppose a corrupt system – a coherent alternative has to be proposed.

The Mississippi Bubble, a financial scheme in 18th century France, was engineered by John Law who convinced the government to allow him to establish the Banque Générale, with the authority to issue bank notes. Law established what would become the Company of the Indies to develop the vast French territories in the Mississippi Valley along with French tobacco and African slave trade. In 1719 he merged the bank and the trading company. A frenzy of wild speculation drove up the price of shares that were sold to the public. The French government took advantage of the situation by printing increased amounts of paper money with the idea of paying off the debts of Louis XIV – which stimulated galloping inflation – triggering a general stock market crash in France and other countries. In 1802 Thomas Jefferson observed: banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that grow up around the banks will deprive people of all property until they lose everything.

Louis Brandes (1856-1941) became known as the ‘people’s lawyer’ for fighting for workers’ rights and breaking up monopolies. He spent several years defending the constitutionality of state laws that set limits on the number of hours or types of conditions in which a worker could work. In 1914 he published Other People’s Money and How Bankers Use It, in which he attacked monopolies and the ways investment bankers controlled American industry. When President Woodrow Wilson appointed him to the Supreme Court in 1916, he faced bitter opposition from anti-Semites and supporters of big business. Brandes opposed unlimited government power and an interpretation of ‘individual liberty’ that allowed a few people to control economic entities that affected the public at large. Justice Brandes observed: We can make our choice. We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.

In the 1980s there were people who were skeptical of market fundamentalism in general and big banks in particular. In order to decrease the cognitive dissonance, bankers linked home ownership to financial instruments and complex securities. They borrowed upbeat language from the IT world, including the positive message that innovation was good. This was part of a targeted message that Wall Street was good for America. In particular, that complex securities could help low and middle-income families own homes was a key message to disarming any suspicion. Over time, this message alleviated any remaining concern many had about mortgage lenders and investment bankers. The image of the large banks evolved from untrustworthy to being part of the American innovation scene, creating innovative new products that would supposedly improve the life of everyone. They road the wave of financial innovation – the complex financial transactions were inherently good because they helped ordinary citizens own their own homes.

Meanwhile the economic elite established think tank organizations (institutes) who prepared an intellectual war of position that pre-positioned neoliberal ideas to exploit economic and political crisis of the late 1960s and 1970s to make neoliberal solutions appear to be common sense. This activity was facilitated by campaign finance, lobbying, and revolving doors that promoted the ‘deregulation, de-supervision, and the de facto decriminalization’ of (finance) big banks. Neoliberalism generalizes and intensifies contradictions on a world scale, such that, world crisis becomes possible. Neoliberalism creates zones of insecurity and instability as well as zones of prosperity and stability. The system allows the dominance of finance over profit producing capital, affecting investment and production. Consumption tends to be sustained by extending credit. The old saying goes: Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank, but give a man a bank and he can rob the world.1

The Wall Street bankers’ power comes from the ability to provide campaign contributions to both parties, which allowed them to place key individuals in regulatory positions in Washington. This meant decisions in government were handled from the perspective of the big banks. These activities thrived during the two decades prior to the 2008 meltdown. The search for greater and greater profit created a climate to use loopholes to bypass regulations. The big banks made use of the new instruments to get around the rules. By using loopholes, structures were developed that reduced the capital requirements while the risk remained the same. There was no intervention by the regulators even when it was recognized that the banks were attempting to avoid regulation on minimal capital requirements. The Fed did not investigate compliance; banks used subsidiaries not covered in regulation, which created enough churn and confusion to stay ahead of regulators.

The state rescue orchestrated by the Obama administration transformed the crisis in private finance into a crisis of public finance and sovereign debt, which has to be solved through the austerity politics of neoliberals. What followed closely was the beginning of the roll back of post-war safety nets to help balance budgets. Neoliberal policies of austerity are intended to reorganize the balance of forces in favour of capital rather than make policy adjustments – in order to safeguard the existing economic and political arrangements. This can be interpreted as a deliberate strategy to subordinate the policy more directly and durably to the ‘imperatives’ of globalization as construed in neoliberal discourse. Basically, elites try to impose the cost of their mistakes on to others, and seek to allocate costs of crisis management / adjustment, and also shape the learning processes. When the neoliberal bubbles burst in the 1990s and early 2000s, the system was rescued by creating more conditions for bubbles.

Actually, the economic elite are in the process of rebalancing the economy from wage led to finance led which includes the redistribution of income from wage earners to capital. This includes promoting the ‘precarity’ in all areas of life as a disciplinary tool to reinforce the financialization of every day life. The recent budget discussions illustrated the power of financial elites to drive financial budget decisions. Financialization is a pattern of accumulation in which profit making occurs increasingly through financial channels rather than through trade and commodity production. This includes derivatives – involving the money market and investment in commodity future markets. Neoliberalism constructed a system that not only exclusively benefits the upper class but also effectively justifies this outcome – the political and social domination of the upper class are presented as normal outcomes of the functioning of the free market.

“Instead of delivering growth,” a 2016 IMF report explains that neoliberal policies of austerity and lowered regulation for capital movement have in fact “increased inequality.” This inequality “might in itself undercut growth …” As a result, the report states that “policy makers should be more open to redistribution than they are.”2 This issue of inequality amongst the working class was a factor in the 2016 US election. An outsider, Donald Trump tapped into a pool of angry voters just by promising change in Washington. Now in 2017 the Republicans who carry water for the neoliberals, faced a crisis management issue – how to balance an opportunity for image boost vs damage your brand by alienating voters seeking change. With the usual smoke and mirrors, the leadership packaged the Tax Cut and Jobs Act that permanently slashes the corporate tax rate by 40% which trickles down as one time bonuses for some senior workers and $1.50 an hour increase for others, as well as promises of better jobs appearing when the economic elite spend their new money on capital investment – which few Wall Street CEOs committed to doing.

Crisis creates moments for learning which can be linked to critiques: a critique of neoliberalism in crisis includes two important aspects: a critique of domination as well as a critique of ideology, as basis for change. The first observation is that the Great Recession did not alter the economic and ideological domination of neoliberalism. The present neoliberal state mentality stymies introduction of state directed economic intervention to rectify the problems.  While ideologies are perceived to be rooted in interests, values, and social relations of power, they actually seek to legitimate existing social orders or delegitimize them in favour of another. We need solutions to the growing social problems aggravated by a corrupt system. We need to unmask the illusion around individual freedom, and contrary to arguments proposed by neoliberals – the state has consistently been a relevant actor in the organization of the economy and society.

1 Jessop Bob. Neoliberalism redux? Managing the contradictions of neoliberalism in crisis

2 Dangl, Benjamin. (01 June 2016) After Empowering the 1% and Impoverishing Millions, IMF Admits Neoliberalism a Failure.

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On Changing a Violent and Enslaving Economic System

From the 1400s to the 1900s Europeans entered the global trade in human beings with massive numbers of men, women and children forced, and semi-forced into migration from their homelands. This African diaspora was the bedrock foundation of the economic system that led to the social and physical infrastructure that produced the modernity of the 21st century. Even though slavery is forbidden almost everywhere, reality is that in today’s world the economy is fed by slave labour. The greatest profits of this slavery are generated and accumulated in the rich and highly technological counties, whether undocumented workers on farms in rich countries, or underdeveloped countries actually working for suppliers of rich country corporations. Neoliberalism has allowed the development of an enslaving economic system – more workers than ever in history around the world are chained to their jobs for survival. The Internet has created a passive population full of consumerism and void of historical conscience and responsibility. Silence is passive consent and complicity.

During the 18th century the French colony of St. Dominque that became Haiti grew and prospered. By the time of the French Revolution Haiti was producing more than half of all the coffee produced in the world, 40 percent of the sugar for France and Britain and accounted for 40 percent of France’s foreign trade at a time when France was the dominant economy of Europe. By the 1750s, Haiti was France’s richest colony, rich from the sweat of slave labor’s brow. By the time of the French Revolution the population of slaves in Haiti was somewhere between 500 and 700 thousand. Under the French plantation system, based upon slave labor, Haiti was an enormously profitable operation. French sugar and coffee operations in Haiti were so productive that its exports to Europe were comparable and perhaps exceeded the total exports of the British North American colonies.

Five years after the storming of the Bastille, in August 1791 the slaves of Haiti rebelled. The news of the insurrection sent electrifying waves of fear throughout the hemisphere. The slave states and the slave owners in all parts of the US and elsewhere in the Americas were forced to face what they long dreaded, the cruelty of their deeds would turn on them in violent slave revolutions. President George Washington and Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson, both slave owners, supported France in its efforts to suppress the slave revolt in Haiti. Napoleon sent an army of 20,000 trained soldiers to crush the rebellion. However, the African slaves and yellow fever defeated Napoleon Bonaparte’s army – inflicting greater losses than occurred at Waterloo a few years later. When the French surrendered in 1803, Haiti lay in ruins – nearly half of its population lost. The twelve-year war of liberty had destroyed most of the irrigation systems and machines, that, with slave labour, had created France’s richest colony.

News of the failure of Napoleon’s effort to re-establish slavery after sending 20,000 professional soldiers for the task, and their final defeat sent shock waves across the hemisphere. Profound fear spread among white peoples throughout the Americas wherever Africans were held in slavery. Haiti was reviled and feared by all the rich nations of the world precisely for its successful slave revolt which represented a threat not only in nations where slavery was legal, but in all countries, because of their large under-classes living in economic servitude. The strategy of the nations primarily affected, including the U.S., was to further impoverish Haiti, to make it an example. In one grand commitment, Haiti, contributed more to the liberation of the Americas from European colonial powers than any other nation. Twice Haiti, poor as it was, provided Simon Bolívar with men, arms and supplies that enabled the Great Liberator to free half the nations of South America from the Spanish yoke. Haiti asked only one act in repayment: Free the slaves.

In 1885 France agreed to recognize Haiti for payment of 150,000 gold francs in ‘indemnity’. In 1910, President William Howard Taft granted Haiti a large loan in hopes that Haiti could pay off its international debt, thus lessening foreign influence. Shortly before World War I, US bankers obtained shares in the Haitian Bank which controlled the government fiscal policies, and participated in a huge loan to the Haitian government, again placing the people in servitude to a foreign master. US capitalists were quickly given concessions to build a railway and develop plantations. From 1911 to 1915 Haiti went through five presidents driven by unrest that the country was being taken over by American money. The US invoked the Monroe Doctrine to justify occupation. From 1915 to 1934 American administrators ran the government of Haiti. In August 1934 President Franklin Roosevelt ended the occupation. However, as Haiti was deep in debt, the US continued direct control of finance until 1941, and indirect control until 1947 to control loans and business interests.1

In the US, Jim Crow laws enforced racial segregation in education, housing, transportation, and public facilities. Its purpose was to create a second class and maintain white supremacy. Vagrancy laws allowed blacks to be arrested for minor infractions. A system of penal labor known as convict leasing was established at this time. Black men convicted for vagrancy would be used as unpaid laborers, and thus effectively re-enslaving. On December 1, 1955, Rosa Louise Parks (1913 – 2005), a resident of Montgomery, Alabama refused to obey the bus driver’s demand that she relinquish her seat to a white man – she was arrested. Her trial for this act of civil disobedience triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the largest and most successful mass movements against racial segregation in history, and launched Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the organizers of the boycott, to the forefront of the civil rights movement that fostered peaceful protests to Jim Crow laws.2

The economic elite made loans to developing countries conditional on adopting neoliberalism – removal of subsidies, social spending cuts and privatization of social services. The main practices that created this enslaving system in the hands of the economic elite is the concentration of purchasing power and vast selling power based on oligopoly and monopoly. This allows maximization of profits by extracting the maximum value created by workers and their organizations. Under globalization corporations are able to modularize the production process, assigning the production of restricted parts of the products to smaller companies abroad – the community will keep that business as long as they comply with the will of the economic elite – with respect to taxes, regulations and labour requirements. In the global competition of alternate suppliers, these powerful multinational companies compete against each other by offering lower and lower prices which translates into lower and lower wages, lower and lower benefits, and lower and lower environmental standards.

The arguments of political economy were based on intuition and assertion rather than on rigorous analysis, but their strength rested on their ideological appeal rather than on their analytical rigour. Modern neoliberal economics is no less dogmatic than its nineteenth century predecessor in resting on a set of simplistic assertions about the character of the market and the behaviour of market actors. Modern economics is not a scientific discipline but the rigorous elaboration of a very specific social theory, which has become deeply embedded in western thought. Cultural hegemony – the domination or rule achieved through ideological means – functions by achieving the consent of the masses to abide social norms and rules of law by framing the worldview of the economic elite, and the social and economic structures that go with it as just, legitimate, and designed for the benefit of all, even though they may only benefit the wealthy.3

Slavery is happening in the 21st century – even in the heart of rich countries, slaves are working for the biggest companies, for the biggest multi-nationals. The enslaving of workers making ordinary goods intended for consumption of the general public is a current phenomenon. How much are the workers making that bring you the tomatoes on your plate? Most meals in Canada and the US include a hefty portion of human rights abuses. With a political environment that encourages public resentment over illegal immigration, many employers take advantage of the vulnerable illegal workers, reducing pay and imposing brutal work conditions. Neoliberalism injects violence into our lives, and fear into our politics. The divisive 2016 US election was built on fear and, yes, despair of too many of the US populace, who have suffered negative impacts that neoliberalism’s memes and policies have reaped. This election result tells us that there is something badly wrong in the system.

Neoliberalism is an ideology of fear and insecurity that enslaves us all. Neoliberal ideology is not just about political power and domination and oppression of those most marginalized in society, rather it requires the consent and compliance of wider society to operate without challenge. Political power follows economic power. Neoliberalism requires that democracy be largely nominal, that is, less involvement of citizens in societal decisions; remove decision-making out of the hands of the working class, and rely on the politicians owned and the media controlled by the economic elite. We need to switch from a value system based on ‘rule of the market’ and individualism to the values based on ‘community’ and ‘public good.’ This includes shifting to a narrative that an open and transparent political and economic system is fundamental to a healthy society. There is no ‘one way’, but change to end this violent and enslaving economic system begins at the ballot box.

1 Clark, Ramsey. Haiti’s Agonies and Exaltations.

2 Jim Crow Laws and Racial Segregation.

3 Opportunities Lost: Create Your Own Truth. (20 December 2017)

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On Banning Words Related to Public Health

When politicians instruct senior public health bureaucrats to ban language used in developing policies this opens the door for change management which creates opportunities to introduce new approaches into the business process. Peter Drucker (1909-2005), the famous management guru, made his name by asking his clients two questions: “What business are you in?” and How’s business?” The business of public health is to transform lives with an expected outcome while supporting people so they can reach their full potential of good health. The answer to “How’s business?’ is not as positive as it could be. Evidence of the need to address health inequities has been present for over 30 years but has not been incorporated into interventions. During this time policies incorporated language such as evidence-based, science-based, entitlement and vulnerability into reports sent to policy makers. For Nietzsche everything is in flux – ideas should change as soon as information and input changes.

Evidence-based public health (EBPH) action was launched following a 1984 report from US Preventative Services Task Force. EBPH “is the development, implementation, and evaluation of effective programs and polices in public health through application of principles of scientific reasoning, including systematic uses of data and information systems, and appropriate use of behavioral science theory and program planning models.” The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (WHO 1986) established that while changing behaviors was indeed a crucial aim of health promotion, bringing change at that level involved a complex interplay of policy and strategy, creating supportive environments, encouraging community action and reorienting health services. Policies aimed at the individual foster the illusion that a person’s health status is entirely under his or her control, as a consequence, health problems are assigned solely to the individual. In the end the individual becomes a victim, being blamed for what are socially-produced health problems.

The 1986 report, Achieving Health for All, introduced an expansion to the traditional use of the term ‘health promotion’ for Canadians. Three major changes were identified as not being addressed by the current health policies and practices: poorer people have significantly lower life expectancies, poorer health and higher prevalence of disability than the average Canadian, preventable disease and injury are undermining quality of health and the quality of life of many Canadians, chronic disease and disability co-exist with emotional stress, and a lack of community support to help cope and live meaningful and productive lives. In summary the report broadened health determinants to include environmental determinants such as income. In the challenge to reducing income inequalities, poverty did not appear, the discussion was about addressing groups who were disadvantaged. Examining the intersection of poverty and health is crucial to understanding the full impact of income inequality on overall well-being.

In the 1990s public health developed under the rubric of population health. Population health includes strategies that address the entire range of strategies that determine health, and strategies designed to affect the whole population. A consensus emerged to support the need for evidence-based policy development and decision making. Emphasis was placed on the use of the most solid information available to make health decisions, and to ensure these decisions reflect the values and principles of citizens regarding health and health care. This means that every decision should be justified by reference to the available evidence and reasoning. It involved increased upstream investment. The population health approach is grounded in the notion that the earlier in the causal stream action is taken (the more upstream action is taken) the greater the potential for population health gains and health-related cost savings for the system. Income and social status was identified as the most important determinant of health.

Social determinants of health (SDH) are understood as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, that is, their whole life cycle, encompassing not only the social, but also economic, political, environmental, cultural and individual determinants. It refers to the social conditions of each individual, their characteristics, lifestyle, socioeconomic and demographic conditions, permeated mainly by social inequalities. Public health must point out policies and activities that when implemented in other sectors, including medical care, can help improve health and reduce disparities. This is important as many agencies do not participate with respect to cross-cutting issues. For example, effective tobacco control required the use of fiscal policies to reduce tobacco consumption, allied with labour and environmental laws to reduce exposure to smoke, and regulation of marketing practice. None of these activities are the primary domain of the health sector. An SDH approach may identify and address issues that are not feasibly addressed through individual or interpersonal behavior change approaches.

Neglected infections of poverty are a group of chronic and debilitating parasitic and other infections (including congenital infections) that disproportionately affect people living in poverty. Major neglected infections of poverty in the United States include toxocariasis, trichomoniasis, toxoplasmosis, cysticercosis, Chagas disease, and congenital cytomegalovirus infection. Neglected infections of poverty tend to be concentrated in areas of extreme poverty, including the Mississippi Delta, the border with Mexico, Appalachia, tribal lands, and disadvantaged urban areas, where these diseases perpetuate poverty because of their adverse health impact on child development, pregnancy, and worker productivity. The economic toll from these infections are substantial because they cause poor school performance, young adult disability, premature death, and hospitalization; in some cases, the costs of therapy are also high because correct diagnosis is delayed.1 It is necessary to develop health impact assessments in order to help other sectors understand how their action can help improve health and reduce disparities.

The 1992 Declaration of the Rio Conference on Environment and Development, Principle 15 reads: “In order to protect the environment the precautionary principle shall be widely applied by states according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” To mitigate against harmful toxins one could take the precautionary approach, even with the lack of science-based certainty one takes action in the face of potentially serious risk without having to wait for completion of further scientific research. When evidence gives us good reason to believe that an activity, technology, or substance may be harmful, we should act to prevent harm – to protect public health, environment and the future of our children. If we always wait for scientific certainty, people will suffer and die and the natural world may suffer irreversible damage.

Health should be understood as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely as the absence of disease. Vulnerability has three important dimensions: individual, social and programmatic. These are interlinked and one influences the other. Individual vulnerability refers to biological, emotional and cognitive aspects of the individual. Social vulnerability is characterized by cultural, social and economic aspects that determine the opportunities to access goods and services, whereas programmatic vulnerability consists of the social resources that are necessary for the protection of the individual in relation to risks and integrity, as well as to physical, social and psychological well-being. Surveillance of social determinants of health inequalities identifies the following groups in the US where findings indicate that unemployment has a greater adverse effect on the mental health: male manual workers, single mothers, main earner women, and manual workers without unemployment benefits for both sexes.

Since the turn of the 20th century, there has been a belief that technology and reason would make us masters of our environment. By the end of the 20th century, individualism, happiness and capitalism were core values of the Western world. In the second decade of the 21st century we face three deficits: current fiscal imbalance of various levels of government, the need to reverse epigenetic harms from the toxins in the air, water and food, and the debt to future generations as the growing economic gap will ensure them poorer health as adults, which will affect their economic status as they earn lower wages (the false promise of the neoliberal economics). Our expanded understanding of the wider determinants of health and disease suggests that significant advances in health could be achieved if policy makers, program developers, and implementers address these broader influences on health outcomes while maintaining excellence in traditional disease control approaches.

Social determinants are understood as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, reflecting positively or negatively on their lives. Social and economic conditions (and their effects on people’s lives) determine their risk of illness and the actions taken to prevent them becoming ill or treat illness when it occurs. We need to ban making public policy decisions through the lens of individualism (which oversimplifies complex and multifaceted problems) and switch to filter social and economic policies through the lens of the social determinants of health before they are implemented to ensure they support actions that reduce inequities in the system. Words like evidence-based, science-based, entitlement and vulnerability can then be relegated to the reference papers used to develop reports destined for policy makers, that address the key main social determinants of inequality: unemployment and the working poor. We need to close the gap in health-care policies – between the declarations of social determinants of health, and actions and deliverables.

1 Hotez, Peter et al. National Summit on Neglected Infections of Poverty in the United States

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On Truth and Knowledge: “Neoliberalism is Dead”

The expression ‘knowledge itself is power’ occurs in Sir Francis Bacon’s Meditationes Sacrae (1597). Basically the more one knows, the more one will be able to control events – it’s about being aware of something, and having information. Knowledge is really about facts and ideas that we acquire through study, research, investigation, observation, or experience. Wisdom is the ability to discern and judge which aspects of that knowledge are true, right, lasting, and applicable to your life. Bacon criticizes prejudices and false opinions, especially the system of speculation established by theologians, as an obstacle to the progress of science, together with any authoritarian stance in scholarly matters. According to Bacon, human understanding is determined by feelings and passion that corrupt it, for this reason human knowledge cannot be reduced to its intellectual components. Another problem is individuals have conceived ideas as weapons that help to fulfil desires or interests, rather than the discovery of truth.

With respect to truth and knowledge, Nietzsche observes convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies, subsequently he declared “God is dead” He was concerned that God is dead in the hearts and minds of his own generation of modern man – killed by an indifference that was itself directly related to a pronounced cultural shift away from faith and towards rationalism and science. This was an academic debate at a time when the major social sector in late 19th century consisted of farmers and domestic help. His thinking challenged the dominate ideology – religion – that provides order to society and controls how man thinks was breaking down. Ideology controls the masses – ideologies conceal essential aspects of social and political reality. The concealing aspects of ideology are not accidental (i.e. not simply errors) but relate systematically to a set of social and cognitive interests of the elites. Nietzsche observes truth is simply the name given to the point of view of the people who have the power to enforce their point of view.

During the 20th century a new social class appeared. By the 1950s industrial workers had become the largest single group in every developed country, and unionized industrial workers in mass production industries had obtained upper middle-class income levels. Labour unions emerged as the most powerful and organized political force. Thirty-five years later, in 1990s, industrial workers and unions were in retreat. Whereas industrial workers who make and move things accounted for 40% of the American work force in the 1950s, by 1990 they accounted for less than 20% – no more than they accounted for prior to World War I. By 2010, in every developed country, industrial workers account for less than 12% of the workforce. In parallel with the decline of blue-collar workers, the neoliberal ideology was promoted amongst the rich, the bankers, the mainstream economists and the media.1

Bruce Schneier notes the first listing in a Google search result gets a third of the clicks, and if you are not on the first page, you may as well not exist. The result is that the internet you see is increasingly tailored to what your profile indicates your interests are. This leads to a phenomena that political activist Eli Pariser has called the ‘filter bubble’ – basically an internet optimized to your preferences where you never have to encounter an opinion you don’t agree with. He warned us that Facebook and Google’s personalization tools would drive us to become ever more partisan by showing us only the news and information with which we already agreed. The algorithms feed each of us information that supports views we already have, and creates the conditions for us to be more susceptible to falsehoods.2 The Internet is not a tool for transparency, it actually combines your biases with data manipulation, and you get the opposite result of the new enlightenment that was supposed to come with the digital age.

By the mid-2000’s with its explosion in popularity and reliance on search engines, journalists and bloggers were more interested in attracting the attention of search engines than they were of direct viewers. Sites essentially lived and died by their page ranking. However, as the web switched from search engine based to social media driven, there was a gigantic shift. Getting readers to click on headlines and share articles is what Breitbart and many sites want. Under Bannon Brietbart developed right wing clickbait headlines such as the hidden camera expose of community group ACORN. By the time several inquiries cleared ACORN of serious wrongdoing, the 40-year-old organisation had shut its doors, and Breitbart had claimed a major scalp. Despite this, it becomes a media source that more and more people turned for their information. Breitbart News’ power was most in evidence during Donald Trump’s election campaign.

The economic elite use social media to create confusion and advance a neoliberal agenda. Not only is the manipulation difficult to detect, it is more difficult to combat than any other types of censorship, such as web-site blocking because it is dispersed and because of the sheer number of people and bots deployed to do it. The fabrication of grass roots support for economic policies on social media creates a closed loop in which the system essentially endorses itself, leaving independent groups and ordinary citizens on the outside. President Duterte admitted paying people for a social media campaign in which volunteers and paid persons or groups used social media accounts to promote him or defend him against critics. Donald Trump understands social media has a much more powerful reach than any other media channel – the entire world is glued to their phones around the clock. However, Duterte and Trump quickly become tools of the oligarchs.

At one time it was believed that the Internet was going to be the greatest tool for expression and democracy. The ready availability of online information reduces people’s retention of facts – they have lower rates of recall of information itself and enhanced recall instead where to access it. Using Google gives people the sense that the Internet has become part of their own cognitive tool set. In recall experiments the information lifted from the web page became a product that resided inside the study participants own memories allows them to effectively take credit for knowing things that were a product of Google’s search algorithm. Ideas on the web tend to be about problem solving, while opinions on the web are mostly theatre, in which emotions drive decision-making. The advent of the information age seems to have created individuals who feel they know more than ever before – when their reliance on the internet means they may know ever less about the world around them.

The Medieval church became the most dominant institution in western Europe. It was one of the largest landowners of the time and collected rents and many fees for offices and services. The church did not pay taxes. Its top down structure facilitated control of information and the creation of wealth, ultimately ensuring the abuse of power. The trickle down economic theory was rebranded in the 1970s to an ideology – supply side economics – the doctrine that tax cuts could be had for free (incentive effects would generate new activity hence more revenue) without causing budget deficits. Its creators never believed trickle-down economics worked – it was an ideology that was created to unite the right. Social media is a tool for counting, quantifying and tracking – which facilitates creating algorithms describing the pattern of behaviour characteristics of all subjects within group X. Neoliberals, recognizing their waning control of their ideology over the working class, are in the process of replacing it with data points from social media (i.e. Cambridge Analytica).

By developing a psychological profile using Facebook likes it is possible to develop algorithms to control and manipulate targeted populations for political purposes. Psychographic profiling of the electorate allows further segmenting of personality types into specific subgroups who are susceptible to precisely targeted persuasion messages attached to an issue they care about. Rather than a problem of social justice, data considers a problem knowledge – we just have to tweak the algorithm so that it works better. Its not that society is unequal – but that our algorithm isn’t functioning as well as it should. The advantage of data is it eliminates the problems of justice, leaving us with the conviction we now live in a classless society – in a flat and merocratic world. This data created by the economic elite supports the appearance that everyone is included, that everyone has a voice and that their voices count. From this perspective the only injustices are making false claims about exclusion, marginalization, and oppression.

Neoliberals stake their claim on data in which quantifiable behaviour counts, more or less, as political participation and enfranchisement, such that economic elite become even more deeply invested in developing more ways to quantify the behaviour (or opinion) of the working class. This data supports a ‘consensus’ society that they believe is legitimate because its rules are merely formulations of what people already do already.3 The Occupy Wall Street protest following the 2008 recession claims neoliberal ideology supports a system that allows control of information and the redistribution of wealth upwards. Joseph Stiglitz says the consensus surrounding neoliberal economic thought has come to an end – that an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth has now been pretty much disproved.4 As more and more become aware the Western world’s reliance on neoliberalism providing order to society and meaning of how the economic system functions is a failure – neoliberalism is dead. To drive change it is necessary to apply this knowledge using classical contract theory in which all agree/consent to the rules of society as we move forward on a path to economic democracy.

1 Druker, Peter. (November 2016) The Age of Social Transformation.

2 Newhoff, David. (25 Feb 2015) The Illusion of More.

3 James, Robin. (30 May 2014) Social Media, Because Neoliberalism?

4 Martin, Will. (19 Aug 2016) Nobel Prize-winning economist Stiglitz tells us why ‘neoliberalism is dead’

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Countering the Rise of the Rhetoric of Fascism

Nietzsche rightly foresaw that people need to identify some source of meaning and value in their lives, and if they could not find it, they would turn to aggressive nationalism and other such salves as xenophobia. Mussolini’s fascism tends to promote and exploit the grievances of ‘the common man’ portraying society as the theatre of ceaseless conflict – a class war – between oppressor and oppressed, victimizer and victim. Consequently, victim politics is central to fascism. Pre-occupied with community decline, more and more whites now choose to unite around their racial identity – human rights are now at risk of unravelling under unprecedented pressure, while the rhetoric of fascism is being normalized. Our intuitions about values are formed by history, so we can only understand them by historical investigation. Fascism is an ideology, not a natural law of science rather a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

The fin-de-siècle mindset saw civilization as being in a crisis that required a massive and total solution. This supported an ideology based on a revolt against materialism, rationalism, positivism, bourgeois society, and democracy. Social Darwinism, which gained widespread acceptance, made no distinction between physical and social life, and viewed the human condition as being an unceasing struggle to achieve the survival of the fittest. Social Darwinism challenged positivism’s claim of deliberate and rational choice as the determining behavior of humans, focusing on heredity, race, and environment. Its emphasis on biogroup identity and the role of organic relations within societies fostered legitimacy and appeal for nationalism. New theories of social and political psychology also rejected the notion of human behavior being governed by rational choice, and instead claimed that emotion was more influential in political issues than reason. This thinking supports survival of the fittest and preservation of tradition as best for society.

Robert Paxton says that fascism is “a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.”1 The original fascist ideology was developed in Italy – rooted in Italian nationalism and a desire to restore and expand Italian territories deemed necessary for a nation to assert its superiority and strength and avoid succumbing to decay. The rise of fascism unleashed an unprecedented attack on minority populations and communities. They promoted a national syndicalism movement that would be able to solve Italy’s problems, led by elitist aristocrats and anti-democratic believers who shared a revolutionary commitment to direct action through a commitment to fight.

Mussolini consolidated control over the Fascist movement in 1919. He declared opposition to socialism not because it is socialism, but because it has opposed nationalism. During the 1920 strike Mussolini aligned with industrial businesses in attacking workers and peasants in the name of preserving order and internal peace in Italy. The Fascists reoriented their policies – committing to secure law and order – to appeal to both conservatives and syndicalists. In 1921 the Fascists, who believed in the rule of elites, easily aligned themselves with the mainstream conservatives, increasing membership exponentially. Under a coalition government the Acerbo Law guaranteed a plurality of seats in parliament to any party or coalition list in an election that received 25% or more of the vote, which allowed many seats to go to the Fascists. When Mussolini came to power in 1922 he pursued liberal economic policies (in coalition with the Centre Party) that included balancing the budget through deep cuts to the civil service.1

Ernst Nolte argues that fascism arose as a form of resistance to and a reaction against modernity that consists of questioning or rejection of tradition – the prioritization of individualism, freedom, and formal equality; faith in inevitable social, scientific, and technological progress and human perfectibility. The Fascists accommodated Italian conservatives and the Catholic Church. They promoted family values including policies designed to reduce the number of women in the workforce by limiting women’s role to that of a mother. During this period literature on birth control was banned, and increased penalties for abortion were introduced – in 1926 declaring both crimes against the state. In 1929 the Roman Catholic Church received cash payment along with 109 acres in Rome to create a new papal state – the Vatican. The pope was allowed a small army, police force, post office, and rail station. With this accommodation with the church, Mussolini’s popularity was at its highest.

Charles Murray claims there is a class structure in the US based on IQ. In his book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010, Murray promotes a trickle-down value system. Rather than explain social problems in economic terms, he explains social problems in moral terms. The gap that Murray has identified is illustrated by the fact of a marriage rate of 83% in upper middleclass neighbourhood compared to 48% for working class contemporaries. So instead of contributing economically, the wealthy should be contributing morally to healing a culture gap which began with the disintegration of family values by the counter culture of the 1960s. This theme finds support within conservative groups who believe the poor receive too many entitlements and are better off if left to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. The attack on women by conservatives in the US is the claim that working women weaken the family and its adherent social values.

Steve Bannon became executive chairman of Breitbart News and proceeded to turn the website into a platform for the alt-right. The site is known for publishing conspiracy theories as well as intentionally misleading stories. Under Bannon’s leadership the site whipped up frenzy amongst nationalist groups by accusing President Barrack Obama of importing ‘more hating Muslims’ and waging an incessant war against the purveyors of ‘political correctness.’ Breitbart voiced support for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Then Trump tapped Bannon, a veteran propagandist, to lead his presidential campaign, along with Breitbart Media anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican messages. Bannon described the website’s ideology as ‘nationalist’– like the identity movements that currently exist in Europe. However, Bannon has stoked racist themes by accusing the ‘Left’ of a ‘plot to take down America’ by fixating on police shootings of black citizens. Bannon takes credit for fomenting ‘this populist nationalist movement’ long before Trump came on the scene.

Donald Trump was hugely successful in harnessing white identity politics and the politics of white resentment. Trump ran on a promise of restoration, a nostalgia for a time gone by, and the sense that America, particularly white America, is losing and has been losing for years. He promises to bring back the kind of greatness that once existed, but has been taken over by the politically correct that is too focused on diversity to recognise and support the forgotten white man. Donald Trump’s campaign promises included building a wall along the US southern border and making Mexico pay for it, and temporarily ban most Muslims from entering the US, as well as bringing jobs back to America from Mexico and China, and providing more funding for police training. Trump feasts on social divisions and has perfected harnessing the rage of the workers driven by the failure of neoliberal market fundamentalism.

The paranoia of white identity politics fueled Donald Trump’s rise in politics. He adopts policies to ensure the support of the evangelical wing of the Republican Party. President Trump privately signed a bill in April 2017 that allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, including Planned Parenthood. The bill reverses an Obama-era regulation that prohibited sates from withholding money from facilities that perform abortions arguing that many of these facilities also provide other family planning and medical services. In October 2017 the Trump administration moved to expand the rights of employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraception and issued sweeping guidance on religious freedom that critics say could also erode civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The main hook is Trump’s promise to appoint judges who reflect evangelical conservative values such as pro-life, and address threats to American security, customs and values.

President Donald Trump promotes full employment through nationalist economic policies, and to counter the status quo by promising to put an end to evils like corruption and tolerance and restore the nation to mythological greatness. Trump’s legitimacy has nothing to do with the sudden appeal of new right populism, but from their legitimisation by mainstream politics. It is necessary to challenge Republicans at the ballot box beginning at the local level. When Fukuyama declared the ‘end of history’ he was talking about ideas rather than events. He believed the rapidly expanding ideology – neoliberalism – appeared to be providing a balance of liberty and equality post cold war, that could not be bettered. In reality, neoliberalism enabled rampant creeping authoritarianism and the hollowing out of democracy. To counter the rhetoric of fascism it is necessary to redirect or transform popular outrage into a potent challenge of regulations and legislation that support the neoliberal elite.

1 Mussolini and Fascist Italy. Lumen: Boundless World History

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The Church of Everlasting Debt and Your Identity

It is easy to start a church. You need a set of by-laws – the governing principles of your organization. Simply adopt clauses from existing ideology you deem appropriate and re-write them to reflect your exact circumstances. The neoliberal ideology of deregulation, privatization, and user pays principle is a good start. Austerity plays a key role – it creates a more subservient population by intentionally increasing joblessness and precariousness for many, demanded on the pretext of bringing public debt under control. In addition austerity weakens the position of the working class relative to the economic elite while pushing the 90% into further personal debt. Private indebtedness unlike government deficit expenditure, bind the majority of individuals to wage labour relations. Workers with mortgages or other debt obligations will be more subservient in relation to their employers and less likely to risk their present positions in negotiations over wages and conditions.

Anselm was made Archbishop of Canterbury following the Norman conquest. He attempted to explain the scripture based on the community around him. His theory of atonement relied heavily on the feudal system of hierarchy, in which serfs worked on an estate for an overlord. The overload – a knight – protected the estate from attack. The knight, in turn, had to honour the king. The serfs owed the knight a debt of honour for their protection and livelihood. Anselm pictured God as the overlord of the world to whom is owed a debt of honour. According to Anselm, the reason human beings get into trouble in the first place is their failure to make good on the original debt of obedience they owe to God. Consequently, debt does not only name an economic relationship, it has theological, political and moral valences as well.

Pastor Joe McKeever observes that there are three kinds of people who come to worship service. The three groups can be characterized as: the browser, the customer, and the shareholder. The browser is someone who is looking for meaning and is checking things out before making a commitment. The customer comes to church for the music, youth activities and other connections to community. They will tell you the church supplies their need while they contribute by their presence and a little money. The third group can be characterized as the shareholders. These folks are the ones who take responsibility for the church’s well-being – its programs, its success – and make the church function. Shareholders – those whose hearts are in this church – interact with browsers and customers regularly so they can invite them to participate in the ongoing work of the church.1

During the 2016 election the Clinton and Trump campaigns reached out to various groups of people in the community. Even though Clinton was at her best when she spoke about American interests in the world, many times throughout the campaign she would slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters – groups who correspond to shareholders of the church (Democratic Party) – the fully committed. Trump, on the other hand, connected with groups in the community who were dissatisfied with the economy and their present lot and invited them to join. He did not make a specific promise, only he would make things better and address their concerns. Trump’s early message was designed to appeal to browsers in the community, a group who could be swayed to come on board, only later did he appeal to stakeholders. The Clinton campaign’s focus on identity politics and failure to promote a message for browsers contributed significantly to their defeat.

Leading up to the 2016 election, many were becoming aware that workers were growing restless with the increasing inequality between the wealthy and the rest of society. This included pundits like Steve Bannon who were looking for a platform to spread their ideas. Bannon came as a customer – looking for a place to bring his conspiracy-tinged ideas, and messages for right-wing Americans disillusioned with mainstream politicians. When he left, his economic nationalism message remained. A new church needs people willing to serve as officials of the corporation (church). Trump appointed economic elite as stakeholders with the appropriate belief systems and practices – assembling the most wealthy cabinet in history. These stakeholders include Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin, profiteers of the great foreclosure machine who know what it takes to effectively deliver ongoing massive upward redistribution of wealth. They understand how the neoliberal system works to create working-class indebtedness.

Distressed-asset investor Wilbur Ross helped get Donald Trump out of bankruptcy in the 1990s. Ross subsequently went on to become rich in part with government assistance, taking advantage of bankruptcy laws and tariffs and having others pick up the bill for pensions owed to employees. Using bankruptcy to his advantage he acquired only assets while others shouldered the burdens. In this process he squeezes every last nickel out of the bankrupt companies by firing workers and shipping business lines offshore – a common theme again and again as he manages to profit in the exchange. Ross’s direct investments in shipping companies, while shaping Trump administration trade policy, which inherently requires transportation of goods, has been cited by ethics experts as representing a clear conflict of interest. However, be assured these issues will not distract him from carrying out his stakeholder role in ensuring the well-being of the church of everlasting debt.

Donald Trump picked his campaign finance chairman, Steve Mnuchin, to be his Treasury Secretary. The Wall Street banker spent 17 years at Goldman Sachs, where he was a partner, and is now chief executive of Dune Capital Management, a privately owned hedge fund. He was part of a group who bought failed California-based bank IndyMac, a big mortgage lender and rebranded it to OneWest Bank. Mnuchin, as chairman and CEO of OneWest, developed a reputation during the recession for being quick to foreclose on delinquent homeowners, closing on more than 36,000 households. Quite simply, Mnuchin made himself rich by making others poorer, basically by expanding poverty. “I understand what needs to be done to fix the economy,” Mnuchin said, adding he would help implement “a bold economic agenda.” His past work experience will ensure his present involvement with the tax reforms will continue to enrich the rich, ignore the public deficit while dragging many more of the working class into debt.2

Ross and Mnuchin were profiteers in a crisis that bore nearly all its misery on the backs of working people who suffered from the misfortune of acquiring a high risk loan at the wrong time. It now appears that the foreclosure crisis that these two moguls used as a moneymaking scheme may have handed Trump the election. The Center for American Progress just released a study looking at the role of Midwestern housing instability in the 2016 election. They found that, between 2012 and 2016, negative equity rates – where a homeowner owes more on their house than it’s actually worth – got worse in counties in the Midwest that shifted from blue to red. The Democratic vote was similarly lower in urban counties where housing conditions eroded. In other words, Barack Obama’s handling of the mortgage crisis, by protecting bank balance sheets instead of homeowner balance sheets, may have cost Hillary Clinton the election.3

The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The purpose of the church of everlasting debt is to spread the neoliberal ideology – reaching out to the browsers and the customers to invite participation. In addition this church is involved in exposing the error of safety nets – credit becomes an instrument of capital accumulation, class regulation, and symbolic subjugation. The traditional antagonism between capital and labour has been replaced by the relationship between creditor and debtor. In a economy of indebtedness, the working class can no longer afford to live without expensive credit. Because all knowledge is a matter of perspective, knowledge is interpretation, hence many interpretations are lies. There is a need to accept uncertainty and reject concepts of trickle down effects and meritocracy as fixed, or governed as unassailable ‘truths.’ It’s time to challenge the church of everlasting debt.

The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but is defined by people. One reason people raise questions within a church is to address issues of concern. One of today’s issues is the disillusionment with a ‘system’ that creates increasing economic inequality for most. The term postmodernism appears to have currency for many browsers and customers in the neoliberal church. Postmodernism is defined as the reaction to assumed certainty of scientific, or objective, efforts to explain reality. The postmodernism in political science is the observation people resist realistic concepts of power which is repressive – Foucault claims individuals engage in daily practices and routines of self-discipline that subjugate themselves – in order to maintain a claim on their own identity and happiness. Remember the greatest fault of postmodernism is that it lacks an agenda for social change; it is time to pay our debt to the community. Why are you refusing to act, and accepting the status quo?

1 Every Congregation is Made Up of Three Groups (31 Aug 2010)

2 Ydstie, John. (30 Noc 2016) Trump Picks Steve Mnuchin To Lead Treasury Department

3 Dayen, David. (30 Nov 2016) Wilbur Ross and Steve Mnuchin—Profiteers of the Great Foreclosure Machine—Go to Washington

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Opportunities Lost: Create Your Own Truth

Neoliberalism rose to prominence by representing the subsequent crisis of the 1970s as a crisis of Keynesianism, against which the neoliberal project could be advanced as the return to the natural order of market society. The introduction of trickle-down economics was expected to bring about a new age of economic growth for all, but is now associated with increasing income disparity between the wealthy and the rest of society. The neoliberal model insists on comparison, evaluation and quantification, and now people are technically free but powerless. At the individual-level, neoliberalism insists that rationality, individuality and self-interest guide all actions. Neoliberalism sees the new normal as empowering individuals, and the shifting economy as a valid reason for underemployment with its increased insecurity. However, claims of freedom and equality can be used as tools of manipulation. In this system, the source of profit in exploitation is concealed, economic value is an expression of subjective preferences, rather than a measure of labour time.

A set of shared beliefs within a group is an ideology which influences the way individuals think, act and view the world. Neoliberalism is an ideology – that an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth. Cultural hegemony – the domination or rule achieved through ideological means – functions by achieving the consent of the masses to abide social norms and rules of law by framing the worldview of the economic elite, and the social and economic structures that go with it as just, legitimate, and designed for the benefit of all, even though they may only benefit the wealthy. Postmodernists believe that the West’s claims of freedom and prosperity continue to be nothing more than empty promises and have not met the needs of humanity. They believe that truth is relative, and truth is up to each individual to determine for himself. With a lack of objectivity we are not able to objectively discern factual reality from cultural fiction.

One analyses ideologies in terms of opposition, discontinuities and contradictions rather than in terms of cohesion and continuity. In a 1989 essay Fukuyama declared the ‘end of history’ – he was talking about ideas rather than events. He believed the rapidly expanding ideology – neoliberalism – appeared to be providing a balance of liberty and equality post cold war, that could not be bettered. He claimed that ideological evolution led to universalization of western liberal democracy, and all others should end their ideological pretensions of representing different and higher forms of human society. According to Foucault ‘knowledge’ and ‘truth’ are created by those in power. What we take to be true is the dominant worldview that we have been provided with: it is received wisdom, not truth. Foucault rejected the idea that society was progressing. The world is not getting better or getting closer to truth, it is just moving through different worldviews.

The ideas of the 19th century: Nietzsche saw nihilism as the most extreme form of pessimism, something that comes from weariness and an alienation from values. When one can recognize the existing value systems as meaningless and empty, and not replace it with anything, they become nihilistic. Mikhail Bakunin’s ideas produced a coherent defense of individual freedom and its basis in a free society. Bakunin believed that political freedom without economic equality is a pretense – a fraud, a lie. He believed that real freedom was possible only when economic and social equality existed. Freedom is a product of connection, not isolation. Bakunin insisted it is society which creates individual freedom through social interaction. Equality for the 19th century anarchists means social equality such as quality of condition, or equal opportunity. An anarchists’ society recognizes the differences in ability and need of individuals but does not allow their differences to be turned into power.

Bakunin recognized that the ruling classes blindly and stubbornly opposed even the slightest social reform and accordingly he saw a federation of free worker’s associations as an important part of the solution to ensure the requirements of daily life. Bakunin stressed anarchists should take an active part in the labour movement, as the strike was “the beginning of the social war of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie.” On May 3, 1886 violence broke out at the McCormick Reapers Works in Chicago between police and strikers. The next day about 3000 showed up at Haymarket Square, but as the police moved to disperse the angry crowd a bomb was thrown into the police ranks. Enraged the police fired into the civilian ranks killing seven or eight and wounding about forty. The jury at the trial was composed of business leaders. Lacking credible evidence that the defendants threw the bomb or organized the bomb throwing, prosecutors focused on their writings and speeches (their political and social beliefs). Immediately after the Haymarket Massacre, big business and government triggered a heightened anti-labour movement. Spun by mainstream media, anarchism became synonymous with bomb throwing, and socialism became un-American.1

The arguments of political economy were based on intuition and assertion rather than on rigorous analysis, but their strength rested on their ideological appeal rather than on their analytical rigour. Modern neoliberal economics is no less dogmatic than its nineteenth century predecessor in resting on a set of simplistic assertions about the character of the market and the behaviour of market actors. However, to argue that the neoliberal model is unrealistic is somewhat to miss the point, since the neoliberal model does not purport so much to describe the world as it is, but the world as it should be. The point for neoliberalism is not to make a model that is more adequate to the real world, but to make the real world more adequate to its model. This is not merely an intellectual fantasy, it is a very real political project to realise, which neoliberalism has conquered the commanding heights of global intellectual, political and economic power, all of which are mobilised to realise the neoliberal project of subjecting the whole world’s population to the judgement and morality of neoliberal capitalism.

However, modern economics is not a scientific discipline but the rigorous elaboration of a very specific social theory, which has become so deeply embedded in western thought as to have established itself as no more than common sense, despite the fact that its fundamental assumptions are patently absurd. Marx and Engels showed that the sole purpose of capitalist production is not the production of things to meet human need, but the constant thirst for profits to maintain the accumulation of capital. The market is, therefore, by no means the beneficent sphere in which social production is subordinated to social need as consumers exercise their freedom of choice, rather it is the arena in which capitalists desperately seek to dispose of their surplus product at a profit. Far from responding to the needs of consumers, capitalism thrives on the constant creation of unsatisfied needs; far from generalising prosperity, capitalism generalises want; far from relieving the burden of labour, capitalism constantly intensifies labour, to the extent that a growing proportion of the population are unable to meet the demands of the neoliberal system while being continually besieged with false promises.2

The idea is simple: the more money the people on top make, the more opportunities for the people below from the dripping down of that prosperity. The hidden agenda here, of course, is the rationalization of inequality. By linking the welfare of working-class Americans directly to the prosperity of the rich, neoliberals protect the insulated interests of corporations and the wealthy without the fear of backlash. It is no coincidence that the current attacks on the welfare state and public sector are accompanied by attempts to undermine core cultural and institutional freedoms such as rights of trade unionists and media freedom. These activities are undermining the freedoms and opportunities that had been achieved over the years through working-class, progressive struggle against the bitter opposition of the ruling class. The way to enhance individual freedom and bring about progressive change is to concentrate efforts at the local level.

It is not about a political party, rather a critique of the existing neoliberal systems of power, such as the identification of the workers who have been left behind since 2008, and how to challenge the maintenance of the existing power structure. There is no right way to approach politics, since there is no unifying story that is true for life or politics. With destruction of the grand narrative – trickle down economics – there is no longer any unifying identity for individuals or society. Instead the focus is on individuals – the sites where ranges of conflicting moral and political codes intersect, and the social bond is fragmented. It is much easier to be critical than to present a positive vision – many believe solidarity of the left has been fragmented by identity politics. We must not give up our freedom and allow our lives to be governed by an ideology that limits our opportunities.

The economic elite demand a dressed-up sophisticated economic theory be applied to society regardless of the outcome which has nothing to do with economics but everything to do with power. We now live in a world where those who can afford to spend the most money to have their version of it advertised widely define truth. If there is no single truth that is acknowledged by all the people, then one is able to question the action of the government. This is the greatest strength of the postmodern political landscape, as people are able to create their own form of truth and choose actions and politics to support it.3 We must promote changes that strategically accomplishes what needs to be accomplished – dismantle the neoliberal socio-economic system. It is necessary to focus on factors that affect the social determinants of health, associated with the healthcare reform and budget legislation that supports progressive taxation at the local level – then remember to vote. This change requires a great deal of effort from all citizens.

1 Part 2 of 2. The Rise of the new Anarchists (10 Oct 2014)

2 Clarke, Simon. (16 May 2013) The Neoliberal Theory of Society: The Ideological Foundations of Neo-Liberalism

3 Postmodernity

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