The Exhausting Futility of Arguing With Neoliberals
Birds do it, bees do it, even regimented fleas do it, everyone rails against this government on housing, but to no avail. Gene Kerrigan bursts a weekly blood vessel in the Sunday Indo trying to yell sense into them; the Irish Times wheels on expert after expert armed with figures and rational arguments to try and prove that the government’s efforts on housing are wrong and suggesting better approaches; social media is alive every day with activists feverishly sharing “proofs”; buildings are occupied by well-meaning people to, as one said, “try and light a fire under Leo’s arse”, and everywhere the belief prevails that rational argument, good manners, learned professors armed with figures will somehow alter the trajectory of the neo-liberal machine and cause it to actually serve the public who are funding its activities.
Everyone appears to be assuming that neo-liberalism is simply a new twist on liberal democracy, a new way of doing things, a “pragmatic” approach to social and economic problems and so on. This is largely because those who were once kind of on the left like Tony Blair’s Labour and the Clinton administration as well as our own Fianna Fail and Labour realized that they would have to embrace some aspects of what were seen as neo-liberal “realities” if they hoped to remain politically relevant.
All arguments framed to oppose neo-liberalism’s often harsh and cruel social policies come at the problem from the assumption that neo-liberalism is interested in improving social democracy, since neo-liberals, when in government, appear to accept the social contract that they are being paid by the public as public servants to represent and work towards achieving the greater public good.
But neo-liberals are often quite blatant in their contempt for liberal democracy.
How is it that none of our experts are hearing them? Neo-liberalism doesn’t care about liberal democracy. That’s the whole point of the neoliberal philosophy, to dismantle the structures of liberal democracy. That’s what “good” neoliberals do.
While everyone argues with it as if it is a rational agent in the familiar liberal democratic rituals of political debate, the neo-liberals deflect all criticism by the use of evasions, lies and the creation of scapegoats in order to continue their work of dismantling the structures that allow them to be criticized.
Neoliberalism is a cuckoo in the liberal democratic nest.
Once seen in this light you can then alter your approach on how to deal with neo-liberals. For instance, if the ineffectual performances in the provision of social care by the current cabinet occurred in the private sector, which they champion so loudly, all of them would be sacked.
But only an idealistic liberal democrat with a belief in rational argument would argue that the failure of this government to address the housing and health crises is due to ministerial incompetence.
A neoliberal leadership, such as the one we have in Ireland, seeks to destroy liberal democracy from the top down, using all the powers and freedoms of that liberal democracy to do so.
That the neo-liberal takes political office at all is the first deception.
That the housing crisis has worsened under Varadkar is not because the problem is “complex”, as he recently claimed, or because his minsters are incompetent as their critics claim, it is because the neoliberal philosophy that they represent, cannot allow for a public work’s programme to build social housing.
The only complex part of the Irish housing crisis is the part where the Irish people seem to be asleep to the fact that there is a neo-liberal fox in the henhouse; an unelected taoiseach who quite openly represents business and business alone and who stated in the Dáil when asked about social housing that people can’t expect a “house for nothing”.
Judge them by their works, a wise man once said.
Neo-liberalism is a very simple philosophy. It is social Darwinism.
A neoliberal seeking election in a liberal democracy is like a vampire at the window, seeking the victim’s agreement to be beckoned inside.
The only real and tangible vision the neo-liberal project has is the destruction of the social gains made by Keynesian economics in the aftermath of the great crash of 1929.
Beyond that neoliberalism is blind to everything but the enrichment of select elites and the corresponding enslavement of everyone else to the harsh cruelties of the neoliberal marketplace.
In simple militaristic terms, neoliberalism seeks to occupy the castle, availing of its protections and perks to consolidate its position, before pulling up the draw-bridge and permanently bombarding the unwashed hordes with endless volleys of bullshit.