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The Race to Replace a Dying Neoliberalism

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/16/race-replace-dying-neoliberalism


This is an excellent article. Very accessible for a complex topic and one that is of utmost urgency given the existential multiple crises humanity (and nonhuman life) faces today.
All life is dependent on which direction humanity will choose to move in----
Will there be social cooperation or collapse?

From my view in Wisconsin we are going the route of collapse. It’s a nightmare here. What is unfolding is the antithesis of looking out for one’s neighbor and working together for a better world collectively.

Here in Wisconsin it is all about: “me, me, me . . f—ck the concept of us”!

In this country we have 2 choices (as we’ve talked about ad nauseam on this forum) decided by the powers that be and their enablers: a more prolonged collapse via biden or faster collapse with trump.

Keeping in mind that any human actions may at any time be rendered moot by forces beyond our control; earth systems/tipping points crossed or . . something like: “Giant Meteor-2020!”
In essence there could be fast collapse no matter what path humanity chooses.

Note the words that Walden Bello closes with:

"But history is also unforgiving, and it rarely tolerates making the same mistake twice. Should progressives again allow discredited social democrats in Europe and Obama and Biden-type Democrats in the U.S. to drag progressive politics back to a new compromise with a dying neoliberalism, the consequences can be truly, truly fatal.

If that happens, then that chilling scene in the movie Cabaret, where ordinary people led by a young Nazi sing “Tomorrow belongs to me,” has a great chance of becoming reality… again."

But at the top/title of the piece he states: “one would be foolish to count out the left”.

Perhaps in other countries people can still hope for the left to come through.

In the u.s. I feel foolish for counting on the left instead of counting them out!

I feel foolish for donating money (which I have very little of) and counting on the left in 2016 and 2020. I was there, in mind, body and heart----- really believing that enough people could turn this around.

To quote from a commenter on another site:

“One politician (Bernie Sanders) made it to the finals, could have been a sea change in general thinking or at least perception of priorities, and he was rejected.”

Bernie Sanders---- and those that supported him with such energy and optimism---- represented someone who could reign in our darker impulses the darker forces that are engulfing us now.

Many of us are held hostage by this system.

Many are willfully choosing trump or neoliberalism. And yes, the consequences will be “truly, truly fatal”.

They are fatal now.


Ordinarily, long rambles in here are campaigners hitting the same notes over and over, regardless of the article responded to. Caroline has a charming gift for rambling on point, imho. Whether contributors from Wisconsin are as gifted as Caroline or not, they should all be given full rein to ramble, I think, as Wisconsin really does look like a scary hotspot of social disintegration right now. That state has always been a fascinating source of visionaries and tyrants.

Back to the article: Sometimes I think too much of World 1.0’s left-vs-right framework is getting dragged out onto the fields of Gettysburg, and we haven’t even gotten to the address yet. Much of what we’ve inherited ideologically from the previous world (before Friday, March 13, 2020) is ill-suited to this one, because it carries assumptions recently proven invalid.

In what I experience as my own process of personal liberation, I needed to unearth deeper roots of magical thinking in my consciousness before attaining more healthy humility. A frame of mind I can live with.


Yikes Aleph Null!
I will blame my inability to be concise (as evidenced by my “rambling”, lol) on quarantine and too much time on my hands!

Wisconsin is now a wide open free for all but I am not at all enthusiastic about mingling with others here.
You’ve given me something to work while quarantined at home on besides my garden: being succinct!

And unearth my deeper roots of magical thinking-----thanks for that and your comments.


Hi Caroline,

My appreciation of your rambling was genuine. The other stuff is just kidding around. Please do ramble on. Concision is over-rated and there’s too much tweeting in here for my tastes.

One of my favorite weekly reads is Jeffrey’s interminable Roaming Charges ramble, which seems to take off where Dos Passos left off (though Dos Passos is totally out of style at the moment, apparently).


Can’t we get a more descriptive label than neoliberalism for destructive capitolism?


Sry capitalism.

I think that here in Canada the backlash against neoliberalism is pronounced. The Conservative party is very reluctant to critique the Government on all of its spending to help the people through this crisis because they realize the anger Canadians feel is genuine and if they do not get on board with programs that help the working class , even some of their die hard supporters will abandon them.

More voice and credibility is going to the NDP and the Green party. The Modi types and those preaching nationalism and ensuring Canada “remains white” like La Pen in France are not gaining any traction.

Now is the time for both the Green party and the NDP to keep applying that pressure.

A great article.


From, Post Hate Notes, Neil J. Smith:

9/11 got America angry at an enemy for bombing Manhattan’s Twin Towers, and rightly so. Save, of course, most of America thought of Manhattan as Sin City. Nevertheless, it was their Sin City, and another bombing it was infuriating. It was time to go for them with arms; to protect what is ours. We stood shoulder to shoulder against a foreign invader. We were Americans protecting America and fellow Americans, our love of Country came above all else. Today, with this pandemic, too many Americans go unmasked in public places, because it is, as they say their right. What becomes of supporting our country, its greater cause? We were willing to sacrifice our lives in War time, but in pandemic times we won’t sacrifice for our countrymen or love of country. Instead, we go forth with weapons of War, weapons which school shooters us to kill our children, and parade in front of Governors Mansions demonstrating our willingness to forgo every tenet of which we "pledge allegiance.”

As poet W.H. Auden penned, “We must love one another or we must die."

So, this dying neoliberal agenda can go either way in US America for too many reasons to post here.

So the subjective element, the psychological critical mass, is there. It is a whirlwind that is waiting to be captured by contending political forces. The question is who will succeed in harnessing it.


Here in US America this can go in either directions and the 2016 election has made that clear.

Wisconsin: Visionaries and Tyrants

That is a book title! So true.


Not that it will help, but what you describe is spreading across this nation and where I live, Vermont, even in everyday affairs too many are not taking this pandemic very seriously–even countless at risk older people. That gospel of “exceptionalism” has long infected this nation and the idea of personal responsibility divorced from social responsibility has gotten us all to where we are. These ideologies are a perfect fit for a capitalist system without any restraints.

The problem, as I see it, that Trump is very willing to destroy Life as we know it and why he is worse than Hitler. If we can at least get Trump out we might have a fighting chance to stop a potential nuclear war and/or ecological collapse but we must get serious about offering an opposition. After this election, whichever way it goes, I will lend support to eco-socialists as in the Green Party which does need to become more radicalized.


Hi Caroline,

I’ve been involved with a good bit of organizing efforts aimed at bringing together communities working for alternative economic/political structures. Right now it’s sausage making. Messy, lots of mistakes, people getting pissed with one another, and intense attacks from moderates as well as progressives who are unwilling to accept anything different than their specific framework . It will be a long process, and there are no guarantees, but I have hope that such efforts have the potential for bringing about structural change.

I suggest you look into work by people at Science for the People (ttps://scienceforthepeople.org/) or solidarity economy (ttps://thenextsystem.org/learn/stories/solidarity-economy-building-economy-people-planet).

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Hey Caroline

Very interesting and thought provoking comment.

A little bit of embracing your own limitations, or at least defining them. This isn’t new btw, more exaggerated with the pandemic so it includes a larger group. Everyone examines the political labels which are growing less coherent and reliable. It is a growth period.

Gardening, is using earth energy, I suspect for you that is quite real and probably still indigenous to your area.

Social trends, too weird, but we by our behavior, are contributing to the level of narcissism in our culture. It doesn’t effect everyone the same way so there will always be disagreement about what it is or how to fix it. Basically, we spend the most time determining what it is and then rustle through the dust bin of history looking for the answer. After finding a convenient label whether it fits or not (see how it applies to current issues) ask everyone to embrace it. (As if the left or right meant the same thing then as now instead of asking what is needed now) History, is a little unforgiving in that way.

There are some other things, I liked your comment, mostly for the honesty.

I think there is an unhealthy reliance on Hitler as a social and political figure, more important are the conditions the allowed and supported his ascendancy. Just my 2 cents.


Pity it didn’t go both ways, like after 1860. Splitting the nation.
I think there remains some transfer value to the WWII Morganthau Plan, that if the USA were split into two or more countries, each deciding their own direction, as Czechoslovakia did in 1991, it would be better and more peaceful for us, and the whole world. End of empire.


I liked Ms. Bello’s article, however I feel that this pandemic will do nothing to undermine the Establishment. The absence of a functioning democracy in the U.S. means that the Establishment will use this opportunity to double down and enrich themselves more. It’s like the scorpion and the frog; the scorpion just can’t help itself.
Bello recognizes that the ‘Right’ have the advantage. The Right has had the advantage for generations now as both corporate Parties try to ‘out Right each other’ anytime the two factions debate. As I mentioned in a previous post, there is simply too large of a “middle class” in America that will never back even a soft social revolution. The hyper right wing narrative that dominates American social, political and cultural aspects may not be believed by most Americans, but the financially secure portion of the population is quite willing to live with the social inequality that plagues so many people.
I’m not giving up, but I do believe that this particular crisis is not our ticket to forcing the hand of the Establishment to take notice of the bottom half of Americans.

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God bless you, Caroline!

I’m very impressed with this article.
The U.S.A. currently has two right wing parties-- Republicans are KKK updates and Democrats are “nobless oblig” fakes who mask their cliques with multi- everything… diversity, pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-immigrant, pro-trade, etc. Both parties are picking our pockets and killing millions.
Our challenge: we’re a nation of addicts… food, drink, television, facebook, favorite websites. We need time to get clean, go through the withdrawls, start to re-connect, get strong slowly, slow down, unplug, learn how to see, learn how to listen, learn how to converse with neighbors, help each other, have conversations that include offers to help out, tell our own stories, turn away from the Trumps and Bidens who try to convince us that we need them. We don’t.


Great posts! Alas, Michigan is no better than Wisconsin, with armed protestors showing up at the State Capitol with the governor hung in effigy.
Alas, I tend to ramble, but that’s the autism kicking in.
We’re on the edge of a sword perched over a magma pool. The US can go many ways. I look for a splitting, myself. It’s been coming since 1861, just delayed for 150+ years. The Southern Elite Planters philosophy that there are only a few worthy humans, the makers, and the rest are inferior takers is chilling, and described in detail in Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains.
Live in hope.


So nice to hear from you sekmetsdaughter. Thanks for responding—I appreciate your posts. I think you are on to something with the splitting . . . yes, delayed for 150 years. Nancy MacLean is brilliant!

Sorry about what is happening in Michigan.

Hopefully you can savor May and the spring migrant birds that make it back to the upper midwest. I’ve got about 8 rose breasted grosbeaks at our feeders now. Orioles, hummingbirds . . live in the moment, savor all that remains of what is beautiful in this world.
They (the birds) are an antidote to the neoliberal love fest that is taking place all over MSM tonight for virtual college graduations. The list of speakers (I had to take a peek–we are NOT watching) is the who’s who of neoliberalism. So ironic and tragic. I have a grieving college graduate at home with me now.