Cornel and the Neoliberal Hegemony

“CORNEL WEST:  Well, it’s just very difficult to shatter the neoliberal hegemony and the public conversation. The neoliberal ideology comes in a number of different colors. It could be Bill Clinton, it could be Barack Obama, it could be Hillary Clinton. And that neoliberal hegemony means that to trying to raise the issues of poverty — not just black poverty, but poverty across the board, to really zero in on Wall Street domination of Congress, to really zero in on corporate power, to really zero in on the military industrial complex — that’s a difficult thing. Neoliberal press, neoliberal politicians — it’s hard to get fellow citizens to look at the world through a very different lens as opposed to a neoliberal lens.”


This is from an article published on August 3 on alternet (  and I make reference to it here because, though I will not be voting for the Green Party candidate, makes a number of points I have been trying to make throughout the election cycle, in particular, the fact that neoliberalism is not very liberal and its solutions to problems are always solutions that first and foremost make secure the wealth and the system that produces wealth for relative few at a terrible cost to a great many.


West points to points that, for good reason, are being buried or, if they rise to the surface, are being dismissed as something of a long gone past, the Clinton era welfare and criminal justice initiatives that, as West says, were cynical and purely political moves, the consequences for those who suffered by them of no concern, even now when the solutions to what resulted are front and center in the campaign for Hillary Clinton.  She takes back her support for policies that, as West says, destroyed families and continues to destroy the lives of those who still have no jobs to find and who end up in jail for long periods of time because Bill got tough.


I truly am hating this election because it is bringing out the very worst in the American public.  Donald Trump’s candidacy is an abomination and what is ever more abominable is how that candidacy is making it possible for a died in the wool neoliberal to appear liberal.  As I have said before, I have no doubt that Hillary can run the country.  She is one of the smartest people on the planet and it is good to have smart people in high office.  But the people need to be smart too and recognize that there is a past there that, without a doubt, says much about what a future with Hillary will bring.


The three biggest problems in these United States of America, the one country powerful enough in the world to influence just about everything that goes one anywhere else, are unbridled capitalism, the influence of religion in the public sphere (this one makes me feel a little crazy considering that Cornel West has plenty of religion and makes reference to it in his political arguments—the latter with which I agree rather strongly), and education as it operates now to garner acceptance of both capitalism and religion as not only legitimate forces in a democratic society, but as ultimate goods that should not be critiqued or criticized.


Yes, the critic of capitalism is a socialist or, worse, a communist and the critic of religion is branded intolerant.  The educational system, its governance in the hands of those who hold the purse strings or who have the power to untie them, work, whether they want to or not, follow the rules that insure that critique is not a part of the curriculum.  Worse, the means for good sense analysis and critique of the things of the world is excluded from the list of goals of education in this wish-it-were-one democracy.  People who can think on their own, who understand that thinking is what makes one human (not what one owns) and that it is within an individual’s power to make good sense of what goes on in the world, such people are dangerous to the system, a system that is dependent on deception to keep it going.


Yes, real teaching is a subversive activity and not because it preaches an ideology but because it provides students the help they need to make sense of all ideologies, be they economic, religious, political, or otherwise to determine what out there is right and what serves their best interests, best interests determined by engagement in deep thought about purpose in life and the value of being alive as a human being.  Consider how undervalued thinking is in our society and that this is so because the institution that should be about thought is indeed about indoctrinating people in a particular ideology or set of ideologies, this obvious from the get go with the requirement that students on their first day, as a first order of business recite a pledge that they cannot possible have any thoughts about and will never be allowed to honestly critique.


So Cornel, you are so very right.  What is left in Hillary Clinton is right of center if one considers the whole package.  She is friends with those who market deceit to acquire incredible sums of money that they can then use to pay the way for a candidacy like Ms. Clintons.  They can pay her enormous sums of money to speak to them, to tell them what they pay her to tell them, that what they do is good and righteous and deserving of praise and not scorn.


I hate this election cycle more than the others through which I have lived.  I hate it because there is no need for the better candidate to earn my vote.  Her opponent makes her better and best when she is not really going to be that good for the country, that is, unless she truly changes her driving ideology, a change she now says is in progress because of the push from real progressives during the primary campaign.  But when she wins, most of those I know who want to be understood to be progressive in their thinking will accept that she can do no better than what she can do and what she can and will do will be very much true to that driving ideology that is neoliberalism and not liberal at all.


By lafered

Retired professor of education concerned with thoughtfulness

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