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 (http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/cornel-west-trump-will-be-neofascist-catastrophe-and-clinton-neoliberal-disaster?akid=14499.18329.RO4EvN&rd=1&src=newsletter1061217&t=4)  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.

 

Religion, capitalism: the bullshit undermining democracy and hope

I am beyond worried.  I do not believe anymore that democracy is going to survive.  I do not think that an election alone will begin to save it.  We have the candidate who is the end game.  He could leave the scene tomorrow and it would signify hardly anything.  There are, in this country, a significant number of people who still would have Donald Trump as their president.  There are a significant number of people who believe that Trump would be good for the United States of America.  Their vision would make them pathetic if it were not so potent, so attractive to so many.  That many will be around after election day.  They have been around and made viable by us, we the people who somehow allowed the tea party to rise to legitimacy despite the ideas that were the tea party’s ideas.  We have allowed for the NRA to become a bigger than significant player in the process by we the people make the laws by which we allow ourselves to be governed.  We allow for perpetual war, begun with one war that we should never have begun to fight.

 

Our “sensible” politicians gave credibility to a president who was not credible, who was not the kind of person who should ever have been president.  We made due with a president who was not very bright who turned to advisors who cared nothing about democracy, who before our eyes made decisions that led to the deaths of many and to greater wealth for a few, amongst them the loudest advocates for war, amongst them individuals who would go to any length to justify what was patently unjustifiable, an invasion of Iraq that did nothing but make hatred of us a rallying call for those we have to fear because their hatred is so profound, their brutal acts against humanity justified to them through reference to the same kind of god God fearing Americans used to justify hatred of people whose ways and whose ideas they did not like, would not try to understand because it was against their beliefs to do so.  Religious freedom became an excuse for stupidity and that stupidity became a major pillar of a political party that was tolerated when it should not have been.

 

Our people, good numbers of them, saw the goodness of George W. Bush and the rest were far too respectful to those who did.  Good numbers of people voted guns before children and valuing of human life.  The process, if it wasn’t broken, would have produced some good sense measures to end the senseless slaughter of innocents by those who were free to buy weapons of mass destruction no matter who they were or what they had done in their lives.  Some good folk protested in Congress, sat down, took over the floor.  The whole nation of sensible people should have been there with them to “plug the loopholes” in gun law so ridiculously liberal that it is absolutely impossible to keep anyone from acquiring high powered weapons no matter how young, no matter how mentally stable, no matter how incapable of good reason they might be.  We fucked up badly and it looks like there is little reason to hope that we can do what is necessary to make things better, at least for a long, long time to come.  Mr. Lapierre is a formidable adversary of sane thinking and he continues to be an important person in our political system.  We fucked up really badly.

 

The only way to possibly get at our problem, and we are the problem, is to kick our own asses and make ourselves confess to what we have wrought by fooling ourselves into thinking that things in our country were really okay, that the problems would, somehow correct themselves.  Delusional and still delusional!!!  Did you hear what was said at the Democratic National Convention?  American is great and still the greatest country in the world!  Damn!  The “world” must be one hell of a mess.  And it seems to be a mess and much that is a mess we need look at and be bluntly honest in assessing our role in making it a mess.  And the notion that capitalism is not only good, but what is best.  Didn’t a Dick like Cheney and his Haliburton war tell anyone anything about capitalism and how when it mixes with governance (congress really is bought and sold and not by socialists or communists) government is absolutely corrupted?

 

And then there is the solution, the only good solution available, the only humane solution, education and education in the United States of America, despite all the good work by all those caring educators, hasn’t begun to educate people well enough to not get tripped up by the Cheneys and Bushs, the Billy Grahams (wow!!!  Now there is a toxic mix that received the blessings of so many, a racist, anti-Semite, sexist lunatic who make enough money off feeding people bullshit to keep his worthless enterprise alive for the generations to come.  Hello Franklin, you are absolutely insane, but respected nonetheless for you are a man of the cloth) and, yes those Democrats, those of the Democratic party who have had their hand in it, who preach that church is good and so is money, that education should be about jobs and resources thrown at entrepreneurs who will make everything better.

 

Democracy will not survive because we now believe in bullshit and have become a bullshit nation.  We bullshit ourselves by our tolerance of outrageous ideas that are taught as true enough in our schools and by our media and in our political debates.  George W. Bush at an early press conference where he gained confidence in the goodness of his ideas, his policy, the actions he took as “leader of the free world” and he said he prayed every night and was guided by God.  Shouldn’t that have been considered insanity and reason for impeachment?

 

It was not.  We tolerated him and we tried to get along with those who supported him and his cronies.  We didn’t do much to shame them for their lies.  We didn’t take away their riches.  We didn’t even ask how it could be that so much that was bad could come from those who we were willing accept despite their beliefs and the attitudes toward others that they said were shaped by their belief in a deity.

 

It is time for truth telling.  Donald Trump is evil but he is not the meaningful evil that needs to be purged from amongst us.  The true evil is stupidity and stupidity accepted as some kind of acceptable logic.  Inhofe and his friends can get their way by arguing against the legitimacy of science, arguing that the fucking lord is who we should turn to in order the understand how we should proceed.  The evil is in showing respect to those who should be condemned for their word and their actions, Wayne Lapierre and Franklin Graham, Roger Ailes, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney, the fools who run Hobby Lobby, and we who should know better but constantly are overrun by the likes of those named above.

 

Democracy has been dying for a long time now.  Religion and capitalism have killed it by preventing at every step the creation of an educational system that would serve democracy, that would do what is necessary to help we the people acquire the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that would allow us to make sensible decisions, use our right to choose to choose wisely and to choose for what is best for the good of the whole and not for what is good for a few stupid assholes.

 

Do we have it in us?  I doubt it.  The solution will be a Clinton and Clinton will carry on the tradition but with enough of a twist to cause the “sensible” to say “she is doing the best that she can and that has to be good enough.”  Bullshit!