Breaking Open the Liberal Echo Chamber…

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  • KM

    Mark, that is an excellent article you linked to, and one worth reading. It points out how ideas and beliefs we assume are conservative are really liberal. Basically we’ve all accepted liberal premises in one form or another. The pursuit of market “freedom” by “conservatives” is one example. The final paragraph sums it up well, as does this excerpt:

    “So what are some of the liberal “fruits” we see today? One could point to a dramatic attenuation of Catholic culture, belief, and practice; or the triumph of capitalist materialism, with its reduction of persons to units of consumption and debt; or an advertising-driven popular culture that belches up one obscenity after another; or a vast national security state that lurches from war to war in the name of
    “freedom”; or the divinization of “choice,” which reaches its apex in abortion on demand; or the pulverizing of civil society, ground to fine powder between the state and the market. This is who we are now: secular, rationalist, relativists all, and thoroughly liberal. The blessings of liberty, indeed.”

  • Michael

    I don’t get how you can (correctly) denounce the Dark Enlightenment but endorse what is essentially the same reactionary authoritarianism.

  • KM

    Today’s hyper-capitalism, which is embraced by many conservatives, is called neoliberalism because it came from classical liberalism. So when we think we’re reacting against liberals by promoting, for example, the unregulated “free market,” we’re supporting neoliberalism. We’re unwitting participants in the liberal echo chamber.

    “In order to explain neoliberalism I think it is crucial to understand
    its duel character as being both reactionary and progressive…Neoliberalism only emerged in the 1930s when liberals started to
    confront the failures of classical liberalism and redevelop the
    progressive elements in an ‘unorthodox’ fashion so as to direct social
    change. That’s basically why they are not simply reactionary in terms of
    preventing socialism. It’s important to not underestimate the
    progressive element of neoliberalism in its strategic function of
    guiding social change.”

    “The other very important aspect, which we see now in the US Republican
    election campaign, is that neoliberals, particularly in the US, built a
    very solid political alliance with the religious right. This is not the
    same as the work within the neoliberal networks in terms of the
    intellectual pluralism of neoliberalism. It is a straightforward
    political alliance.

    “Many of these people were building bridges to the religious right even
    though their economic policy ideas did not necessarily coincide and they
    frequently disagreed on issues like abortion or gay rights, for
    example. Nevertheless, the secret behind the Reagan and George W. Bush
    administrations was that they managed to build a very strong strategic
    alliance between the camp of neoliberalism and the camp of the religious
    right.”

    http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/defending_capitalism_the_rise_of_the_neoliberal_thought_collective_part_1

    http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/defending_capitalism_the_rise_of_the_neoliberal_thought_collective_part_2

    • KM

      And more:

      “So neoliberals on the one hand want to be the party of progress, like the classical liberals who were of course fighting against feudalism and guiding the transformation of society, but on the other hand neoliberals are against the socialist transformation of society, which makes them a very strong force in the conservative camp.

      “So there’s a huge contradiction and clearly neoliberalism cannot be understood without understanding this double feature: the connection to liberalism through emphasising progress and individualism, and on the other hand being a part of conservatism against socialism.

      Neoliberals have been closely connected to right-wing parties of
      different colours: Christian Social Democrats, right-wing Tories in the UK, Republicans in the US and even military dictatorships, which are absolutely committed to preventing changes sought by social movements. Theoretically they can be on the other side of the conservatives in terms of basic philosophy. But politically they are strong allies of a whole range of conservatives.”


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