Neoliberals believe that a market society is the natural and inexorable state of humankind, where Americans are not citizens so much as consumers. However, neoliberals recognize that this state of affairs will not arise naturally and must be constructed through political organizing. Therefore, the neoliberal political goal has been to seize the state and deploy it to create their market dystopia.
In my last post I said that I wanted to lay out some steps we could take that will help build a progressive community/mass movement.
Along those lines, I propose a judo approach, where we use our opponents strengths against them. If we are simply consumers rather than citizens we should seize the market and create a local economy that recycles capital and helps create well paying employment in our communities.
Creating a local economy requires an honest appraisal of our buying habits. What I see is that shopping has become an activity whose reward comes from getting the lowest price. The triumph of neoliberal market propaganda has been to convince Americans to shop non-stop, always seeking out the lowest possible price. It’s a race to the bottom, and it’s impoverishing us.
The first rule of a local economy is stop being so fucking cheap! Stop shopping on Amazon. Jeff Bezos is a dick. And, don’t ever shop at Walmart. The Walton’s are greedy sociopaths who fund the worst sorts of policies.
Instead, go local.
I know it’s not always possible but when it is find a local merchant that carries what you need. Talk to these local merchants and tell them why you are frequenting their establishment. This communication is the key to recreating a progressive community, as you develop a new circle of acquaintances. Tell your friends and encourage them to do likewise. Supporting local business and markets makes a lot of sense. Food is obvious. Shop at local farmers markets, and grocers and eat better. Start a garden.
Yes, local business can be more expensive, but this is only because the big box and internet corporations are externalizing their costs. These costs are still there but you and I and the rest of the world are paying them. Writer John Michael Greer says that these costs have been pushed under the rug for so long now that “the rug is getting mighty lumpy.”
If you have been paying attention, then you know as well as I that these costs are beginning to come home like a flock of diseased chickens. Global warming is the most obvious, but there are many, many others, like the massive inequality that’s the story of this election, and how hydraulic fracking is contaminating our water supply. Here locally, one of our lakes that provides water has been closed due to a massive toxic algae bloom.
Lambert, at Naked Capitalism has a great saying that satirizes neoliberalism–Because neoliberal markets, go die.
My version goes like this–Because local markets, go live.