The defining characteristic of neoliberalism is it’s use of crisis and disaster to force its market based dogma upon a captive society. In the process, neoliberalism destroys community and compassion while encouraging rampant and destructive individualism.
This has been a 40 year political as well as economic project of our elite, who chafed at New Deal taxes and regulations. Going further, what bothered them as much as the loss of money was the loss of political power, influence and veneration.
The stag-flation crisis of the 1970’s provided the opportunity to force reforms. In Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics, Kim Phillips-Fein, spells out the details of the ruling-class shock doctrine.
“The New York City fiscal crisis was a turning point not just for the city, but the subsequent development of global capitalism. It sounded the death knell for the golden age of postwar liberalism, and heralded the emergence of finance as the leading edge of capital’s dynamism and power. With the city’s balance sheet in shambles, the banks that funded much of New York’s sprawling municipal budget used their financial leverage to foster a major political crisis — and Wall Street’s leading figures wasted little time in taking advantage of it.
The fiscal crisis served as the battering ram for a ruling-class agenda that sought to disempower local elected officials, bring public-sector unions to heel, and justify a brutal austerity program that became the template not just for domestic Reaganism, but for neoliberal “structural adjustment” measures in Latin America and around the world.”
What happened in the US is nothing new. Rulers throughout the history of the world have implemented divide and rule. For example, the English enclosure acts, drove peasants out of a largely self-sufficient village into the maw of the Industrial Revolution, while pitting them against each other as wage slaves. In the process political and economic power was concentrated and consolidated by a new capitalist over-class, while a new working-class was once more placed into chains.
History, however, offers many examples of resistance.
This alternative history of resistance is probably the number one reason that Howard Zinn’s–A People’s History of the United States, engenders such hatred.
The history of resistance reveals that if we want to defeat neoliberalism, we need to recreate communities that are self sufficient and resilient.
In our world, creating and nurturing community is a revolutionary act.