Last time, in “Whatever Happened to the Good Society?” we warned against the commentators who were already, post the EC Referendum, rushing to write the obituary of neoliberalism – in apparent ignorance of the formidable political and other defences it had built around itself over its many socially divisive years. In Jackson Lear’s chilling words (London Review of Books, July 2015)…
“Neoliberalism is everywhere and nowhere; its custodians are largely Invisible.”
There’s much remaining to be done to fully locate and finally eradicate its deeply destructive social consequences; but in the recent, post-brexit, cacophony of comment, there seems little beyond the political posturing to suggest, even now, any deeper penetration of how this system works, has for so long maintained and propagated itself, usurps both the language and institutions of our democracy, and inflates our soul-less inequalities.
Which is why we need to beware the unblushing hypocrisies of our newly-minted, UK prime-minister and her cabinet of recycled purveyors of the very policies which enhanced our distress – of austerity, deficit and benefits reduction, homelessness and food-banks – now magically post-brexitised into the cynical new promise of equal opportunity, affordable housing, educational access and, in their leader’s patronising patois, “a country that works for everyone”!
How quickly our yesterday’s Globalisers have morphed into today’s leading European Flat-Earthers…
In a few short weeks, and with no direct electoral mandate, our government has been usurped in a xenophobic coup much more “un-English” and hostile to our historic “sovereignty” than anything cooked up by a Berlaymont official. Orchestrated by the Express and Mail, to a libretto by Farage, we have had to live through a Tory Conference of shameful demagoguery as ministers vied for pole position in the ‘keep out the foreigner’ – workers, doctors, students, refugees – stakes.
John Harris (Guardian 10 Oct) put it well in a plea not to allow England to be recast as a nation of bigots…
“…this poisonous illiberalism, this recasting of the way we view ourselves and the face we show to the world, has been given an official stamp of approval by a group of shameless Tory politicians at the top…”
The spurious, long-term, Tory claim to be the special champions of our history and guardians of all that’s patriotic is finally debunked. They are vandalising the very essence of our national culture and the precious birth-right of our progeny.
Nor should we ignore the chilling similarity of this (in Harris’s phrase) “poisonous illiberalism” to the more flamboyant xenophobic outbursts of their US electoral contemporary Donald Trump. The compulsory sending “home” or exclusion of all Muslims; the continental border “wall” against all Mexicans; these, for all their absurdity, are in the same hateful mould that our own, and reciprocating regimes, now choose to embrace.
For all their idiosyncracies, they are for the most part, still prisoners of the over-arching neo-liberal ideology which, through its long propagation of social and economic inequalities across our societies, degrades the human and cultural imperatives of civilised life in favour of an arid fixation on self and money.
The bad news is that, if allowed to get away with it, an unelected new UK government and prime minister plan to ignore the sovereignty of our own parliament and try to take us in a direction hostile to our culture and history.
The battle against them must, and will, be won; but not without some clearer exposure of the sophisticated processes by which the neo-liberal cult controls the commanding heights of Western policies and works its blackmail on our freedoms.
Time to call “Time” on these treacheries of small minds?