“They’re tryin’ to wash us away.”

Naomi Klein Saying No Is Not Enough                           Randy Newman Louisiana 1927

The term “shock doctrine” describes the quite brutal tactic of systematically using the public’s disorientation following collective shock-wars, coups, terrorist attacks, market crashes, or natural disasters-to push through radical pro-corporate measures, often called “shock therapy.”

(Trump’s) goal is all-out war on the public sphere and the public interest, whether in the form of antipollution regulations or programs for the hungry. In their place will be unfettered power and freedom for corporations.

We don’t go into a state of shock when something big and bad happens; it has to be something big and bad that we do not yet understand. A state of shock is what results when a gap opens up between events and our initial ability to explain them. When we find ourselves in that position, without a story, without our moorings, a great many people become vulnerable to authority figures telling us to fear one another and relinquish our rights for the greater good.

Neoliberalism is shorthand for an economic project that vilifies the public sphere and anything that’s not either the workings of the market or the decisions of individual consumers.


The primary tools of this project are all too familiar: privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the corporate sphere, and low taxes paid for by cuts to public services, and all of this locked in under corporate-friendly trade deals.

Neoliberalism is a very profitable set of ideas, which is why I am always a little hesitant to describe it as an ideology. What it really is, at its core, is a rationale for greed.

 

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