Cornel West, a Boycott board member, has been quoted calling Joe Biden “a neoliberal disaster,” while Branko Milanović describes Trump as “the Ultimate Triumph of Neoliberalism.”
So, which one is it? If Trump and Biden are both Neoliberals, what the fuck is Neoliberalism anyway? I know what many of you are thinking: what does Neoliberalism have to do with me and why should I care? Let me try to explain. The term is being used in academia and in the media to conceal the evils of a system that is destroying our communities. A term that sounds like it is progress, but is really just the rich justifying their hoarding, cheating, and stealing.
Politically, liberalism or “a liberal” is associated with someone on the left. Merriam-Webster defines political liberalism as a “philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties.” Sounds good, right?
Economic liberalism, however, is defined in the same dictionary as “a theory in economics emphasizing individual freedom from restraint and usually based on free competition, the self-regulating market, and the gold standard.”
This is where things get twisted. Neoliberalism is the marriage of these two definitions sprinkled with hate, or as Merriam-Webster puts it, a Neoliberal is “a liberal who de-emphasizes traditional liberal doctrines in order to seek progress by more pragmatic methods.” Dictionary.com defines Neoliberalism as “an outgrowth of the liberal political movement that is more moderate than traditional liberalism, especially in its embrace of free-market capitalism.”
What does that all mean? A Neoliberal would tell you that it means the answers to all worldly problems can be found in the market by means of capital and innovation. But what it really means is that it’s all a game of pimps and hoes. Neoliberalism is a theory that believes money is God. It places the accumulation of wealth of a few, over the well-being of everyone else. People, who will never have access to wealth, will work for, vote for and defend the elites, because they have swallowed the lie that everyone who works hard has a shot at becoming “a boss” one day.
Don’t believe the hype. This system requires an underclass and there are people who will live and die in poverty — not because they are undeserving of success — but because Neoliberalism and capitalism require it. Wu-Tang told us about the trials and tribulations of Neoliberalism in their track, C.R.E.A.M., or “Cash Rules Everything Around Me.” C.R.E.A.M. equals the American Dream. A dream that is constantly being pursued by people from all walks of life. A dream that is destroying our lives.
Carlin told us that, “it’s called the American Dream, because you have to be asleep to believe it.” And George Monbiot writes, “Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.”
During a global pandemic, many good people have been risking their lives to organize and fight the ceaseless police brutality in this country. White supremacy is being challenged in the streets of America and politicians are scrambling to find a way to pacify the most vulnerable amongst us, while simultaneously staying in the good graces of the ruling class. They’re saying fuck a revolution, shut up, work hard and maybe one day you can be like these rich folks.
Neoliberalism is why Biden can hear very loud voices from the people who got him elected and ignore them altogether. He has repeatedly reminded us that he and Harris are not socialists or “radicals” as Trump had claimed. They are Neoliberals just like him, beholden to the banks and the Almighty dollar, like every other President since Reagan.
It all comes down to the free market and competition, code words for the rich maintaining control of everything. So, universal healthcare for all is out and a system that allows insurance companies to “compete” is in. We can’t defund the police because the rich rely on them to protect their property and their interests. At one of his fundraisers, Biden assured his wealthy donors that he wouldn’t “demonize” the rich in office and promised that “no one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change.”
In the land of opportunity, too many of us have been lulled into thinking that we can escape crime, sickness, and inequality through the acquisition of affluence. Snap out of it fam. Don’t give up on your dreams, but we must understand that all people deserve adequate food, clothing, and shelter as well as fair treatment under the law.
Everyone I know is waiting on a meager $600 stimulus check so that they might pay a portion of an overdue bill or their rent or mortgage. The wealth gap is widening enough for many of us to fall to our end. The sooner we realize that the status quo is detrimental to most Americans, especially marginalized communities, the better. That is when we organize and end the reign of Neoliberalism for good.
As a Neoliberal, Biden’s incoming administration is primed to serve Wall Street and the Military Industrial Complex. For those who say America will revert back to the good old days of Obama, you might be right. We might go back to when Obama and Biden let greedy bankers off the hook after exploiting billions during the housing bubble crisis.
Surely Biden, the man who wrote the 1994 crime bill and eulogized Strom Thurmond has evolved over time. Right? I mean his VP is Black, a Womxn AND Asian, right? That has to count for something. Right???? A lot of us are looking forward to a diverse cabinet and it looks like we’ll get one. A cabinet full of “firsts” can be inspiring, but let’s look beneath the surface.
Since it’s “Neoliberalism Over Everything,” imperialism will always be on the table. For example, Biden has already appointed retired Gen. Lloyd Austin as defense secretary. A man that oversaw the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, while quite possibly facilitating the rise of Isis. Austin sits on the board of a military defense firm (see Raytheon), so there will undoubtedly be more war-mongering on the horizon.
Obviously the Biden-Harris administration doesn’t mind putting Black and Brown people in high places as long as they can maintain the status quo, which does not mean progress for the vast majority of Black and Brown people. Until Neoliberalism is dead, freedom fighters will have to keep demanding justice for the people in the face of greedy Wall Street fat cats. And that is why we should know who we are fighting and understand their jargon.
Neoliberalism, which sounds like it should be a good thing, is driving the demise of our people and our planet and it must be destroyed before it destroys us.
lyfestilelyfestile is a St. Louis, MO based Hip Hop artist, writer, speaker, and event organizer. His writings have been published by XXL magazine, Deluxmag.com, and RawRoots.com. He is one of the organizers of the St. Louis Underground Music Festival *(SLUMFEST), a yearly event in St. Louis that highlights Hip Hop music and culture. Working with The Boycott Times is another way in which he hopes to utilize the revolutionary nature of Hip Hop as a conduit for enlightenment and education.