Download the Episode Here

The Wikipedia page on Neoliberalism is surprisingly useful!

Neoliberalism by Example

We listed some great examples as a means of providing a shape to the term — a broad landscape — as well as to provide some demonstration of the critique of the critique; i.e. the criticisms from those who think the word is flung around too often. Here are a few of those examples:

Raytheon Pride

Also, somehow, “If I Were a Poor Black Kid” is still up at Forbes.

At the beginning of the podcast, we mention the climate change episode, which you can find here.

Download the Episode Here

Neoliberalism as a Cultural Force

Something I didn’t realize when recording this was that Current Affairs had a podcast episode that delved into this “freedom” problem that neoliberalism has. It’s a great listen, but it also looks like they wrote a piece promoting their guest’s book. Something I’ve found useful when talking about this topic is to localize it into various issues. In this piece in the Guardian, George Monbiot goes into an example from healthcare about why neoliberalism’s promise of freedom has resulted in more authoritarian conditions. In this YouTube video, Cuck Philosophy goes into how neoliberalism adopts cultural products in the context of “world music.”

If you’re into academic journals on the topic, this piece on the contradictions of “freedom” in neoliberalism is decent. In it, the author argues that the definition of freedom deployed by Friedrich Hayek — a seminal economic and philosophical authority in neoliberalism — necessitates an understanding of law that provides stability, not justice. The economic environment is supposed to be predictable, not restitutive. The paper makes some pretty choice points:

For this reason it is important to understand neoliberal freedom in terms of ideology, and not simply in terms of a grammar of power. However, it is not so much that we are tricked into believing that we are free in neoliberalism, but rather that the seductive image of this freedom works as a symbolic compensation for our actual precariousness.

The author points out that neoliberalism counterintuitively embraces freedom but makes revolution culturally repulsive.

A crucial effect of this shift is that senses of freedom that cannot be articulated in neoliberal terms appear delusional and incoherent. Within neoliberalism’s logic of “capitalist realism” (Fisher, 2009), individual or collective emancipatory projects that would challenge neoliberalism’s basic conditions are refused; such projects become fantastic, obsolete, or unintelligible. In particular, revolutionary struggles are constructed as vestiges of an archaic period and as expressing an embarrassing ideological backwardness.

This one is even better, too. The opening is a smart anecdote about how culture mediates our interactions and how we don’t enter into any action with a “clean slate.”

Imagine you are at a card table, and a dealer deals you five cards. She then states two rules for the game:

1. Ranking of hands is (lowest to highest) one of a kind, two of a kind, et cetera, with aces high (no straights or flushes).

2. You can exchange zero to five cards once.

When I conduct this game with volunteers, no one ever comes up with four aces and a king in one hand. Why? The most likely answer is “Because the probability of getting that hand is
extremely low.” I then ask, “Why did not anyone pick up the deck of cards and filter through them to find the aces and the king when conducting the exchange of cards? After all,  nothing in the rules specifies or prohibits how to go about exchanging the cards.”

This little demonstration illustrates one way to think about culture. In the case above, we participate in the cardplaying culture. Many of us have played enough games of cards that we now play with an implicit set of rules, in this case rules that determine the way we exchange cards. These rules have been ingrained into our performance and are largely subconscious.

The rest of the paper goes on to examine the cultural patterns of neoliberalism and how it has infiltrated itself into the discussions we have about education — about why we deploy business terminology and tend to avoid words like “democracy” in these discussions.

This paper goes into a genealogy of “freedom” as defined by and through neoliberalism and how it interacts with other “freedoms” throughout history. What’s notable is that the definition of “freedom” that Hayek puts forth in his inflammatory Road to Serfdom in 1944 doesn’t comport with the modern exercise of neoliberal structures — it relies on the concept of a minimal state, which modern neoliberalism eschews; while neoliberal politics would slash benefits and infrastructure in favor of private gains, it also engages in corporate subsidizing and exclusive corporate markets. This paper has some bangers, too:

The trick they employ is to maintain the myth of democracy through regular elections, but to evacuate any real power from the hands of those elected. Because they theorize a regime of self-regulating markets without the need of government, elected officials become simply the agents who ensure the preservation of the rule of law, and the establishment of an environment in which negotiations can take place between competing agents. The question of power is evacuated completely and thrown behind the veil of the neutral market.


If we use the distinction popularized by Isaiah Berlin in his seminal essay “Two Concepts of Liberty”, neoliberals adopt a strict definition of negative freedom, in which freedom is equated with an absence of constraints imposed on an individual by outside authorities. On the other hand, liberals in the common American usage accept to a certain degree the concept of positive freedom, which is defined as more than simply a theoretical lack of constraint; positive freedom requires giving people the means to exercise their free will. Negative freedom is often summarized as “freedom from” and is concerned with limiting the intrusive powers of representatives of the state on individuals; positive freedom on the other hand is usually given the shorthand “freedom to” and focuses on the freedom to act. In the positive freedom tradition the theoretical negative freedom in one’s private domain is considered insufficient; true freedom involves exercising one’s free will. 

I’m going to cite a few Monbiot articles. Here’s another one that demonstrates that neoliberalism as an economic system has produced the cultural artifacts we bring up above.

So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

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.

It’s taken our brains and defined our interactions.

Another word that reinforces neoliberal common sense is “growth”, currently deemed to be the entire aim of our economy. To produce growth and then (maybe) to redistribute some of it, has been a goal shared by both neoliberalism and social democracy. In its crudest formulation this entails providing the conditions for the market sector to produce growth, and accepting that this will result in inequality, and then relying on the redistribution of some portion of this growth to help repair the inequality that has resulted from its production.

This of course does nothing to question the inequality-producing mechanisms of market exchange itself, and it has also meant that the main lines of struggle have too often been focused solely on distributional issues.

Download the Episode Here

Neoliberalism as an Economic System

We brought up a Chomsky explainer, which you can find here.

Raytheon is proud of its diverse workplace environment! They’re allies!

Of the hundreds of signatures on Raytheon’s GLBTA Ally Wall – a set of banners to show support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees – one stands out in Ivan Galloza’s mind: Tom Kennedy, the company’s chairman and CEO.

It’s not just that Kennedy signed the wall. And it’s not just that he was the first to do it.

It’s that he underlined his name.

“He didn’t just sign it as if it was another piece of paper. He signed it with enthusiasm and, most importantly, conviction,” said Galloza, a systems engineer and a leader in Raytheon’s Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Allies employee resource group. “That particular moment made me feel that Raytheon was a community where I was welcomed. I had the big man at my back, by my side.”

This piece in Jacobin is part book review, part history lesson on neoliberalism as an economic system and how that defines our institutions — reshaping it to serve the economy.

But neoliberals have at times been forthright about their appreciation for the uses of state power. Markets, after all, do not simply create themselves. Joining a long line of thinkers, most famously Karl Polanyi, Mirowski insists that a key error of the Left has been its failure to see that markets are always embedded in other social institutions. Neoliberals, by contrast, grasp this point with both hands — and therefore seek to reshape all of the institutions of society, including and especially the state, to promote markets.


Mirowski argues that it also wells up from below, reinforced by our daily patterns of life. Social networking sites like Facebook encourage people to view themselves as perpetual cultural entrepreneurs, striving to offer a newer and better version of themselves to the world. Sites like LinkedIn prod their users to present themselves as a fungible basket of skills, adjustable to the needs of any employer, without any essential characteristics beyond a requisite subservience. Classical liberalism always assumes the coherent individual self as its basic unit. Neoliberalism, by contrast, sees people as little more than variable bundles of human capital, with no permanent interests or even attributes that cannot be remade through the market.

What’s amazing is that I found this piece while looking at critics of the term neoliberalism and instead stumbled upon a pretty good review of the concept.

There are a couple of ways we can see how neoliberalism operates in the modern economy. One of the most famous is Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine a book that essentially predicted the government response to Hurricane Katrina. There’s a few good YouTube videos on it — including the full documentary produced from the book — and this one featuring her has a striking anecdote about how Latin America saw the Iraq War.

This video, also by Cuck Philosophy (a great YouTube channel), goes into K-Pop and how “Late Capitalism” shaped that industry in unique ways.

Also, here’s an hour-long video by Marxist feminist Wendy Brown. Always take time to listen to Wendy Brown.

This is the austerity video I talked about from Mark Blythe.

I talked a little bit about the debt economy, which you can read into here. This piece goes into detail on the problems it creates on a conceptual level.

In the context of the debt based economy, it makes sense to travel 10,000 miles to the other side of the planet and set up operations to produce something that could have been produced at home so you can ship it 10,000 miles back to where it’s going to be used.

On the other hand, going into debt makes so much sense for owners of capital because of the way the economy is structured. Bain Capital is the most well-known example (Rolling Stone has an explainer here), but it’s hardly the only one. Generally speaking, it’s good for businesses to carry debt. Perhaps these incentive systems are a problem.

That’s where Richard Peet, who wrote a great book called Unholy Trinity, comes in. I cited him in the podcast episode and I really think his work is great at demonstrating the international aspect of neoliberalism as expressed through finance. He’s got an explainer from 2011 on “finance capitalism,” one branch of neoliberalism that’s unique to this particular point in history. In it, he quotes John Bellamy Foster and Hannah Holleman, who point out that

“the financialization of U.S. capitalism over the last four decades has been accompanied by a dramatic and probably long-lasting shift in the location of the capitalist class, a growing proportion of which now derives its wealth from finance as opposed to production. This growing dominance of finance can be seen today in the inner corridors of state power.”

Indeed, FIRE industries (Finance, Insurance and Real Estate) overtook manufacturing as early as the 1980s as the dominant economic engine in the United States. This contributes to the debt economy concept.

Whereas industrial capitalism primarily exploits productive workers through the wage system, finance capitalism adds the exploitation of consumptive individuals via indebtedness. The idea is to have everything bought not with dollar bills or pound notes, but with maxed-out credit cards, so that purchases yield several years of interest at far-higher rates than banks pay on deposits (20 percent as compared with 2 percent). The commercial banks and a range of other unregulated lenders of last resort (“no credit record, no problem”) reap the difference. The investment banks join in by speculating on this vast pool of debt, as with mortgage bundling and credit default swaps, where quick and easy money is made in large quantities.

. . .

In other words, finance capitalism intensifies old methods or invents new methods of exploitation, and new modes of discipline, that pass mainly through the sphere of reproduction rather than the sphere of production: credit cards and bank loans; inflated house prices; high commodity prices due to commodity futures trading; and a long list of similar mechanisms thought up by sharp financial agent minds. This intensified exploitation which functions through the medium of debt peonage, price gouging, and other, similar devices, is the economic and cultural basis for the worst excesses of finance capitalism.

We talk about Pinochet in the podcast but in this section of the show notes, it’s worth pointing out that neoliberal economists point to Chile as a success, something Klein points out is bereft of any intellectual honesty.

The Chile of the 1960s had the best health and education systems on the continent, as well as a vibrant industrial sector and a rapidly expanding middle class. Chileans believed in their state, which is why they elected Allende to take the project even further.

After the coup and the death of Allende, Pinochet and his Chicago Boys did their best to dismantle Chile’s public sphere, auctioning off state enterprises and slashing financial and trade regulations. Enormous wealth was created in this period but at a terrible cost: by the early 80s, Pinochet’s Friedman-prescribed policies had caused rapid de-industrialisation, a tenfold increase in unemployment and an explosion of distinctly unstable shantytowns. They also led to a crisis of corruption and debt so severe that, in 1982, Pinochet was forced to fire his key Chicago Boy advisers and nationalise several of the large deregulated financial institutions.

This telesur piece goes into a little more detail

The country’s economic successes, largely, are rooted in state investment and redistributive economic policies, while its failures owe largely to loosely-regulated capitalism.

. . .

By 1982, Chile had accumulated US $16 billion in foreign debt — the highest in Latin America — and foreign investment represented a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. The money flowing into the country flowed out just as easily, to pay debts and bills for imported goods and through capital flight as investors soured on Chile’s currency market. The economy had overheated and was now in a meltdown.

With a third of the workforce unemployed and unrest growing, by 1984 Pinochet began to “reform the reforms,” said Ricardo French-Davis, a Chilean economist.

. . .

Successive governments strengthened workers’ rights, introduced what was at the time the broadest unemployment insurance plan on the continent and reduced from six months to one month the period of time employees can work without a contract. Between 1990 and 1998, Chilean lawmakers increased the minimum wage by 87 percent.

Argentina and Brazil loosened restrictions on foreign cash flowing in and out of their countries, but Chile slapped restrictions on it. While countries such as Bolivia and Uruguay put the brakes on public spending in the 1990s, the Chileans more than doubled public expenditures on health and education between 1990 and 2003.

Other countries cut taxes in the 90s; Chile nearly doubled the taxes on corporations over that span. Brazil and Argentina fixed the value of their currencies — guaranteeing that the central bank would exchange local tender for dollars at a fixed rate — to combat inflation. By contrast, Chile devalued its currency and kept it on a tight leash to protect local industries from foreign goods that gained a price advantage against an overvalued local currency.

. . .

So discredited is neoliberalism in Chile that the national joke is to refer to the Chicago Boys as Si, Cago, Voy, which translates to:

I come, I shit, I go.

None of this is to say that trade is bad or that tariffs are good, but rather that there are economic approaches outside of neoliberalism that can enrich economies to the benefit of more than just a few. Nathan Robinson at Current Affairs has a great piece on what a leftist trade policy looks like.

This is what the right wants—a false binary choice between helping poor people in developing countries and defending poor and working people at home. It wants to frame trade as a dichotomy between free trade policies that lift poor countries out of poverty while making consumer goods cheap for us and protectionist policies that defend American jobs while keeping poor countries poor and expensive goods expensive. The right wants to use your compassion for postcolonial peoples to make you stab your neighbors in the back. And before too long, it won’t just be your neighbors who suffer—you too will end up afflicted with the consequences of austerity, poor quality products, and chronic under-investment in infrastructure and productivity. It’s already happening. Look around you.

So what is to be done? We don’t have to accept this false choice. We can trade with other countries on terms that protect our workers and force other states to treat their workers better than we treated ours in the 19th century. Rich states should demand, as a condition of trade agreements, adjustments in wages, taxes, and regulations to reduce or eliminate disparities in the treatment of rich workers and poor workers. It’s one thing if we import stuff from a foreign state because that state has real productive advantages in making the stuff. It’s quite another if we’re importing stuff from a foreign state because that state is treating its workers like meat.

Download the Episode Here

Neoliberalism as a Political Force and a Gateway to Fascism

We mentioned the concept of workplace democracy — or at the very least intimated that our dominant social interaction is inside an anti-democratic framework — and that concept has a rich tradition. Current Affairs also has a book review on that topic that serves as a good explainer, too.

One recent example is the ICE raid on Koch foods, which the New Republic points out is an example of capital winning over labor power — it operated as a show of force for workers who complained about sexual harassment and unjust working conditions.

The Monbiot piece above that refers to neoliberalism as a cultural force also discusses the Pinochet point that Ben brings up in the podcast:

It may seem strange that a doctrine promising choice and freedom should have been promoted with the slogan “there is no alternative”. But, as Hayek remarked on a visit to Pinochet’s Chile – one of the first nations in which the programme was comprehensively applied – “my personal preference leans toward a liberal dictatorship rather than toward a democratic government devoid of liberalism”. The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows.

This piece at Alternet does a good job of explaining why neoliberalism has maintained its political primacy despite its economic failures.

By the 1990s, even moderate liberals had been converted to the belief that social objectives can be achieved by harnessing the power of markets. Intermittent periods of governance by Democratic presidents slowed but did not reverse the slide to neoliberal policy and doctrine. The corporate wing of the Democratic Party approved.

. . .

The neoliberal ascendance has had another calamitous cost—to democratic legitimacy. As government ceased to buffer market forces, daily life has become more of a struggle for ordinary people. The elements of a decent middle-class life are elusive—reliable jobs and careers, adequate pensions, secure medical care, affordable housing, and college that doesn’t require a lifetime of debt. Meanwhile, life has become ever sweeter for economic elites, whose income and wealth have pulled away and whose loyalty to place, neighbor, and nation has become more contingent and less reliable.

Large numbers of people, in turn, have given up on the promise of affirmative government, and on democracy itself.

Monbiot’s piece on why neoliberalism resulted in Donald Trump is worth a read and gives a concise historical accounting of the concept.

The image header is David Harvey, who summarizes a lot of his thoughts on neoliberalism in this Jacobin piece.

So in that situation there was, in effect, a global threat to the power of the corporate capitalist class and therefore the question was, “What to do?”. The ruling class wasn’t omniscient but they recognized that there were a number of fronts on which they had to struggle: the ideological front, the political front, and above all they had to struggle to curb the power of labor by whatever means possible. Out of this there emerged a political project which I would call neoliberalism.

I posted the first chapter of the Henry Giroux book I talked about on the podcast, called the Terror of Neoliberalism. Spicy bits:

While fascism does not need neoliberalism to develop, neoliberalism creates the ideological and economic conditions that can promote a uniquely American version of fascism.17′ Neoliberalism not only undermines vital economic and political institutions and public spaces central to a democracy but also has no vocabulary for recognizing anti-democratic forms of power. Even worse, it accentuates a structural relationship between the state and the economy that produces hierarchies, concentrates power in relatively few hands, unleashes the most brutal elements of a rabid individualism, destroys the welfare state, incarcerates a large proportion of its “disposable” population, economically disenfranchises large segments of the lower and middle classes, and reduces entire countries to pauperization.’72

Under neoliberalism, the state makes a grim alignment with corporate capital and transnational corporations. Gone are the days when the state “assumed responsibility for a range of social needs”; instead, agencies of government now pursue a wide range of “‘deregulations,’ privatizations, and abdications of responsibility to the market and private philanthropy.”

. . .

In its capacity to dehistoricize and depoliticize society, as well as in its aggressive attempts to destroy all of the public spheres necessary for the defense of a genuine democracy, neoliberalism reproduces the conditions for unleashing the most brutalizing forces of capitalism and for accentuating the most central elements of proto-fascism

. . .

The liberal democratic vocabulary of rights, entitlements, social provisions, community, social responsibility, living wage, job security, equality, and justice seem oddly out of place in a country where the promise of democracy has been replaced by casino capitalism—a winner-take-all philosophy suited to lotto players and day traders alike. As corporate culture extends even deeper into the basic institutions of civil and political society, buttressed daily by a culture industry largely in the hands of concentrated capital, it is reinforced even further by the pervasive fear and public insecurity regarding the possibility that the future holds nothing beyond a watered-down version of the present. As the prevailing discourse of neoliberalism seizes the public imagination, there is no vocabulary for progressive social change, democratically inspired vision, or critical notions of social agency to expand the meaning and purpose of democratic public life. Against the reality of low-wage jobs, the erosion of social provisions for a growing number of people, the expanding war against young people of color at home, and empire-building wars abroad, the market-driven juggernaut of neoliberalism continues to mobilize desires in the interest of producing market identities and market relationships that ultimately sever the link between education and social change while reducing agency to the obligations of consumerism.

As neoliberal ideology and corporate culture extend even deeper into the basic institutions of civil and political society, there is a simultaneous diminishing of noncommodified public spheres—those institutions such as public schools, independent bookstores, churches, noncommercial public broadcasting stations, libraries, trade unions, and various voluntary institutions engaged in dialogue, education, and learning—that can address the relationship of the individual to public life, foster social responsibility, and provide a robust vehicle for public participation and democratic citizenship. As media theorists Edward Herman and Robert McChesney observe, noncommodified public spheres have historically played an invaluable role “as places and forums where issues of importance to a political community are discussed and debated, and where information is presented that is essential to citizen participation in community life.”‘” Without these critical public spheres, corporate power often goes unchecked and politics becomes dull, cynical, and oppressive.'” Moreover, the vacuum left by diminishing democracy is filled with religious zealotry, cultural chauvinism, xenophobia, and racismthe dominant tropes of neoconservatives and other extremist groups eager to take advantage of the growing insecurity, fear, and anxiety that result from increased joblessness, the war on terror, and the unraveling of communities. In this context, neoliberalism creates the economic, social, and political instability that helps feed both the neoconservative and the religious Right movements and their proto-fascist policy initiatives.

Especially troubling under the rule of neoliberalism is not simply that ideas associated with freedom and agency are defined almost exclusively through the prevailing ideology and principles of the market, but that neoliberal ideology also wraps itself in what appears to be an unassailable appeal to conventional wisdom. Defined as the paragon of modern social relations by Friedrich A. von Hayek, Milton Friedman, Robert Nozick, Francis Fukuyama, and other market fundamentalists, neoliberalism attempts to eliminate any engaged critique about its most basic principles and social consequences by embracing the “market as the arbiter of social destiny.”

He also wrote about the connection to Trump in Truthdig:

Decades of mass inequality, wage slavery, the collapse of the manufacturing sector, tax giveaways to the financial elite and savage austerity policies that drive a frontal attack on the welfare state have further strengthened fascistic discourses. They also have redirected populist anger against vulnerable populations and undocumented immigrants, Muslims, the racially oppressed, women, LBGTQ people, public servants, critical intellectuals and workers. Not only has neoliberalism undermined the basic elements of democracy by escalating the mutually reinforcing dynamics of economic inequality and political inequality—accentuating the downhill spiral of social and economic mobility—it has also created conditions that make fascist ideas and principles more attractive.

Under these accelerated circumstances, neoliberalism and fascism conjoin and advance in a comfortable and mutually compatible movement that connects the worst excesses of capitalism with authoritarian “strongman” ideals—the veneration of war, a hatred of reason and truth; a celebration of ultra-nationalism and racial purity; the suppression of freedom and dissent; a culture that promotes lies, spectacles, scapegoating the other, a deteriorating discourse, brutal violence, and, ultimately, the eruption of state violence in heterogeneous forms. In the Trump administration, neoliberal fascism is on steroids and represents a fusion of the worst dimensions and excesses of gangster capitalism with the fascist ideals of white nationalism and racial supremacy associated with the horrors of the past.

Download the Episode Here

“Neoliberalism” as a Buzzword

We’ve done a very poor job of getting across the unity of neoliberalism as a term. Jonathan Chait, who I’m not convinced is approaching this in good faith, seems to think it’s only a statement about the traditional political spectrum and not about the economic assumptions that undergird political assumptions. It shouldn’t be weird that Paul Krugman, a center-left Keynesian economist, and Joseph Stiglitz, a critic of international economic institutions, are both neoliberals – but he seems to think it’s a dumb category because of it – instead of a criticism that they’re both working with the same tools. That’s where that Jacobin article above comes from — his link to it.

He also gets the wrong ideas from a Chris Lehmann criticism of the Atlantic, seeming to assume that because the Atlantic supported Elizabeth Warren that it would immunize that piece from criticism on the left – and it makes a good point; neoliberalism, which exercises power and creates knowledge from institutions, presumes that a senator is most qualified to generate policy ideas. It’s a criticism that stems from standpoint methodology and not like an argument that Elizabeth Warren is bad (Warren comes up only four times in the piece).

The problem with nuanced ideas, of course, is that it is easy for bad faith actors to intentionally muddy the waters on them.

I’m ashamed to say that I thought I came up with a brilliant thesis on the nature of neoliberalism and its many forms, but Daniel Rodgers at Dissent made a nearly identical set of points last December.

But the problem with neoliberalism is neither that it has no meaning nor that it has an infinite number of them. It is that the term has been applied to four distinctly different phenomena. “Neoliberalism” stands, first, for the late capitalist economy of our times; second, for a strand of ideas; third, for a globally circulating bundle of policy measures; and fourth, for the hegemonic force of the culture that surrounds and entraps us. These four neoliberalisms are intricately related, of course. But the very act of bundling them together, tucking their differences, loose ends, and a clear sense of their actually existing relations under the fabric of a single word, may, perversely, obscure what we need to see most clearly. What would each of these phenomena look like without the screen of common identity that the word “neoliberalism” imparts to them?

It’s a great piece that examines the implications of these different phenomena. I promise, I only found this piece after recording this episode. I’m not sure I agree with all of it — for example, I think “neoliberalism as policy” extends beyond just the disaster capitalism Naomi Klein goes into but also the recentering of law as a “stabilizing” force that preserves an aesthetic of order above a realization of justice — slums are normal but kept out of the public eye, hierarchies are enforced and recognized, technocracies increasingly govern our day-to-day interactions to uniformize them, etc.

I think its discussion of “finance” definitions of neoliberalism go a little underdiscussed, and I’m left to think that it groups international financial institutions (the IMF, World Bank, etc) and the debt economy as the same phenomenon, but argues that the phenomena of deregulation and monetarism are a separate category. The idea that commodification and disaster capitalism — which sees vulnerable populations as resources for experimentation and a ready labor force for capital — are separate concepts a little odd, too.

Anyway, we need to refigure our political language and institutions to better combat the underlying logic of neoliberalism, or we’ll find ourselves pulling the trigger of the gun pointed at us.