I just finished reading Naomi Klein’s newest book: No is Not Enough: Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need.
The book does a great job of identifying Trump for what he really is, despite his riding to victory on a wave of populist petulance. Trump is a neoliberal, pure and simple. And a very dangerous one. One who’s even less bashful and more bold than others when it comes to using the “shock doctrine” to push forward policies that favor the rich at the expense of people and planet.
Why does society keep inflicting damage to itself by handing over power to the Trumps of this world? What is behind the lure of neoliberalism. That’s the $100,000 question that this post will pry at an answer to.
My last post was an attempt to debunk the populist-inspired “globalist” conspiracies and reveal the real problem we all face: neoliberalism. I went through a very brief synopsis of how we arrived at this juncture, with societal power reduced to a proverbial sack of potatoes. The rich keep getting richer, and more powerful, while the rest of us seem content to sit back with the popcorn to watch the reality show.
Naomi’s book is a call to get up off the couch and do something about this! She’s right and I applaud her for the effort.
But why? Why do we let these guys get away with it?
Could it be that the idea that happiness and fulfillment can be best achieved via great wealth is one that’s ingrained in our societal psyche? We revere the wealthy. We aspire to their vaulted status. We buy Trump’s books and even pay our hard-earned cash to attend the disgraced Trump University. The message of both is that we can be like him…we too can have our wildest dreams fulfilled if we just focus on winning at the expense of whoever is on the other side of the transaction.
Trump is the most “transactional” president we’ve ever had. Granted, he’s running into some problems with that approach. Being president is not the same as completing a real estate deal. That’s because the “transactions” have more far-reaching consequences.
The problem is “we” can’t…at least not all of us. And that’s what neoliberalism does at its core. It rewards the few who are able to come out on top at the expense of the vast majority of the rest of us…and of the planet.
Neoliberal leaders talk about a level playing field (they call it “equal opportunity”), while doing everything they can behind the scenes to tilt it in their direction. If you’re willing to step back and look at the big picture you can see the truth in that statement.
If “trickle down” has worked so well, then why do the top 1% control more income and wealth than the bottom 90%?
It’s really not that hard to see what’s been happening for the past 40 some years. Wages of the middle class have stagnated. Income and wealth flowing to the top 1% have skyrocketed. And at the same time our planet has gradually overheated to the point where we are all about to get cooked!
In our country we hold fast to the capitalist-infused idea of the “American dream.” That anyone can make it and make it big in America. That even I can become Donald Trump, while ignoring the fact that even Trump was only able to “become Trump” with considerable help of inherited wealth and neoliberal-inspired pro-corporate financial laws and regulations.
Perhaps it would be better to call the “dream” a fantasy. Because it’s pure fantasy to believe that 300,000,000 wannabe Trumps, all vying for as much American pie as they can squeeze into their pie-holes, while ignoring the poor suckers who are starving, will ever “make America great again.” It (they) won’t. That mode of thinking gave us Trump and that should be proof enough of its inadequacy as a viable solution to the societal problems we face.
And if that’s not enough it also gave us global warming…
The lure of neoliberalism is strong. The marketing of brands like Trump have made it so.
But that doesn’t make it good for us.