The Demise of Neoliberalism: How the neolib has lost it and where it got us

Text: Žikica Milošević

Each product has its expiry date, so has every ideology or economical system. The liberalism and liberal, or at the late stage, imperialist capitalism led to the First World War, and it did not get any smarter. Trying to surpress the revolutionary waves across Europe, it became unleashed and it finally got buried in the Great Depression after 1929. Then, the three ideologies tried to fill the blank space: Kaynesianism, far-right fascism and its offshoots, and Communism. Fascists have ultimately lost the battle in 1945, and Kaynesianism in the West and Socialism in the East were competing for many decades. And then, the Keynesian policies showed their systemic weaknesses in the 70s and have been replaced by neoliberal, Hayek’s model, called neoliberal. Reaganism and Thatcherism, conveniently dubbed in the USA and the UK, they somehow swept all the other concepts, surpriningly winning not over the welfare state in the West but over Socialism in the East.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (centre, left) stands with US President Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004, centre), as they listen to the American national anthem at Kensington Palace Gardens after Reagan’s arrival from Ireland for the start of the 10th G7 Seven-Nation Economic Summit, London, 4th June 1984. (Photo by Bryn Colton/Getty Images)

And, in a bizarre twist of events, the ideology promoting the right of choice started advertising itself as “there’s no alternative”. Funnily enough, the champions of working class, the Left, has chosen to be assimilated by the Neolib too. The transitional countries, like tragic experiment of Yeltsin’s Russia, have chosen to persuade their population that (you guess)… there’s no alternative. The systemic mistakes like bubble hinted some weaknesses of the system, Glass-Steagal Act removal was the Doomsday bell that nobody noticed. The Real Estate Crisis from 2008 showed that the problems are too deep, but the Left could not give us any decent answer to that. They did not invoke Lord Kaynes. They too became neoliberals. The zombie of neoliberalism still walked. The populist left like Podemos or Syriza tried to do something, but were smothered by Neolibs and shaken by their own disorganisation.

And like in every good plot, at the moment when the main protagonist thinks he finally escaped and won over all of his opponents, the new one appeared in a twist ending. And if was the new conservativism. It has the answers to all the burning questions. And don’t think, for a minute, that it is the old-fashioned conservativism. It is a mutated one, the neoconservativism. It has to do with the old conservatism as much as Donald Trump as to do with the Republican Party. Or like Tony Blair with the Old Labour. Or Putin with either Gorbachev or Czar. It absorbed all the leftist ideas that the Left itself has rejected along its way to the “Left Centrism”. Some even call this new version “paleoconservativism”.

When all the other ideas got discredited, neo- or paleo- conservativism shows its set of values: let us go back to the old ideas which stood the tests of time: family, nation, security. It derives from Socialism and the protection of working class. It derives from Gandhi too, and his prophecy of the fall of the Western World, as was wisely underlined by Slobodan Reljić. “Wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without honesty, politics without principles, business without moral, science without philantropy”. These are, indeed Gandhi’s words. It could have been words of any paleoconservative, any antiglobalist, Sanders’ supporter or Manu Chao, equally. These are all weaknesses of Liberal West that are rotten. Stiglitz noted that the “invisible hand” of the market is as real as the Emperor’s new clothes. No wonder why it all started with nostalgia for “Mad Men” and the times when “it was all in order”. Well, many people will say, “let us go back to the times when it was all OK. Now it is not.” And guess who got, incidentally, leader of this new conservative International?

Well, it was not surprise, it is Putin. He does not avoid USSR symbolism and traditions when they prove to be successful. Neither those of Czarism. Nor the new ideas. It is finding a new way, which is not liberal democracy, but it is democracy nevertheless. All the traditions proven to be good, are welcome and included. Strong state, where crime leads to punishment, is required. Law and order lead to prosperity. It is not Putin who used the weaknesses of the West. The people from the West saw him as a raw model for this new conservativism. Even Pat Buchanan confirmed that Putin is “one of their own, speaking for the majority of mankind”. Putin and the others are just the sons of the people’s rage. Againts Yeltsin, Hillary, against Wall Street, changing morality, whatever.

And the funniest thing is that Generation Y decided to move towards conservativism. Just as they abandoned CDs and digital download for vinyls. Just as they abandoned clean shaving for beards and white bread for the rustic one. And the second funniest thing is that Trump himself is the final stage of Neoliberalism. The system which forced entrepreneurship, finally brought to power an American president who is a rich businessman, forming a cabinet of rich businessmen and generals, acting for détante with Russia and for working Americans. How ironic if it really happens. And this is a son of neolibs who will bury the neolib system itself. Just like Yeltsin-appointed Putin buried Yeltsin’s heritage. Neolibs liquitated the Latin American Left, surpressed Sanders and Syriza, to get their final victory. Now they are in demise. Zombie will walk for just a few steps. And then, in a twist ending, when it thinks it has won, it drops dead.