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 The Church of Neoliberalism tells us that “There's no such thing as society.” And, whatever your beef with neoliberalism, “There is no alternative.”

 The Church of Neoliberalism tells us that “There's no such thing as society.”  And, whatever your beef with neoliberalism, “There is no alternative.” (GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images)

Neoliberalism Doesn’t Care

'Neoliberalism is a relentless and shameless assault on the commons: the planet, public health, community, public spaces, rich conversation, trust, love, history, clean air and clean water. '

Tim Koechlin

Neoliberalism is the aggrandizement of The Market and the disparagement of the state.

Neoliberalism is the aggrandizement of private property and the disparagement of the commons.

Neoliberalism is the smashing of unions, the selling of public lands, the degradation of public spaces, unsafe workplaces, underfunded schools, homelessness, and gentrification.

Neoliberalism is the privatization of Social Security and the relentless insistence that we “can’t afford” Medicaid and Medicare. 

Neoliberalism is individualism.  Neoliberalism is the presumption that human beings are disconnected and selfish by nature.

Neoliberalism is tax cuts for the rich. 

Neoliberalism is IMF structural adjustment programs.

Neoliberalism is the prioritization of property and the “freedom” of property owners over people.

Neoliberalism is profits before people.

Neoliberalism is “financial deregulation,” that is, liberating banks to plunder without accountability, that is, liberating banks to put the global economy at risk – again and again - in order to fatten their bottom lines.

Neoliberalism is amoral. And neoliberalism insists that the repayment of debt is a moral imperative.

Neoliberals can’t stop worrying about “moral hazard.”

Neoliberalism wants us to believe that what’s good for General Motors is good for the rest of us.   

Neoliberalism is the insistence that, actually, we should thank big capital for exploiting human beings and the planet.

Neoliberalism is the insistence that we should facilitate – by deregulation, liberalization and privatization - big capital’s exploitation of human beings and the planet. 

Neoliberalism is the insistence that economic pain is “good for the economy.”

Neoliberalism is the insistence that squeezing debtors for every last penny and compelling workers to work for poverty wages “sends the right message” and provides “the right incentives.”

Neoliberalism is austerity. 

Neoliberalism is the sanctimonious declaration that austerity is good for us.

Neoliberalism is alluring mantras and sales pitches about all that we need to embrace (privatization, liberalization, free trade, deregulation, tax relief, right-to-work,  the entrepreneurial spirit, the freedom to prosper, private enterprise, skin-in-the-game) and all that we need to fear (regulation, red tape, government over-reach, government bloat, taxation, unions, rapacious bureaucrats, welfare fraud, planning, and equality.)

Neoliberalism is soaring inequality.

Neoliberalism asserts - in op-eds, stump speeches and refereed economics journals - that you get what you “earn,” and you get what you deserve. 

Neoliberalism insists that the brutal, indifferent forces of capital accumulation (and its inevitable disruptions, dislocations and violences) are “natural” and inevitable.  Like gravity.

Neoliberalism says that it’s all for you – the consumer.  Lower prices!  Better jobs!  More choice! More stuff! More freedom!

Neoliberalism celebrates the abundance of opportunity.  Prosperity?  Poverty?  It’s up to you.  It’s your choice.

Neoliberalism is the neglect of the commons. Neoliberalism is the denial of the commons.  Neoliberalism is the insistence that protecting the commons is wasteful and inefficient.  Neoliberalism is the sale of the commons to the highest bidder.

Neoliberalism is a relentless and shameless assault on the commons: the planet, public health, community, public spaces, rich conversation, trust, love, history, clean air and clean water. 

Margaret Thatcher (who has been canonized by the Church of Neoliberalism) tells us that “There's no such thing as society.”  And, whatever your beef with neoliberalism, “There is no alternative.”  The laws of nature (the market) don’t care about your opinion.

Neoliberalism is George W. Bush’s assertion that there is “a single sustainable path to national success.”

There is but one god.   

Neoliberalism sees health care, education and retirement security as profit-centers.

Neoliberalism is the smug (and lethal) dismissal of the claims that water, food, housing, healthcare, employment, and personal safety are human rights. 

Neoliberalism is the relentless insistence that everything must “pay for itself.” 

Neoliberalism is the vilification of the Post Office, public schools and higher education.

Neoliberalism is the defunding of the Post Office, public schools and higher education. 

Neoliberalism is those who can pay are first in line. 

Neoliberalism is the privatization of prisons.

Neoiberalism can’t stop saying shit like: “greed is good,” “everything has a price,” “everyone has a price,” “you can’t outsmart the market,” “the market doesn’t lie,” “what’s in it for me?” and “I’m sitting on mine.”

Neoliberalism is color-blind.  That is, it doesn’t pay attention to race, racism, racial violence, or the enduring consequences of centuries of racial violence and plunder.  Neoliberalism rolls its eyes when race comes up. Neoliberalism doesn’t want to talk about history.

Neoliberalism doesn’t care about democracy. Neoliberalism cares about property rights and profits. 

Neoliberalism is luxury condos and enterprise zones. 

Neoliberalism is the commodification of everything – our communities, our time, our identities, our bodies… everything.

Neoliberalism sees every encounter as a market transaction.

Neoliberalism works people to death. 

Neoliberalism sends workers back into the meat-packing plants.

Neoliberalism doesn’t care about your grandchildren.

Neoliberalism doesn’t care if you have health insurance. 

Neoliberalism doesn’t care what’s in your drinking water.

Neoliberalism drives a nice car, and it promises each of us a nice car.   But it’s been killing us – physically, sociologically, psychologically and spiritually – for decades.

Neoliberalism is deadly.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
Tim Koechlin

Tim Koechlin

Tim Koechlin holds a PhD in economics. He is the Director of the International Studies Program at Vassar College, where he has an appointment in International Studies and Urban Studies. Professor Koechlin has taught and written about a variety of subjects including economic, political and racial inequality; globalization; macroeconomic policy, and urban political economy.

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