Recognizing the disastrous history of totalitarian regimes, R. Reagan and M. Thatcher minimized the government and promoted free market, thinking they would give more liberty to the individual and prevent the rise of totalitarianism. But evidently, they had ‘forgotten’ about the existence of mega-corporations — that grew big enough to fill up the governments’ place/role, in which they systematically impose certain ideologies, and of course, exploit and oppress the Middle and Working classes. Their idea of individualism, of course had gone too far, at a point which one may think they had forgotten about the existence of common good and society — whose existence Thatcher and a few neoconservative thinkers and politicians had actually begun to deny.
If one thinks deeply, the concept of the neoliberal Free Market is quite nihilistic and indifferent in its nature. The idea of ethics, common good and culture doesn’t seem to bother it at all, a trait which can be easily understood. Free Marketism is this way for the simplest reason, its creed and motto, beginning and end, is and remains to be one thing:
P R O F I T.
“The customer is always right” – they say; isn’t this one of the most nihilistic claims ever made? Think about it. In practice, its only goal and motivation is profit, the market must offer everything the consumer asks for, regardless of ethics and values. Why? Because the neoliberal economics value is popularity, and if one dares to say, stupidity and vulgarity as well. We’re witnesses of it. Nowadays everything is on sale and nothing seems to have a real value. Regarding the treatment of culture, human rights, ecology, racism and migration we can see the best examples.
Culture and religion
Ever since the French Revolution, hostility towards the Christian creed in the West hasn’t really stopped. In fact, now it’s rising again with similar intensity, if not worse. They consider it regressive, harmful and even, at certain points, evil — the cause of most problems and “Christians” as part of the problem; just like in the past, it was attacked in the name of rationalism and nationalism; now in the name of ‘progress’. If not adapted to the current neoliberal trends, they’re considered as the contemporary and yesterday’s bigots and oppressors.
Western culture and orthodox Christianity as its basis are systematically demonized by several powerful media, NGOs and even educational institutions. As such, demonization and even desecration and attacks on churches are now accepted as common.
The Gibbonian historiography is still alive in people’s minds. In fact, it’s making a comeback. Of course, the selective historical truth of this narrative is twisted, but the truth is the last thing they care about. Prejudice towards other religions is unacceptable, yet for orthodox Christianity there are different rules. In the end, one comes to the conclusion that G.K. Chesterton made a long time ago, they call their hatred for Christianity love for all other religions.
The motive behind thist is that Christianity is the only thing still preventing them from demolishing ethical values – and after having them demolished completely, other religions won’t be spared either if they don’t accept the contemporary trends which are the neoliberal’s creed, those of anti-religious secularism, scientism, gender ideologies, emotionalism, hedonism, New Age and of course materialism.
Overall, the creed of the age has become the unquestionable standard and orthodoxy that everyone is expected to accept. Part of this cultural downfall is the devaluation of the Liberal Arts, caused by the market system which considers it “unpractical” and “useless”; and on the other hand, ‘accepting’ the new dogma uncritically.
Women’s rights & neoliberal capitalism
Corporations, ‘the great promoters of feminism and equal gender values’, punish or even fire their female employees for getting pregnant ‘without having it planned’. On the other hand, they successfully promote, sell and impose another ‘option’, which they even present as an attractive solution, a symbol of liberation from patriarchy and empowerment: infanticide, or as they call it, being ‘pro-choice’. Thus, they denigrate the role and value of motherhood and family by convincing their students/employees of the aforementioned ideas – and end up converting them, unconsciously, into worshippers, if not slaves, of the proverbial Moloch.
The same rule applies when it comes to the exploration/dehumanization of women and misogyny; prostitution and pornography they have converted into “sex work” and “a right” — just as long as there is profit out of it. All of this resembles the ‘ideal’ Pagan Patriarchy. In short, they will promote every woman’s right except the one which God, or as some prefer to say ‘Nature’, granted them and nobody should dare to deny: the dignity of motherhood. Therefore, women and the family in general, are at the stake.
Nature and ecology
It is undeniable that, at its best, partially, the current ecological situation is not good, and it has been a consequence of the neoliberal economics. Nature has been and keeps being exploited recklessly by mega-corporations — that are at the same time the main profiteers.
Thousands of forests and green areas have been demolished; the situation with the waters, especially with rivers is pretty much similar. Many rivers, from all around the World, have been cemented and polluted by governmental and private initiatives. The air has been polluted by various factories and other experimental weapon testing, and as a consequence, it’s not a surprise that it may have resulted in climate change.
Yet, many self-identified Conservatives, who seem to be loyal to the aforementioned economics, stripped off Christianity, deny the climate issue, and when it comes to the environment, they don’t seem to care much, because for them such cases are either “made up” or Left-wing activities. And if you ask me, the term ‘conservative’ for such thinkers/politicians becomes an oxymoron, because the very essence of conservatism is conserving the valuable institutions, ideas and things, among which the environment has a great importance. Because in the end, for Conservatives, at least for the traditional ones (like E. Burke, H. Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, R. Scruton, etc.), the reason for conserving the aforementioned things are not only for ourselves, but for future generations, for our descendants. On the other hand, there is a transcendental and theological argument and warning to take care of the environment, presented vocally by the Catholic Church since 1971 and continuing up today by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. The Church has interpreted the environment exploitation not only as self-destruction, but as a sin against God and his creation, as well!
The next example can be seen when it comes to race and racial issues. Mega-corporates are the first to show support for even the most irrational trends, including the neo-Marxist protests or racist campaigns in the past, for this simple reason: it’s popular, and they’re going to profit from it. So, in the past, racism was popular — they promoted it; now that, thank God, it is no longer acceptable, they will condemn it, but not because it’s wrong, but because it’s harmful to their business.
Yet, racism is now promoted in other forms. If yesterday it was said that ‘White people’ are ‘superior’, today they say pretty much the same, by calling it a privilege and taking once again the position of self-righteous ‘leader’ and ‘educator’ for the minorities. Giving lectures on how a certain ethnic group should think, vote and act.
As we have witnessed this summer, by supporting the riots, many corporations have succeeded to protect themselves, still many fail to see this, including our Left-Wing friends, who don’t realize that during the BLM ‘protests’, small business ended up being damaged, some of them even collapsed. In the meanitme, the very same ‘anti-racist’ corporations predominantly own factories in Third World countries, especially in Africa and Asia (including the Chinese ones), where workers are not only paid ridiculously little, but also suffer terrible conditions where they work. Similar things can be found even at Western European and Northern American factories, where the main workers are the minority.
Migration & humanism
The case for mass migration is a serious political and ethical issue and at the same time, quite controversial. It has to be said, tourists and not refugees have a favourite destination; everything a refugee wants is to find shelter, a safe place to stay. But that’s another topic which is not necessary to open here.
Many so-called Conservatives (who actually are economically speaking neoliberals) and the Social-Democrats have a similar approach, even though they have differences in managing it. Countries like Germany, led by a neoliberal party (CDU), have accepted millions of migrants in the name of noble humanism & multiculturalism — this of course hasn’t passed without outrageous reactions from the right and far-right — which are often considered to be the same thing. Meanwhile, the difference is crucial; the far-right is obsessed with race, which is very unlike the traditional Conservative concern: order and safety — that are undeniably realistic critiques.
Both political and social order are in danger when a country is faced with a massive refugee crisis; on the other hand, safety of both sides is at stake. After all, it’s utterly immoral to use unfortunate refugees in order to achieve political and economic goals. In the end, politicians who, ironically, happen to have caused the crisis, some directly by advocating interventionist and unrealistic political revolutions in the Middle East, and others indirectly by simply not opposing such ideas, are among the most vocal Social Justice Warriors and self-proclaimed humanists.
Of course, beyond the layer of ‘humanism’ one can see the main reason behind it: cheap and marginalized labour that will vitalize the government economically. All of this is done without caring about the consequences. The reality of the current ‘standards,’ can be classified as unaccepting and very hostile to those who do not agree with them. The non-Western minorities are faced with it, just like many conservatives, end up getting marginalized, but in different ways. Often leading to exiling into extremism – be it religious for the former, or political far-right for the latter.
The typical neoliberal goes further, by denying the consequences of their ‘failed’ social-engineering, by considering the unfortunate refugees as “uneducated” children and exploiting them as cheap labour. Against these abuses, it’s worth to mention Pope Benedict XVI and his African intellectual disciple, Cardinal Robert Sarah, who undoubtedly condemn racism and exploitation, and when it comes to mass migration say there is a right to not migrate as well, and rather embrace the duty to work to build and bring order and prosperity at one’s homeland. Pope Francis, on the other hand, has shown important concern on criticizing the dehumanization and abuse of migrants by both politicians and corporations.
A Catholic and conservative conclusion
We often hear some populist conservatives and generally more the far-right ones, blaming the chaotic situation on various insane conspiracies, and of course, the so-called “Cultural Marxism” whose real name is neoliberalism. We shouldn’t be scared to criticize it, it’s a grave mistake to think it’s a Marxist thing. For sure, there is a Marxist critique about it, but time has shown it to be, if not irrelevant, a dangerous, bloody and unwanted experiment – if totalitarianism can be called such.
In conclusion, the promoters and apologists of such ideologies, be it the old Marxists or the new neoliberals, they both tend to forget that rights, common sense, a realistic utopia, and wishful thinking are different things.
Late British philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton, recognized the issue of free-market/neoliberalism, and among it, stressed the need for a reasonable limit, on the contrary it will put sacred things at great risk. Among them, he listed the unborn, family, environment, and liberty, things which cannot be traded in the market, because they’re priceless! His critique seems to have been considered by the contemporary dominantly de-Christianised thought as ‘old-fashioned’, ‘unpopular’ and therefore ignored.
Regarding this, Pope Benedict XVI often has stated that what is destroying our civilization, society and even our souls, is the new form of totalitarianism, the dictatorship of relativism! And this ideology is alive and strong thanks to the economic neoliberal ideology, which knows no ethics, no limit, no border — and in the end, no sense.
The diagnosis that the two last Popes have given us is terrifying. For them, this is not only a sign of apostasy, but rather a consequence of it. A clear sign that the contemporary human, by forgetting his/her own creator, has forgotten the concept of sacredness and sin; humans seem to have forgotten their own nature, let alone their origin gifted by God. And as we can see, when stripped of it, human beings will take action that is fundamentally apocalyptic, but not in the classical sense, rather as slow self-destruction.
This type of analysis is badly needed. Well done.
Worth-reading article. I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to understand Neoliberalism. Excellent work Albert.
Overall a pretty good article, but I would say the heart of the matter is a lack of understanding of ideas, which is why the point you make about the Liberal Arts is probably the best of all. Parse this phrase carefully: the free market is the best way mankind has ever developed to distribute resources (as a whole) well, most of the time. That phrase is true, but it doesn’t say what “neoliberalism” seems to suggest it says. To say what neoliberalism says, one has to fail to define resource, blending it in to some romanticized or sentimentalized notion of “good”, “society”, “America” or “Everything”, and one has to fail to understand that “most of the time” is not “every time”. Even Economics understands that the problem of the value of money can confound the free market even in its specific and well-defined province.
I would say though that your paragraphs on environmentalism leave much to be desired, and comes off as a political concession or bloviating partisan agreement rather than true analysis. It is indeed so that conservatives can and should care about conserving the environment, and in fact, 180 years ago environmentalists were almost exclusively conservatives. However, the fundamental philosophy of conservative environmentalism is different. Leftist environmenatlism is a denial that man is made in the Image of God, and really a denial of stewardship, because it sees mans role in nature as at best an unavoidable tragedy, best mitigated by radical abstinence. It is the view, somewhat similar to Jainism (though they are both less hypocritical, actually living these values in an authentic and actionable way, and less extreme), that human life is in no sense superior to animal or plant life, and that therefore morality should be ecocentric, should center on the ecology as not an institution but an ultimate moral good. They also believe that not following such an ecocentric morality leads to an economy that is unsustainable, that is, that all resources will be depleted and destroyed. Both points are quite contradictory to biblical teachings – the first contradicts utterly the creation of man in Genesis, and the unique moral value and environmental role he fulfills, and the second flies in the face of Christ’s warning about darkening your mind with a lack of faith in God’s ability to provide [Matthew 6: 22-34]. Frankly, leftist environmentalism is little more than a hatred of mankind.
This is NOT the basis of conservative environmentalism, which is instead beauty-centered, focusing on the Romantic grandeur of the world, and humanistic, concerned not for the pocket book or some eventual environmental calamity, not cowering in fear at some rising sea levels (it’s fascinating how few people have heard of the Netherlands, apparently, or how Seattle raised the level of its streets in the late 1800’s…), but concerned for the human soul and what a world of “dark satanic mills” would do for it. The real problem is that the Left so totally dominates the conversation on the environment, and has so completely defined its terms and its meaning in a society unable to tolerate subtlety, nuance, detailed arguments or true understanding of ideas, that conservative environmentalism can’t get a word in edgewise and would be ignored by the vast willfully ignorant, impatient, barely literate, unwashed mass of American society if it even tried.
I agree with Mr. Fretheim; thanks for your insightful critique.
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