We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Trump's Cabinet, the Church of Neoliberal Evangelicals
I'm posting this as a prime illustration of liberal thinking (in the modern sense) which had its heyday in the 1930s under the Franklin Roosevelt administration to counter the threat of revolutionary ideas that were fueled by the successful Russian Revolution of 1917. Its roots were in President Wilson's administration, and its slow demise came after WWII when its philosophy was vigorously attacked by right-wing capitalists (fascists) during the McCarthy period as a reaction to liberalism as practiced by members of FDR's administration. This modern sense of liberalism had a brief resurrection under the Kennedy administration, but was soon extinguished with his (and his brother's) assassination by the ruling class's CIA.
This concept is to be distinguished from classical liberalism which included the core concept of private ownership of the new economy that was arising in Europe in the 17th & 18th century characterized by the harnessing of various forms of power (water, coal, petroleum) with machines operated by workers. A new class that came to be known as capitalists wanted the same exclusive control over these new productive units that feudal authorities had over agriculturally based landed economies.
Originally the words relating to liberalism were influenced by the need of the new class of capitalists to attract peasants and other workers in their struggle to take power away from feudal authorities consisting of monarchs, aristocracies, and the Catholic church which was the ideological ally of the feudal authorities. Hence the new capitalist ruling classes always publicly presented classic liberalism, which included private ownership of the economy, as promoting various freedoms such as speech, association, vague notions of equality, and promoted notions of a social contract (under capitalist governing structures called states) which promised peasants and workers that the new capitalist class rule would insure their welfare. Their ideas appealed to many because they promised that one could achieve prosperity based on one's merits and hard work, and not on connections or social rank as had been the case under feudalism. As you can see, these deceptions worked to bring this tiny class of "owners" to the overwhelming power and wealth that they enjoy today.
Since the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few people during the latter half of the 19th century known as the Gilded Age (in the US), capitalist ideological authorities started dropping notions of private economic property from public discourse in order to prevent any notions among the hoi polloi that other systems existed, most especially systems without their class rule which was based on ownership of economic property.
Hence the success of the Russian Revolution profoundly threatened the capitalist classes, and they mobilized every weapon they could to crush the Soviet Union. This viscerally hostile reaction by leading capitalist classes to the Soviet revolution colored so much of the history of the 20th century. Early on around 13 capitalist nations invaded Russia immediately following the revolution and many of these nations also funded the White armies that were in opposition to the new Soviet government. During the 1930s capitalist ruling classes in Europe and North America heavily backed the rise of the Nazi party in Germany (see this, this, this, and this) with the idea in mind of Germany attacking the Soviet government (Hitler had written this in Mein Kampf). These ruling classes insured that their countries remained "neutral" while the fascist governments of Germany and Italy destroyed the republican government of Spain. Here in the US the FDR administration pursued liberal policies (in the modern sense) in order to counter radical ideas that began taking hold in the US during the Great Depression when 25% of Americans were unemployed amidst full employment in the Soviet Union.
Neoliberalism is an ideology whose exponents want to do away with the rest of the propaganda baggage of the original classic liberalism by eliminating the costly programs of the "social contract" in addition to weakening constitutional protections of civil liberties (as they have already done under the Patriot Act), and strictly promote the narrow interests of major economic property owners (capitalists) throughout the globe by eliminating border restrictions on commerce.
This introduction was necessary to explain Giroux's liberal views regarding political forces today. Notice that he makes no reference to capitalism. Such liberal views represent the last gasp of contemporary liberals who still cling to notions of a kinder, gentler form of capitalism which he, along with other liberals, refers to as "democracy". This is because he as been so completely indoctrinated in capitalist ideology by having spent many years in academia to the extent that the subject of capitalism can no longer even be questioned. The sooner this view dies, and the ascendance of revolutionary ideas of bottom-up authority structures and public ownership/control of the economy, the better for the survival of humans.