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Is the Left now ready for a counterattack in order to exterminate the neoliberal/far-right authoritarian beast?

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David Harvey speaks with Greg Wilpert and describes how neoliberalism neutralized the Left in the early 70s and why now there is a peculiar alliance between neoliberalism and right-wing authoritarianism.

As Harvey points out:

There's a curious alliance occurring between right-wing authoritarianism and neoliberalism, which is very very troubling.

When the neoliberal ethic was first being proposed, it was very much being proposed to the generation of 68 and saying to that generation, 'Look, you want individual liberty and freedom. OK, we'll give it to you in this neoliberal form, which is a very political, economic form, and you have to forget other issues, like social justice and the like.' So, it seeped its way into the discourse of much of the Left and this creates a sort of tolerance for some neoliberal practices.

Neoliberalism has a very clever way of turning things around and blaming the victim. And we saw that in the foreclosures of the housing and all this kind of stuff. Many people who were foreclosed upon, didn't blame the system. What they blamed was themselves.

When Clinton came in promising all kinds of benefits and gave us all these neoliberal reforms, at that point, people kind of said 'you know, this is not really working for me, and what's more, there's something going on here which is not right.'

The first revolt against the neoliberal order was Seattle, which was the anti-globalization movement and then all of the picketing of the IMF and G20's meetings. At that point, the ruling class has started to say 'well this could get out of hand, we need a government structure that's gonna sit on these people and do it really, really hard.'

So, when Occupy Wall Street came along, which was a fairly small and fairly innocent kind of movement, Wall Street got paranoid. And basically summoned the New York mayor at the time - who was the Wall Street character Bloomberg - to say 'squash these people.' And so, at this point, the perpetuation of the neoliberal order starts to become more and more guaranteed by state authoritarianism and neoconservatism. Which now, has morphed a little bit into this kind of right-wing populism.

So, in a sense the neoliberal order is being perpetuated by this authoritarian shift. And that should give the Left a good possibility to mount a counter-attack in certain parts of the world.



Indeed, in the early 70s, right after the 1968 movement and when neoliberalism starts to become the dominant ideology, the Left retreated and retired from the idea of a collective struggle.

As Adam Curtis describes in his film, HyperNormalisation:

          The extraordinary thing was that no one opposed the bankers. The radicals and the Left wingers who, ten years before, had dreamed of changing America through revolution, did nothing. They had retreated and were living in abandoned buildings in Manhattan. The singer Patti Smith later described the mood of disillusion that had come over them. "I could not identify with the political movements any longer," she said. "All the manic activity in the streets. In trying to join them, I felt overwhelmed by yet another form of bureaucracy." What she was describing was a rise of a new, powerful individualism that could not fit with the idea of collective political action. Instead, Patti Smith and many others became a new kind of individual radical, who watched the decaying city with a cool detachment. They didn't try to change it. They just experienced it.  

So, the critical question today is whether the time has come for the Left to revive and exterminate the neoliberal/far-right authoritarian beast.

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