Some blunt, though peer-reviewed messages
June 4, 2018 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Fuck Neoliberalism. [pdf] Abstract: Yep, fuck it. Neoliberalism sucks. We don’t need it. Keywords: fuck neoliberalism; fuck it to hell.

And fuck nuance. Which is also previously.

In related news, a proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder. [pdf]

In case you have nothing to say about the above, don't worry.

And if you were inspired by all this science, you too can make it in the academic world!
posted by Pyrogenesis (110 comments total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yes, this will fix things.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:45 PM on June 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Hahaha, that first link is awesome. Impressed as well that it comes from my alma mater of UVic!
posted by JamesBay at 2:49 PM on June 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


I mean, Acme Journal's brand is pretty much saying "fuck neoliberalism" in 70 different flavors, which is very in line with the thinking of many strands of critical geography, and I'm 100% here for it. It's nice to have something in The Literature I can cite when I say the same thing in more "diplomatic" words.

Acme Journal runs some great articles, especially for those of us wearily trying to bail the water out of the sinking USS Public Higher Ed. One of my favorites is the collectively-authored For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University.
posted by mostly vowels at 2:50 PM on June 4, 2018 [8 favorites]


Also in the vein of critical geographers yelling FUCK there's Fuck Jared Diamond. Sadly no open access version, it's always struck me as very silly that a journal titled Capitalism Nature Socialism is paywalled (due to it's arrangement with one of the big publishers). I wrote the editor once and the response was basically "sorry, we wish it were better."
posted by mostly vowels at 2:54 PM on June 4, 2018 [12 favorites]


In the spirit of the thread, Fuck Jared Diamond, free for all.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:00 PM on June 4, 2018 [15 favorites]


Oh. I want to now give Correia's "Fuck Jared Diamond" at a Conference. But that would be Wrong.
posted by allthinky at 3:15 PM on June 4, 2018


And fuck gender!
posted by Morpeth at 3:20 PM on June 4, 2018


Fuck ostriches!
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:21 PM on June 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've been collecting various bluntly-titled papers, syllabi, etc.

Some others:

Fuck Nuance
Calling Bullshit
Fuck Content
Avoid News
posted by waninggibbon at 3:56 PM on June 4, 2018


I feel like Fuck Jared Diamond accuses him of saying things he doesn't actually say but I am no critical geographer.
posted by GuyZero at 3:59 PM on June 4, 2018 [6 favorites]


are we supposed to engage with the content or just enjoy the cusses
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:01 PM on June 4, 2018 [15 favorites]


In the spirit of the thread, Fuck Jared Diamond, free for all.

Dunno, this seems to me to to be the worst kind of scholarship-as-activism. Its basically arguing that anyone who argues that environmental factors are important for understanding contemporary development levels is an apologist for colonialism.

It says that Sachs argues "The redistribution of wealth will not resolve the global inequality. Why not? Because the geographical and unequal distribution of affluence and poverty is not a result of unequal power relations but rather is a function of complex geographic and climatic dynamics that has nothing whatsoever to do with histories of colonial conquest and capitalist expansion."

Sachs of course doesn't argue this. Of course, people who actually study the colonial state empirically know that geographic factors were important in understanding variation in areas that the colonial state invested in. The point here is that there is no tension between arguing that environmental factors matter and colonialism matters for contemporary outcomes. Unless of course you judge whether a description of the world is accurate based entirely on its normative content.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:09 PM on June 4, 2018 [15 favorites]


I feel like Fuck Jared Diamond accuses him of saying things he doesn't actually say but I am no critical geographer.

You're not wrong but that conversation is going to go nowhere good.
posted by klanawa at 4:10 PM on June 4, 2018 [7 favorites]


are we supposed to engage with the content or just enjoy the cusses

You wanna say "fuck engaging with the content" hey it's your keyboard.
posted by GuyZero at 4:14 PM on June 4, 2018 [8 favorites]


Dunno, this seems to me to to be the worst kind of scholarship-as-activism.

It's an editorial.
posted by mostly vowels at 4:20 PM on June 4, 2018


To the extent that an anarchist can be a serious academic, Simon is a serious academic. This may not be his most... serious work. It might be his most useful work, tho. :p
posted by klanawa at 4:29 PM on June 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


In a journal, by a scholar, on a topic of that he journal publishes. Don’t kid yourself that this journal would be much much less likely to publish a piece showing that geographic factors mattered for contemporary development.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 4:30 PM on June 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also I'm really not sure if I'm all for fucking neoliberalism because every time I try to understand it it just seems to turn into a bag that's holding shit the writer doesn't like. To some extent telling neoliberalism to fuck itself is axiomatic as the definition of neoliberalism is shit that needs to get fucked.
posted by GuyZero at 5:31 PM on June 4, 2018 [26 favorites]


I just got a degree in anthropology, so I feel like I've earned this: fuck Jared Diamond. Also fuck Roy Rappaport, while we're at it.

Academia, here I come!
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:48 PM on June 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also I'm really not sure if I'm all for fucking neoliberalism because every time I try to understand it it just seems to turn into a bag that's holding shit the writer doesn't like.

People say this a lot on MetaFilter, but Neoliberalism is a useful concept that has a fixed, concrete meaning. Neoliberalism is an ideology that is hard to pin down because part of the ideology of Neoliberalism is that Neoliberalism doesn't exist -- it's just "common sense", it's just the way the world works. So when you say things like this, whether you intend to or not, you're actually serving the Neoliberal ideology.

As far as what the word is really useful for, I thought this recent Current Affairs article expressed it very well using the example of the way our society talks about education:

Neoliberalism, then, is the best existing term we have to capture the almost universal convergence around a particular set of values. We don’t have debates over whether the point of teaching is to enrich the student’s mind or prepare the student for employment, we have debates over how to prepare students for employment. Economic values become the water we swim in, and we don’t even notice them worming their way into our brains. The word is valuable insofar as it draws our attention to the ideological frameworks within which debates occur, and where the outer boundaries of those debates lie. The fact that everyone seems to agree that the purpose of education is “job skills,” rather than say, “the flourishing of the human mind,” shows the triumph of a certain new kind of liberalism, for which I can only think of one word.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 7:16 PM on June 4, 2018 [38 favorites]


MetaFilter: You're not wrong but that conversation is going to go nowhere good.
posted by uosuaq at 7:51 PM on June 4, 2018 [22 favorites]


The problem is someone will reply by writing "Fuck Fuck Neoliberalism" and then "Fuck Fuck Fuck Neoliberalism" and then it will eventually end up like the subject of one of those emails from your grandparents with 100+ "Fuck"s instead of "fwd:".
posted by FJT at 8:15 PM on June 4, 2018 [7 favorites]


Bartfast, S. (2018) Fuck The Free Market Profit-Driven Health Care Industry, NEJM

It’s the article I’ve been waiting my whole life to write.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:16 PM on June 4, 2018 [19 favorites]


I'm an urban planning PhD student and I've taken geography classes, have several geographer friends and even dated a geography person.

But lol this is such a geographer thing to do.
posted by mcmile at 8:16 PM on June 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


Slarty Bartfast, that is the article I have been waiting my whole life to read. Or contribute to. I may lose my mind if I have to listen to one more MBA talk to me about value add in healthcare.
posted by Hopeful and Cynical at 8:26 PM on June 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Well, that was about as mature and reasoned as I'd expect somebody of that political stripe to be.
posted by phenylphenol at 8:30 PM on June 4, 2018


I feel like Fuck Jared Diamond accuses him of saying things he doesn't actually say

Fuck nuance.

Am I doing this right?
posted by flabdablet at 8:50 PM on June 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


a proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder

So bookmarked.
posted by flabdablet at 8:51 PM on June 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


In related news, a proposal to classify happiness as a psychiatric disorder.
As you may have seen quoted in Roth's Sabbath's Theater.
posted by kickingtheground at 11:11 PM on June 4, 2018


I love that first link. And I love that he credits a colleague of mine for the title.
posted by lollusc at 1:24 AM on June 5, 2018


If there was a field guide to environmental determinists in the wild, it would not picture the domesticated Diamond, but rather Sachs, holding a copy of Guns, Germs and Steel in one hand and embracing U2’s Bono with the other.

I would like to apply for a PhD from this institution
posted by overeducated_alligator at 4:10 AM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also I'm really not sure if I'm all for fucking neoliberalism because every time I try to understand it it just seems to turn into a bag that's holding shit the writer doesn't like.

I found George Monbiot's "Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems" to be helpful.
posted by entropone at 5:13 AM on June 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


I just got a degree in anthropology, so I feel like I've earned this: fuck Jared Diamond

I was assigned Guns, Germs and Steel by a professor in anthropology, while taking a course on agrarian issues by four experts in agrarian societies, environmental history and power relations.

And as someone with a degree in environmental history, I found it to have a really useful summary of a lot of research, and to present a useful frame for thinking about certain issues in development and colonialism. It doesn't really explain power differences between Europe and Asia c1850, but it's quite useful for understanding why, for example, the Americas had far less communicable diseases to share than the Eurasian colonialists.

It shouldn't be taken as a Bible - and certainly, as a synthesis of lots of research, it will get little things wrong. But the purpose of the book wasn't to explain everything ever, but rather how geography affected relative development, and point out that Europeans were the beneficiaries of 3 continents worth of developments (microbiological as well as technological), rather than "just better" (which was the mainstream view previously - and still is the view promoted by true academic conmen like Niall Ferguson).
posted by jb at 5:34 AM on June 5, 2018 [7 favorites]


Also: how many people are aware that John & William McNeill published a very similar book to GGS, called The Human Web? But their thesis, while heavily overlapping with Diamond's, wasn't as well supported or articulated, and it's GGS that people continue to argue with.

Point is: GGS hasn't been just a popular success. It's a good - imperfect but good - academic book.

No idea what his later books are like, so won't comment.
posted by jb at 5:39 AM on June 5, 2018


I found George Monbiot's "Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems" to be helpful.
I just read that because I also find definitions of 'neoliberalism' to be vague and this rant funny due to the curses in an educational format but generally unhelpful.

So Monbiot: "Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning."
and my question is why did we need to invent a new, opaque word for 'capitalism': (straight from google)
"an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state." The goals of the state are unspecified in that definition, but we have to assume they are generally the opposite. Otherwise, it doesn't really make that much difference.

My point being that I am still very confused.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:47 AM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


Neoliberalism is basically just capitalism dressed up a bit to appeal more to the people it preys upon, yes.
posted by Artw at 6:52 AM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Capitalism is a (brutal, exploitative) economic system, while Neoliberalism is an ideology that is propagated to prop up capitalism, rendering it acceptable by portraying it as the only rational economic system and the natural consequence of human nature.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 7:03 AM on June 5, 2018 [13 favorites]


That's fine, I get that and understand the distinction so thank you for that. I still get the feeling that adding the layer and attacking that seems like getting all pissy at the cheerleaders for the negatives of football.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:20 AM on June 5, 2018


I was assigned Guns, Germs and Steel by a professor in anthropology, while taking a course on agrarian issues by four experts in agrarian societies, environmental history and power relations.

Um, well, you put me in the position where any response I give is going to be arguing against the authority of people who are much more qualified than me. I can only really speak for myself, but I do know that in general there are major disagreements over how significant those "little" errors in the book are (some of which are probably fundamental disagreements between fields, or even subfields, or even individual institutions).

The biggest issue for me is that he's got a fundamentally deterministic view of history. He presents a world where you could roll back time, replace everyone on every continent, and history would roughly unfold the same way. There's no agency there, no room for the decisions that people and cultures make based on interests, beliefs, turn-ons/offs. It's a world where people do stuff almost mechanistically, rather than a world where people very often do unexpected or illogical stuff because people are idiosyncratic and weird. This was why I included Rappaport in my post-graduation bird-flip, because Rappaport does the same thing, and because both he and Diamond came up with their ideas in Papua New Guinea (I may even be more frustrated with Rappaport, because he was required reading).

It's always such a pat explanation: oh, you see, this tribe eats salted pig fat the night before a battle because it gives them extra energy to fight (as if we eat birthday cake so we have the energy to party, not because it tastes good but is too expensive to eat all the time). Oh, this tribe invaded this land because they had reached their ecological limit (as if people have never gone to war over stuff like ideology).

Oh, North America was colonized thanks to disease and guns and stuff, and not because people tended to get a foothold in situations where the was already intense factionalism (like on the densely populated West Coast where nearby villages might have no affinity for each other whatsoever, or in South America where there was major political instability).

The way he talks about technology treats it as a linear progression, where guns always beat bows and arrows, and technological progress is a measurable thing. It's frustrating because it makes it much harder to talk about certain histories (it always becomes "wow, and just think, 170 men were able to conquer a whole empire thanks to their guns!" which is its own kind of European exceptionalism).

It's not that environment, disease, etc. are irrelevant, it's just that GGS presents a worldview that's very much at odds with a lot of anthropology. Other people have done a much better job of criticizing him than I just have, but the point of it generally boils down to the fact that he overlooks or downplays some pretty significant social and cultural stuff. I mean, pretty much everything I've studied has focused on the stuff he omitted, so of course I'll be salty about it.

I mean, Niall Ferguson is terrible, and given the choice, yeah, I'd pick Diamond over him. But there's a lot more choices out there and, uh, I guess the tl;dr is that I think Diamond is pretty dang problematic.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:32 AM on June 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


As a model it’s very Civ like. The general principles make a kind of sense but the neatness makes me a little suspicious of the specifics.
posted by Artw at 7:35 AM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Phiip Mirowski has expounded on what Neoliberalism is in books, talks and articles, and his "Neoliberalism: The Movement That Dare Not Speak Its Name" is an interesting summary of his view on the subject, higlighting the ways in which it differs from plain old vanilla liberalism, neo-classical economics and conservatism while being a champion of a strong state despite its occasional rhetoric.
posted by talos at 7:44 AM on June 5, 2018


Actually, “fuck” is being used in very precise technical sense.
posted by mondo dentro at 7:46 AM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


the ideology of Neoliberalism is that Neoliberalism doesn't exist -- it's just "common sense", it's just the way the world works. So when you say things like this, whether you intend to or not, you're actually serving the Neoliberal ideology.

yeah, this is part of my problem/complaint - neoliberalism is something that the other person is doing. No one (afaik) claims to be a neoliberal. Which doesn't mean that the word can't have a definition, but it's hard to define the boundary of a group that no one claims to be a member of. And there's no perfect neoliberal, at least in the US or Canada. There are plenty of free-market capitalists who are for regulation of certain sectors or who believe in state-funded education. No true scotsman I guess. And what exactly is opposition to neoliberalism? That you don't want any markets anywhere? Or that you just don't want everything to be a competitive market?

So fuck neoliberalsm as it's so close to being a useful concept and yet so far from really being one.

The biggest issue for me is that he's got a fundamentally deterministic view of history.

It was inevitable that someone would raise this objection. It's irrelevant that it was you. Thanks for being a functional cog in the gearworks of history.
posted by GuyZero at 8:11 AM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


No one (afaik) claims to be a neoliberal


Reddit.com/r/neoliberal
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:22 AM on June 5, 2018


The /r/neoliberal platform is less of a horror show than the neoliberalism many of you are describing in this thread:
We do not all subscribe to a single comprehensive philosophy but instead find common ground in shared sentiments and approaches to public policy

* Individual choice and markets are of paramount importance both as an expression of individual liberty and driving force of economic prosperity
* The state serves an important role in establishing conditions favorable to competition through preventing monopoly, providing a stable monetary framework, and relieving acute misery and distress
* Free exchange and movement between countries makes us richer and has lead to an unparalleled decline in global poverty
* Public policy has global ramifications and should take into account the effect it has on people around the world regardless of nationality

Policies we support include but are not limited to:

* Free trade
* Reduced barriers to migration
* Occupational licensing reform
* Zoning reform
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 8:52 AM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


Eh. Jared Diamond presents a continuation of a useful model to keep in one's toolbox. He wasn't the first nor is he the most recent to propose materialistic models. Maybe it's because my anthropology undergrad program pushed Marvin Harris big time but Diamond seems tame in comparison. In many ways it's compatible with Marxist theory. Mefites should love it. Would you prefer an idealism like Fergusson espouses?

People hate on this stuff but those models help with things like public health in developing countries. Maybe it doesn't pass the purity test, but good people are using similar theories to make the world a better place.

I remember reading an FPP about a year back bemoaning social determinants of health theories that examined the causes of of noncommunicable diseases. At that point I don't know what to tell you. Something causes stuff to happen and we can't blame literally everything on colonialism.
posted by Telf at 9:00 AM on June 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


You gotta distinguish between what they say and what they mean by it, and identify the parts they just say because it sounds good. For example:

* Individual choice and markets are of paramount importance both as an expression of individual liberty and driving force of economic prosperity

means that markets are more important than anything else, such as the policy preferences of the public, democracy, rights, morals. Neoliberalism admits of no restraints; markets are not only good, they're the only thing that can be good.

* The state serves an important role in establishing conditions favorable to competition through preventing monopoly, providing a stable monetary framework, and relieving acute misery and distress

means that the state exists to serve the markets, to create the conditions in which markets can thrive and dominate all aspects of life. The "preventing monopoly" phrase is something they don't mean (there's been what, one significant monopoly prosecution in the last 35 years?), and the "reliving acute misery and distress" is something they like to talk about but not actually do.

* Free exchange and movement between countries makes us richer and has lead to an unparalleled decline in global poverty

pretty much just means no tariffs and no restraints on the motion of capital. Neoliberal governments have not, in fact, served to limit the power of borders when it comes to human beings coming and going.

* Public policy has global ramifications and should take into account the effect it has on people around the world regardless of nationality

is just the good old "everybody's laws should serve the end of the international bourgeoisie, regardless of their impact on the local working class".

As always, powerful people will never be honest with you about what they want. You have to learn what their rhetoric actually means, and how much of it is nothing but empty words.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:02 AM on June 5, 2018 [16 favorites]


The biggest issue for me is that he's got a fundamentally deterministic view of history.

I think Guns, Germs, and Steel is useful though specifically because it presents a deterministic view. I think the pop view of history is always some variation of "The Great Man Theory" and GGS completely pushes against that. I know folks will point to how academia has long moved beyond GMT, but GGS helped bring a non-GMT viewpoint of history into the mainstream.
posted by FJT at 9:05 AM on June 5, 2018 [11 favorites]


You have to learn what their rhetoric actually means

this is really patronizing. on the other hand, we're doing an exegesis of a reddit sidebar now to prove that neoliberals really exist and are bad, so, shrug emoji?
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:13 AM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


Liberalism is a term, I've never been educated in but I can tell from interactions it's something I am not a fan of in general. Right now seems like it'd be the time to look it up, but fuck it, I'm pretty sure it just sucks anyway and also probably ain't shit I can do about it.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:20 AM on June 5, 2018


Oof, I looked it up anyway and "Fuck Neoliberalism" is more poignant than I knew.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:36 AM on June 5, 2018


Liberalism is generally Lockes “life, liberty and property”, slight emphasis on the property, and the defense of that from impositions by the monarchy or state. Neoliberalism is that plus the magic of markets and “Oh Whoops, we ate the state”.
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on June 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


The biggest issue for me is that he's got a fundamentally deterministic view of history. He presents a world where you could roll back time, replace everyone on every continent, and history would roughly unfold the same way. There's no agency there, no room for the decisions that people and cultures make based on interests, beliefs, turn-ons/offs.

I think that's a bit of an uncharitable way to read the book - and also, you need to put GGS into the context of popular world history that he was writing in. It was either, as noted above, "Great Man History" or (more perniciously) racial-determinism history. It was this latter that Diamond was explicitly arguing against: he was arguing that the Americans weren't conquered by Europeans because - as had been claimed by Europeans - Europeans were inherently smarter/better/stronger, but because Europeans a) benefited from the technological developments of the whole of the Old World, and b) were super-diseased.

GGS doesn't explain - or seek to explain - why Europeans were sailing off looking for China, and not the other way around - or how colonialism and industrialization has changed global trade and power and everything. It really just wanted to show that less technologically advanced cultures are not less technologically advanced because of racial inferiority - and also that, frankly, European advantages in the New World has as much, if not more, to do with their microbiological parasites than their technology. (I would also note that technology does matter when it comes to warfare - but GGS's point is that Europeans weren't especially gifted, but that technological benefits from more people and more diversity, which the Old World had more of than the New World).

Sorry - it's just that the environment, colonialism and development were a specialty area of mine in grad school - and I wouldn't claim that GGS is the end all and be all. But I think it's a good introduction to move people out of popular ways of viewing world history and into thinking about the environment as being as significant as culture and politics - not that those other things don't matter. But in a pre-modern world where 80-90% of people lived a life entirely dependent on their local resources, it really, really mattered.

And, like I said, I haven't read any of his more recent books (not relevant to my work) - maybe they are flimflam.
posted by jb at 10:36 AM on June 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


IIRC the big thesis Collapse is that civilizations rely on supply chains and when those are interrupted they are prone to sudden collapse, which doesn’t seem too tenditious, though I’m sure it’s possible he over simplified or used bad examples.
posted by Artw at 10:46 AM on June 5, 2018


This thread may be the beanplatiest beanplate ever beanplated.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 12:04 PM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


this is really patronizing. on the other hand, we're doing an exegesis of a reddit sidebar now to prove that neoliberals really exist and are bad, so, shrug emoji?

I'm not trying to "prove" anything. This bizarre anti-intellectual nonsense, like the Mont Pelerin Society never existed, like "neoliberal" is a word made up by people you don't like, doesn't seem to come up around other ideologies despite neoliberalism being the dominant ideology of the wealthy West for nearly forty years. We're fish and you can believe in the water if you want to.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:07 PM on June 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


Lots of people I like use the word "neoliberal!" Most of them are right here on MetaFilter, in fact. I still like them despite the fact that the way they use the word imports it with no real meaning other than "this person has political opinions that, while entirely mainstream, I find objectionable."
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:10 PM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


"this person has political opinions that, while entirely mainstream, I find objectionable."

Yes, exactly, 'neoliberal' is in fact the name given to a cluster of mainstream political opinions.
posted by Pyry at 12:41 PM on June 5, 2018 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter is an essentially bourgeois, technocratic, liberal community, so every time someone tries to meaningfully critique power structures around here, someone always has to come in and be really obtuse about it.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:55 PM on June 5, 2018 [9 favorites]


The biggest issue for me is that he's got a fundamentally deterministic view of history.

It was a long time ago now that I read it, but I've always thought that the book's critics would do well to consider the distinction between necessity and sufficiency. The fundamental axis around which it revolves is the availability of opportunities for development. If there were no domesticable animals in North America, the people could not domesticate animals. The instant domesticable animals appeared, they domesticated them. What I got from the book is that human potential is universal but the opportunities to use it are not. That's not determinism. But whatever, it's a pointless fight.
posted by klanawa at 12:58 PM on June 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


Again it feels a *little* too neat and tidy and like a Civ tech tree in that regard.
posted by Artw at 1:29 PM on June 5, 2018


I don't think anyone using the term neoliberal can be described as "meaningfully" critiquing power structures.
posted by Bobicus at 1:33 PM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


The wise man said "I do not understand that word you are using. Therefore, it is meaningless," and nodded sagely.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 1:46 PM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


The wise man said "I do not understand that word you are using. Therefore, it is meaningless," and nodded sagely.

The stupid man said "I don't understand what the word 'architecture' means, but I heard that somebody said writing about music is like dancing about architecture so I assume it means some kind of dance." So he put on a record an architectured all night long.
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:01 PM on June 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


The wise man said "I do not understand that word you are using. Therefore, it is meaningless," and nodded sagely.

There are people in the world who do not understand what words mean.

There are people in the world who use words in a sloppy way that renders them meaningless.

Both these things are true, sometimes for a single word.

My beef, such as it is, is that people use "neoliberal" like Sean Hannity uses "liberal" which is to say, in a way that renders the word meaningless.

If "neoliberal" just means "someone who thinks markets are the most economically efficient form of organization" then sure, I guess it means something. A lot of times it seems like that's not what people mean when they use it.
posted by GuyZero at 2:08 PM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


I mean, yeah, people do misuse the word "neoliberal" occasionally in the same way that people misuse every word under the sun. But this post is about an academic paper addressing the academic concept of neoliberalism, so all the talk about people misusing the word read as concern trolling to me.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 2:15 PM on June 5, 2018


But this post is about an academic paper addressing the academic concept of neoliberalism

From TFA: By all means let’s advance a new radical political
slogan. Use a hashtag (#fuckneoliberalism) and make our contempt go viral! But
we have to do more than express our indignation. We have to enact our resolve and
realize our hope as the immanence of our embodied experiences in the here and
now (Springer 2016a). We need to remake the world ourselves, a process that
cannot be postponed.


The author is an academic, this is a paper, I'm not 100% sure this is an academic paper. Which is really not a problem, it can be whatever it is.
posted by GuyZero at 2:35 PM on June 5, 2018


Suspect the actual problem is with people using it and people knowing what it means but not liking that it applies to stuff they feel defensive about, like, say, the bulk of Democratic Party policy.
posted by Artw at 2:46 PM on June 5, 2018 [10 favorites]


Suspect the actual problem is with people using it and people knowing what it means but not liking that it applies to stuff they feel defensive about, like, say, the bulk of Democratic Party policy.

Honestly I'll cop to that. Plus markets are fine for lots of stuff. They're terrible for lots of stuff. People with blanket anti-market positions seem like they're using big words instead of just wearing a beret and waving an AK-47 like in the old days.
posted by GuyZero at 2:57 PM on June 5, 2018


Next time just be honest about it and save us all this back and forth, will ya?
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 3:05 PM on June 5, 2018


yep, folks get defensive about epithets that are used as a shorthand way to dismiss people as ideologically compromised and not worthy of consideration. in-group signaling doesn't fly very well outside the in-group.

however the word originated, I can't see much use for it these days outside of lefty circular firing squads.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:05 PM on June 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


Except it’s an actual real descriptive term with an actual real meaning. You guy guys are in “TERF is a slur” frothmouth territory I’m afraid.
posted by Artw at 3:13 PM on June 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


Everyone's always trying to drive us socialists out of the politics megathreads, let us talk about neoliberalism in our little separate threads in peace, god.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 3:14 PM on June 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


I legitimately want to know who people are arguing against but every time I dig into "neoliberal" I don't manage to find anything with a consistent description or a person who describes themselves as a neoliberal.

I mean, there are people who seriously describe themselves as Nazis and there was an actual 1930's political party, so it's not like "nazi" is made-up name calling. Socialists, communists, capitalists, etc - somebody is owning all of those. I have yet to find the person who owns "neoliberal" although it had not occurred to me before this thread to check Reddit, so I suppose I have my answer there finally.

You guy guys are in “TERF is a slur” frothmouth territory I’m afraid.

OK well I'm not denying anyone's existence or basic humanity, sheesh. That's getting a little namecally.
posted by GuyZero at 3:16 PM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


well we could have had the mirror image version of this conversation with the brocialist thread but it got deleted, so you're stuck here with us, I guess?
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:17 PM on June 5, 2018


I thought neoliberalism gets criticized all the time on Metafilter.
posted by FJT at 3:18 PM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Neoliberalism" is not an in-group, out-group epithet kind of thing, and it's also not an identity that people generally ascribe to themselves. Y'all are (willfully, apparently) misunderstanding this. "Neoliberal" is descriptive, not prescriptive. Nobody is writing neoliberal manifestos. The term is used by academia and the left to refer to a specific cluster of ideological premises used by the ruling class to justify political initiatives that concentrate their power by ceding public assets to private interests.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 3:20 PM on June 5, 2018 [12 favorites]


OK well I'm not denying anyone's existence or basic humanity, sheesh. That's getting a little namecally.

Yeah, apologies. You are however trying to shut down conversation through deliberately misrepresenting the terms used, a characteristic of that group.
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nobody is writing neoliberal manifestos.

no, actually, they are! I just googled Mont Pelerin Society earlier today because of this dumb thread! but refutations of think-tank product are not where we most frequently encounter the term "neoliberal," we mostly just hear it used as an

in-group, out-group epithet kind of thing

as you put it.
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:28 PM on June 5, 2018


You are however trying to shut down conversation through deliberately misrepresenting the terms used, a characteristic of that group.

No, I'm legitimately not understanding stuff and perhaps that makes me dumb, but but I'm really not trying to misrepresent terms. I get the comparison and it's helpful in that I now get that no one has "head TERF" on their business cards and that there can be a useful group definition even if no one claims to be a member of that group.

Please, I know trolling and if I was trolling I'd do a better job than this. Or find a more worthwhile topic. jfc, what could be more tedious than trolling metafilter about neoliberalism.

Nobody is writing neoliberal manifestos.

no, actually, they are!


See? It's just old-fashioned ignorance. I'm sure I'll wish I had it back after reading a neoliberal manifesto.
posted by GuyZero at 3:30 PM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


we mostly just hear it used as an in-group, out-group epithet kind of thing

You might hear it that way, but that's not what the word is typically used for. If you must know, when leftists are talking to each other, the trendy way to disdainfully refer to liberals is to call them liberals.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 3:32 PM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


the trendy way to disdainfully refer to liberals is to call them liberals.

That's redundant, because all leftists disdain liberals.
posted by FJT at 3:33 PM on June 5, 2018


To expand on my previous comment, leftists use "liberals" not in the psychotic republican way, but because the (classically defined and still relevant) liberal philosophy is anathema to a socialist worldview.

You gotta understand, most people who identify as socialists have very well-thought-out reasons for doing so. There's thought and feeling and content here, we're not just a bunch of name-calling rubes.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 3:34 PM on June 5, 2018 [5 favorites]


Jesus, this thread got hostile over the course of a day.

Anyway, I fully recognize that people see value in GGS, I’m just laying out what my specific objections are, and where I’m coming from with them. Like I said, a lot of where I’m coming from might boil down to ideological leanings of anthropology vs geography, or where I was educated (and even within my department there are disagreements about this kind of thing — the bio anth people treat some things really differently than the archaeologists). I get why people defend it as popular history, and I’m glad there’s a popular counterpoint to a really awful model of history, but that doesn’t mean it’s beyond criticism. Framing my specific objections as “oh, it doesn’t pass the purity test” is just bad faith.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:33 PM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


And again, my objection isn’t that environment isn’t or can’t be a significant factor in history, it’s just that Diamond downplays a lot of other factors that may be more significant (and by their omission, he downplays human agency in the process). I studied historical anthropology, so of course questions of agency are going to be very important to me. I’m not trying to tear this down thoughtlessly, I’m just trying to push back against something that clashes with the anthropological theory I’m familiar with (maybe because my department was big on Sherry Ortner and Donna Haraway).
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:42 PM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


A Neo-Liberal's Manifesto

1982. Hates the name, but boy are some of the talking points familiar...

f neo-conservatives are liberals who took a critical look at liberalism and decided to become conservatives, we are liberals who took the same look and decided to retain our goals but to abandon some of our prejudices. We still believe in liberty and justice and a fair chance for all, in mercy for the afflicted and help for the down and out. But we no longer automatically favor unions and big government or oppose the military and big business. Indeed, in our search for solutions that work, we have come to distrust all automatic responses, liberal or conservative.

(They might be... *gasp* centrists, another word that does not exist)

Stock instead of unions, encouraging entrepreneurs while regulating just a little (no Pintos!), heavy emphasis on market, cut government as sloppy but not as much as "conservatives", make schools better but also punish teachers...

It should all be pretty familiar to anyone who's listened to an American or British mainstream politician in the last 40 years.

(There's mention of a draft, but modern neo-liberals know there'll always be enough poor people not to need one.)
posted by Artw at 5:00 PM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


But lol this is such a geographer thing to do.

Liberalism is a term, I've never been educated in but I can tell from interactions it's something I am not a fan of in general.


I just gotta come back to say that I took my undergrad geography courses during the heyday of the Dubya administration. My geography studies ended a decade ago and to this day, the two main things I've learned that have really shaped my worldview are these:

1. Environmental determinism is a major reason why geography had a racist AF reputation for much of its early period and it's why many contemporary geographers are so allergic to anything that edges close to it, including Jared Diamond.

2. One day my urban geography prof realized all of us undergrads would hear "liberalism" and then think of it in party terms. She stopped the class and proceeded to school us all on liberalism as economic theory until we got it into our 19-year old brains what was going on. This made understanding the veins of neoliberalism somewhat easier for me later on.
posted by mostly vowels at 5:03 PM on June 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


Artw, if that were the definition of neoliberalism, it would have no meaning outside of an American context. Neoliberalism, to the extent that it has a definition, is a subphilosophy of the political and moral philosophy of liberalism, which is distinct from the American political doctrine of liberalism.
posted by Bobicus at 5:13 PM on June 5, 2018


Oh you mean like a a modified form of liberalism tending to favor free-market capitalism?
posted by Artw at 5:19 PM on June 5, 2018


That's just liberalism.
posted by Bobicus at 5:20 PM on June 5, 2018


I’m a neoliberal. Maybe you are too

Literally has a bullet point “We like markets — a lot”.
posted by Artw at 5:23 PM on June 5, 2018


That's just liberalism.

Er, no, it’s the Oxford English Dictionary.
posted by Artw at 5:25 PM on June 5, 2018


I am one of them, and perhaps you are too. Many of our left-wing opponents would describe us as neoliberal to slander us. I suggest we follow the Suffragettes and wear this label with pride.

This essay is an attempt to redefine "neoliberal" as something other than an empty epithet thrown at people who lean left but aren't socialists. The author goes by /u/totallynotshrimp on /r/neoliberal, which is essentially part of that reclamation project. I'm not sure how one reads this essay without understanding that it's a reclamation.

A liberalism that favors free-market capitalism is just liberalism because favoring free markets is literally part of liberalism. Otherwise "liberal" wouldn't be an epithet in socialist circles.
posted by Bobicus at 5:33 PM on June 5, 2018


[Come on, people, let's stop this merry-go-round. If you have something to say that isn't bickering over definitions, go for it - otherwise let it drop already.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:02 PM on June 5, 2018


Socialism with a spine: the only 21st century alternative
The soft neoliberalism represented by Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and Paul Keating has exhausted its appeal, and not just in the English-speaking world. Throughout Europe, new movements of the left have emerged to challenge or displace social democratic parties discredited by the austerity politics of the last decade.
posted by Artw at 7:34 PM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


For those of you who do enjoy GGS, you might like Professor Ian Morris' stuff. He takes the geographical determinism popularized by Diamond and updates it with a sort of conversational analysis of how technology interacts with the environment. IE Steppes don't become useful until horses are domesticated and we have stirrups or the Atlantic Ocean isn't an advantage until we have mature sailing technology that allows Europeans (Or whoever) to explore.

I think it's an interesting take. Again, I think this sort of model makes more sense as a reaction against idealist/big man theories of history. It's not very different from saying Martin Luthor wouldn't have been such a big deal without the printing press or that Trump might not have been elected without Facebook.

My issue is with people who dismiss this way of thinking 100%. No, obviously materialism doesn't explain everything, but it seems arrogant to ignore the influence of environment. To me it seems very much anti-racist, especially against the backdrop of previous theories that dominated.

I'm reminded of the quote, "All models are wrong, but some are useful."

Also, regarding the neoliberal debate... The term is being used as a pejorative that blocks some conversation. One can be a neoliberal and still support socialized medicine, social programs, redistributive justices and other forms of blended economies. I believe that markets are very good for solving certain problems like providing me with good tv shows or a variety of clothes to wear. Markets aren't great at things like providing medicine for people. That being said the American system does drive a lot of pharmaceutical research that "subsidizes" the rest of the world. (Not defending the US system at all though, I like an X prize model for research as we're dropping the ball in many areas.)

I think of how much abuse someone like Ezra Klein takes for being a neoliberal when his policies are so progressive by most standards.

Maybe the issue is the ubiquity of neoliberal assumptions? "How's the water?" "What the hell is water?" That being said, I can't think of a non market based system that didn't turn into a hellish dystopia. As with most things, the answer seems to be a balance of markets and ethical considerations. I think the German model or ordo-liberalism might be a good example? Maybe some economics types can chime in.
posted by Telf at 8:06 PM on June 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


Charles Peters and Ezra Klein discuss neoliberalism

Klein seems a fan of the Charles Peter’s Neoliberal Manifesto linked above.
posted by Artw at 8:28 PM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


I wonder how this thread would have gone if the links had been reordered. I'm partial to this paper's table of contents:

FUCK 

Christopher M. Fairman*

CONTENTS

Introduction.............................................................1711 
   I.     Fuck History ..................................................1716 
       A.     Etymology .................................................1716 
       B.     Modern Usage ..............................................1719 
   II.     Fuck as Taboo ................................................1722 
       A.     Understanding Word Taboo ..................................1722 
       B.     Psycholinguistics and Fuck ................................1724 
       C.     Effects of Taboo ..........................................1726 
   IV.     Fuck Jurisprudence ...........................................1731 
       A.     The First Amendment: From Fighting Words to “Fuck 
              the Draft”.................................................1731 
       B.     Fuck and the FCC ..........................................1736 
              1.     Pacifica and a Pig in the Parlor ...................1737 
              2.     Powell, Profanity, and the New Speech Vigilantes ...1739 
       C.     Genderspeak and Fuck in the Workplace .....................1752 
       D.     Fuck in Education..........................................1761
              1.     Tinker’s Armband but not Cohen’s Coat? .............1761 
              2.     Fuck in Teacher Speech .............................1765 
Conclusion ..............................................................1771 
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 10:34 PM on June 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Artw,

Thanks for posting the interview. Would have enjoyed a slightly longer read. I think the interview does an excellent job of demonstrating how much mission creep has seeped into the term "neoliberal". I think it's often used by some as a synonym for late stage capitalism, or just capitalist systems in general.

So based on the interview and in the words of Charles Peters, neoliberals are still pro-tax, pro social programs for the poor, against regressive taxation structures and believe in some wealth distribution policies. They definitely embrace market solutions but generally don't reflexively support all traditional liberal agenda items, instead they look at the data and decide on a case by case basis.

That's actually pretty far from the definition I might have come up with. My question is, while people are out fucking neoliberalism, what's the better solution? That's not a rhetorical question.

Are we hoping to install a full on Leninist system? A bit of Trotskyism? What's the system that we're looking at for an example? A form of market capitalism that does a better job of valuing all the externalities that traditional Chicago-style economists ignore? I mean Obama was Neoliberal as F and he was a good, evidence-based politician. Are we striving for a more German system? A Norwegian system? I think those would still fall under the umbrella of peoples' wider definitions of neoliberalism. What are we aiming for as an alternative?
posted by Telf at 12:06 AM on June 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


That's actually pretty far from the definition I might have come up with. My question is, while people are out fucking neoliberalism, what's the better solution? That's not a rhetorical question.

One of the defining social features of neoliberalism as an ideology (as opposed to the economic ones we've largely been talking about in this thread) is the tendency to view things through the lens of individual behavior rather than collective or aggregate outcomes (and the environmental/social/economic forces that lead toward those outcomes). E.g., so-and-so pulled himself up by his bootstraps so it's possible, rather than "but people born in poor zipcodes have overwhelmingly and disproportionately poor outcomes for health, economic benefit, etc."

As a result of that prevailing narrative - which is essentially the fundamental attribution error, attributing to individual factors things that are actually caused by external conditions - neoliberalism causes a disinterest in real policy approaches or system-wide methods to address problems.

Plenty of non-Leninist societies, however, still have a functioning state that uses public policy to protect the social, physical, and economic health of its citizens; that are willing to regulate capital so that the economy works for people instead of people sacrificing things for the sake of the economy.
posted by entropone at 5:28 AM on June 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


The wonderful thing about fighting the status quo is that we don't need to have a fully baked alternative already in mind. We're not trying to uninstall the Capitalism OS and install the Socialism OS. Changing a society happens in slow and improvisational fits and starts. Democratic socialists can slowly accrue power, and with that power they can implement small reforms based on socialist principles. If they continue to accrue more power after that, then they can start implementing bigger reforms, keeping what works and discarding what doesn't. There doesn't need to be a grand vision to destroy and rebuild society, we can use democratic means to develop a new society on an issue-by-issue basis.

For more thoughts on this idea, see Socialism as a Set of Principles
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 8:20 AM on June 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


The /r/neoliberal platform is less of a horror show than the neoliberalism many of you are describing in this thread:

Turns out, if you ask Republicans, the Republican party has a pretty good platform!
posted by FatherDagon at 8:43 AM on June 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


That neoliberal subreddit was full of helicopter memes before it got popular. They're really sensitive about it now.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:54 AM on June 6, 2018


"Helicopter money" solved the 2008 financial crisis. Pinochet apologia has never been welcome.
posted by Bobicus at 10:01 AM on June 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Are we hoping to install a full on Leninist system?

Well comrade, I’d probably start with the following:
* reverse the trend towards privatization. Enable government investment in infrastructure. Cease “public/private” initiatives and the general fetishization of Private as better - for most things it isn’t.
* restore regulations particularly as applies to workers rights. Strengthen unions. Pay teachers.
* minimum wage, single payer healthcare
* increase rather than decrease social spending. Tax accordingly.
* financial regulation to prevent markers being a casino for the rich
* some kind of machine to automatically slap anyone who mentions a market as a solution for anything.
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on June 6, 2018 [7 favorites]


Markets are the best mechanism for allocating steel production.

Don't @ me.
posted by GuyZero at 11:42 AM on June 6, 2018


Markets as a solution to problems are basically the neoliberal equivalent of blockchain.
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on June 6, 2018 [5 favorites]


Markets as a solution to problem are basically the neoliberal equivalent of blockchain.

You're right, but more importantly this will allow me to annoy almost everyone.
posted by The Gaffer at 11:51 AM on June 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Without steel you don't have a country. Markets don't protect America's national security. Frankly the tariffs don't go far enough; we should nationalize the steel industry for national security reasons.
posted by Bobicus at 11:55 AM on June 6, 2018


"Helicopter money" solved the 2008 financial crisis.

Would have solved it faster and cheaper if they'd actually thrown money out of the helicopters instead of handing it all over to people who just wanted to buy another one.
posted by flabdablet at 10:48 PM on June 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


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