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OpEdNews Op Eds    H1'ed 1/14/17

Let's Hunt Neoliberals to Political Extinction (Part 1 of 2)

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The Left-Progressive Consensus: Neoliberals Are Public Enemy #1

There's a growing consensus among left-progressives--meaning all progressives who regard their principles as vastly more important than today's Democratic Party--that neoliberals are our worst enemy.

Rahm Emanuel - Neoliberal poster child
Rahm Emanuel - Neoliberal poster child
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Indeed, it can plausibly be argued that neoliberals are humanity's worst enemy, for by their stranglehold on U.S. and much of global politics, they stymie enactment of the progressive climate-justice agenda essential to saving human civilization from climate catastrophe. The same agenda Naomi Klein forcefully sketched and defended in her watershed book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.

Whether capitalism ultimately needs to be regulated or replaced is an open question, one Klein (rightly) doesn't answer, for it's hardly humanity's most pressing current issue. What is currently most pressing is how progressives can wrest power from neoliberals, who offer Rock-of-Gibraltar opposition to both options: mitigating capitalism by strong regulation and replacing it with a better system. Given Klein's acute grasp of neoliberals' political tyranny as the foremost barrier to urgent reform, it's hardly surprising she wrote the first article to draw the crucial anti-neoliberal lesson from Trump's expectation-defying victory.

In Klein's own words, "The Democratic Party needs to be either decisively wrested from pro-corporate neoliberals, or it needs to be abandoned." Ending neoliberals' political tyranny--based in today's Democratic Party--is the U.S. progressive left's highest priority.

Obviously, Klein alone doesn't constitute a consensus of progressive-left opinion. In the days since Trump's election, neoliberals--whom his victory should have discredited--have become, if anything, more dangerous. And a host of insightful leftists have been quick to perceive the danger. There's hardly sufficient space here for an honor roll of leftist writers who've analyzed the menace neoliberals, working mainly from the shadows, currently pose to both the U.S. and planetary common good. In particular, we should thank every writer who's shown extreme skepticism about government and media claims that Russians "hacked the presidential election" and who has exposed the likely political motivations underlying that dubious claim.

Among left-progressive "heavy hitters," it's crucial to cite Chris Hedges and Glenn Greenwald, who alone provide almost all the clues needed to decipher what neoliberals, with their dangerous Russia-blaming, are up to. While Hedges writes a balanced, comprehensive analysis of possible motives for the highly suspect "election hacking" claims, Greenwald's rather alarmist account--precisely because it's alarmist--is perhaps even more insightful. In tying Democratic Party neoliberals to the Deep State brilliantly analyzed by Mike Lofgren (also see Lofgren's book), Greenwald has exposed the most sinister juncture of interests now poisoning U.S. politics.

While Democrat neoliberals (as the political arm of global plutocratic and corporate interests) and the Deep State (as an entrenched "shadow government") have their own separate agendas, there's clearly enough overlap that Clinton-style neoliberals almost inevitably promote the interests of the Deep State. In addition to Hillary's warmongering and lackey support for Israeli injustice, her allegiance to the Deep State never betrayed itself more transparently than in her vendetta against heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden. Perhaps Greenwald's heroic role in publishing Snowden's eye-popping leaks on universal spying gives him special insight into the deeply sinister neoliberal-Deep State nexus.

I aim here not to establish an honor roll, but to confirm the reality of a left-progressive consensus that neoliberals are our foremost enemy. Consequently, I'll cite several representative left-progressive writers whose articles collaring "blame the Rooskies" neoliberals--as enemies we must fight under Trump--I found particularly insightful. In no special order, they are Paul Street, Dave Lindorff, Caitlyn Johnstone, Norman Solomon, David Swanson, and Yoav Litvin. Please realize that this list of left-progressive writers castigating neoliberal Democrats, who dodge deserved blame for losing to Trump by dangerously scapegoating nuclear-power Russia, is far from comprehensive. But it hints at an emerging leftist consensus that fighting neoliberals is our highest priority under Trump.

Scratch a Liberal, Find a Neoliberal

With due apologies to rank-and-file progressive Democrats who, defying current common usage, still proudly call themselves "liberals," we must make a crucial point about most current Democrat politicians who pass for liberals in mainstream media. Namely, that they're pro-corporate neoliberals hiding behind the identity-politics fig leaf of the name "liberal." It's quite significant in this regard that anti-corporate insurgent Bernie Sanders, upon questioning, identified himself as a progressive and not a liberal.

Appealing to working-class voters in a way that transcended the conventional Democrat-Republican divide (where Democrats misleadingly pass for liberals and Republicans for conservatives), Bernie proved why he was worth at least critical left-progressive support. As Andrew Levine asserted in an insightful piece penned during the Democratic primaries, Bernie (whatever his progressive shortcomings) at least provided a means for escaping the shallow trap of the Democrat-Republican, liberal-conservative divide. As a Democratic Party outsider, he offered an unprecedented (albeit overly tame) prospect of fighting the real problem of "Clintonism" (a.k.a neoliberalism) thwarting every progressive initiative in America's "jackass party." Since we inhabit a duopoly where only two parties have any hope of winning elections, and since Republicans are anti-progressive on principle, neoliberals' domination of the Democratic Party poses a grave problem for both left-progressives and the common good. A point Levine succinctly grasped in his subtitle: "Why Democrats, Not Republicans, Are the Problem."

Or rather, Republicans pose a special problem of their own, which can't possibly be solved by a Democratic Party that secretly shares so many neoliberal and Deep-State agendas with today's GOP. Resisting Trump--while castigating rather than empowering neoliberals in the process--is the central problem of organizing left-progressive opposition under Trump. It should be obvious that we need a political movement based on that premise. And such a movement would really be a movement of movements, for it would unite all progressive/populist movements (e.g., Fight for 15, Black Lives Matter, and the anti-war and anti-fracking movements) against their common enemy.

As neoliberals' deceptive self-portrayal as "liberals" and their sleazy attempts to pin their electoral loss on Putin make clear, that enemy can operate effectively only in the dark. The needed movement, by organizing explicitly against neoliberals, must drag left-progressives' enemies into the most glaring, harshest spotlight.

[NEXT IN PART TWO: How the needed progressive movement must be transpartisan, rejecting Democratic Party unity for the sake of pronouncing the stigmatizing and divisive neoliberal "N-word."]

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Patrick Walker is co-founder of Revolt Against Plutocracy (RAP) and the Bernie or Bust movement it spawned. Before that, he cut his activist teeth with the anti-fracking and Occupy Scranton PA movements. No longer with RAP, he wields his pen (more...)

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