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Neocon and Neolib--Pick Your Poison

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Even when not in the midst of some campaign we hear a lot about neocons and neoliberals. Ever wondered what the words mean? As policy labels they are not interchangeable although as epithets both may apply.

Their precursors, conservatism and liberalism, existed equably enough in Western economics for some time. Although not identical there was commonality: Conservatism espoused low taxes with minimal government debt and spending while liberalism endorsed trade free of government intrusion.

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With the prefix those progenitors diverged. In a nutshell, neocons were about foreign policy and neoliberals domestic policy.


The United States is the beacon that lights the world. It is indispensable to order and justice in the world, which makes it exceptional. It has the best system of governance, one it is eager to share, even to impose, for what is good for the US is good for the world.

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The US gallantly accepts her role as the ruler of the world--a benevolent ruler with brawn. As such, the US must spread her enlightened, economically liberal policies into the failed states or oppressive regimes that need those policies, whether or not they agree. The Middle East is ripe for correction, as mistaken in its tumult as a naughty child, and never mind the causes; the US looks ahead, not behind. Furthermore, the turmoil there threatens Israel, and this will not be tolerated. There must be a freshly governed, democratized--and, needless to say, biddable--Middle East cleansed of its past as a breeding ground for terrorists. Peace is attainable only through the healing balm of strong US leadership, and strong leadership is proven by war.

It is this imperial mindset, resolute in its aim to spread the word, that the US once projected onto evil machinating commies back in the first Cold War.


Economic liberalism, entrenched in the US until early last century, was challenged by the Great Depression, which finally lost its hold when governments and central banks intervened to put people back to work. But over the last 25 years as capitalist profits shrank, the slumbering corporate giant awoke, donned its tattered liberal gown, and called it neo.

Here the beacon is the free and shining market. To reach its full effulgence this beacon must be undimmed by regulation, unions, or price controls. Government services are superfluous as the market exists to fulfill those needs and better. Public services are replaced by individual responsibility, the common good by self-made men, government teats by wily coyotes.

There is an exception. Corporations, as we now know, are people. When you think about it, though, it's not quite the same. Not for the reason that you might think--that corporations are purely legal entities devoid of life certainly in their rarefied consumptive upper echelons--but rather because corporate people have the rights without the responsibilities of mere breathers. Subsidies and loopholes are kosher for the corporate. Better yet for corporations and those with sufficient wealth to partake is a whole separate and unequal investor-state dispute-resolution legal system, which, since its dark gestation under NAFTA, has become positively engorged; the exception that makes its own rules.

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But for the mere flesh-and-blood unincorporated citizen-cum-consumer, if you want to read a book, go buy one. If you want to grow crops, Monsanto provides engineered seeds whose progeny won't germinate. If you want a drink of water, shell out for, as Nestle's CEO Peter Brabeck says, clean drinking water is not a right; it's a product. If the TPP comes into unholy existence and you publish an article that a corporation says causes it to lose money, somebody is going to pay for those lost profits. And if you should fail to justify your existence in the dispassionate eyes of the decider you're defective or lazy, and in either case you don't deserve to live.


In a perversion of 'think globally, act locally', neoliberalism arose locally but, enabled by neocon militance, spread and seeks to continue its spread, for what is good for the US is good for the world. Commonality restored, neocons and neolibs differ mainly in the means they employ. Now, tentacles entwined in a soulless embrace, neopolity seeks to cover, convert, and conquer the world.

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And if you've ever wondered whether Hillary Clinton is a neocon or a neoliberal, the answer is yes.


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Schooled in psychology and biomedical illustration, of course I became a medical writer!

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