Chris Dillow is a blogger and a self-proclaimed Marxist who churns out articles which are well above the head of the average Guardian or Telegraph reader.
He caused a stir in a recent article by questioning whether neoliberalism actually exists: a question that has often occurred to me.
Obviously for your average leftie that’s like a red rag to a bull: neoliberalism is one of the political left’s stock enemies. Neoliberalism in the eyes of lefties is pure evil and must be countered and fought with every possible means.
As to what neoliberalism actually is, that’s of little interest to lefties or indeed to 99% of the population. The important point for lefties is to have evil monsters to fight and to be seen as latter day St Georges valiantly fighting wicked dragons.
Neoliberalism is normally associated with Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan and consists (so far as I can see) of nothing more than a pro-free market stance, in contrast to the political left, which tends to favour more of a Soviet Union centrally planned type of economy or at least more state control of the means of production and devoting a higher proportion of GDP to public spending.
Neoliberalism, at least in the UK, was also a reaction to the worst excesses of Labour governments prior to Thatcher;in a nutshell Labour governments went in for subsidising every loss making industry in the country, especially where such industries were in cabinet ministers’ constituencies. Thatcher was right to deplore that sort of economic management, and advocated the free market as an alternative.
But if neoliberalism simply consists of a relatively pro-free market stance, why not say so? That is, why not just refer to something like a “pro free market stance”? The answer of course is that “neoliberalism” is a long, important sounding word with no less than seven syllables. And lefties just love important sounding words: it makes up for the dearth of actual ideas in their heads.
Multiculturalism is another multi-syllabic, important sounding word.
Another reason why important sounding but near meaningless words and phrases are popular, is that a substantial proportion of the human races loves repeating the same words and phrases over and over: words and phrases like “Sieg Heil” and “Allahu Akbar” or “strong and stable”.
Personally I’d rather listen to a dog barking: at least dogs don’t have intellectual pretentions. They just say “woof” over and over.
Another example of the left’s fantasy enemies is “racism”. Not one in a hundred lefties (or “righties” for that matter) knows the dictionary definition of ‘racism’ or its dubious origins. But never mind. The important point is that ‘racism’ is a dragon which one must be seen to be trying to slay.
As to what ‘racism’ actually is; my Concise Oxford Dictionary says it is either the belief that some races are superior to others or hatred or discrimination based on the latter belief. Now hatred and discrimination are clearly wrong. But I fail to see what is wrong with, for example, the claim that some races have higher IQs than others, as long as that claim is backed by some sort of research rather than just prejudice. In short, there is not necessarily anything wrong with ‘racism’, at least on the Oxford Dictionary definition of the word. Put another way, saying you oppose ‘racism’ is a fatuous over-simplification.
But never mind, ‘racism’ is a fantasy dragon and one gains lots of kudos or “St George” points if one can be seen trying to slay that particular fantasy dragon.