As a reminder: Neoliberals are those people who consider the capitalist market the most important thing in life, with the implied consequences that markets always produce the optimum results, wealthy capitalists are obviously the best rulers and the State exists primarily to make and enforce the laws that allow established capitalists to operate profitably.
Neoliberalism corrupts culture, because culture is seen in terms of profit and power, and hence as produced through the falsehoods, advertising, hype, and PR which support profit and power. Only what is profitable and what contributes to plutocracy is valuable and good. Because Climate Change challenges some sources of power and profit, it becomes an unsolvable cultural and social problem, to be ignored, avoided or hidden for as long as possible.
Neoliberal politicians have no place for deep thinking, or hard virtue in facing reality, only thee word slogans, obfuscation and the promotion of established businesses. National pride is used to build racism, and loyalty to the corporate project. Economic theory is used to justify poisoning people and polluting environments, because any regulation of big business is foolishness and anathema. Culture wars are used to entrench their ‘common sense’, and to show that thinking will be excoriated and punished – doubly useful because if scientists or other experts say that neoliberal policies are rubbish and achieve the opposite of what they claim, then they are to be dismissed as part of the culture wars. The objections of others to their fantasies, are branded as politically evil, not attempts at trying to deal with reality, and people on the right know they face punishment should they turn. There is no need for neoliberals to listen to the opposition. Liberty of big business is to be preserved over your ‘accidentally’ dead bodies, and stultified minds.
Neoliberal inability is best demonstrated by climate change and ecological destruction. Rather than face up to the growing problems, to the growing knowledge we have about these problems or even to public demand, they run away.
They are faced with the problem that powerful and wealthy companies make massive profits out of selling fuels which are poisonous, through mining which is ecologically destructive, and through emissions which disrupt the global climate system. As profitable, it is taken for granted that these fuels are good. Challenging those fuels being burnt is evil, because it would threaten profit, or threaten the expansion of “free markets” and corporate domination elsewhere in the world.
There is nothing else to think, or which can be allowed to be thought.
So the problem is politicised. We get neoliberals claiming that climate change is a socialist plot – because people on the left see the potential desctruction of Western civilisation as a problem. We are told that it means the end of capitalism, when it probably means that some businesses have to change their ways of gaining profit, and adapt to reality. We are told that because the left has proposed solutions, the right is justifiably reluctant to propose its own solutions.
Neoliberals both cannot, and have not, proposed any solutions. They have managed to make this lack of thought and action part of their culture, because their culture is not geared to reality, but to maintaining existing profit and power. Neoliberal theory appears to have no way of beginning to think about this problem, other than hoping the market will solve it in time, and bear the cost of developing extensive new technology, even while they continue to pour subsidies into the fossil fuel industry to corrupt the market. This is the simple truth of the matter.
Hence in Australia, the East Coast is burning because of extended drought and high temperature. Sydney’s particulate pollution exceeds the recognized hazardous levels by a factor of 11. The neoliberals made the fires worse by ignoring warnings, cutting back on experienced fire fighting crew, refusing to plan for extended conflagrations, and refusing (and still refusing) to talk with fire chiefs. The Prime Minister refuses to go to the fire fronts, and instead apparently goes on holiday, to a place with breathable air (its secret you see).
[If you are Australian, you know that all previous prime ministers, including the neoliberals, would have been seen at the front, and would have emergency consultations, because it was their duty, even if they did nothing as a result. Now we have a marketing man in charge, and there is no duty. It is a sad day indeed, when one feels nostalgia for Tony Abbott.]
They are full of blame and displacement. The situation has nothing to do with them. They can take no responsibility, perhaps because they model their favoured form of social organization, the corporation, which is designed to avoid personal responsibilities and be potentially immortal.
Neoliberals misdirect as a matter of course. They claim it was the hostility of the greens to preventative burning that caused the fires, when that is not a Greens’ policy, Greens have marginal influence on government action, and in NSW the fire service exceeded government targets for preventative burning in a shorter period of time than expected (because the suitable periods of time are shrinking due to climate change). It was the fault of criminal people lighting fires, but this always happens, it just so happened that the drought and climate change made the consequences of fire-lighting worse. This is not exactly unpredictable. They say we always have fires in Australia. This is true, but these seem to be worse than we have ever had; instead of Black Friday, or Black Saturday, we have Black November and December, and the days of real heat and wind are still to come. Some of them still say climate change is not real, that all climate scientists are deluded – anything but think neoliberals might be the ones with a problem.
We have a country which is imperiled by drought. The drought is the worse I have seen. Even in the areas around Berrima, which are nearly always green the fields are dry and brown. However, in these drought regions some mining companies have unlimited access to water, or expect to be able to continue to take water from farmers and country towns, because they are big business and that is how it works. This is apparently not a problem for neoliberals.
Ecological destruction is not a problem for neoliberals; indeed sometimes it seems a triumph, as if they are transcending reality in their fantasy, and giving mortality and threat the boot, by producing this destruction.
Is this because they think enough wealth (the marker of proficiency and virtue) will save them? And if the rest of the people suffer, then, that is not a problem, as those people have shown they are not virtuous by not being rich enough to survive? Ordinary people are just labour-fodder to them?
Neoliberals seem paralysed by reality, because it goes against their culture of hoping that the market and big business can solve every real problem there is. They live in a world of delusion, of positive thinking, of PR, Hype, and advertising; in other words they live in a culture of lies.