I’ve said this before but why not again?
In the 80s right wing parties, in much of the Western World, embraced neoliberalism. The official excuse was the oil shock and stagflation (inflation and stagnation together). The Keynesian compromise did not seem to be working.
Neoliberalism is essentially the public doctrine that the free market liberates creativity and solves all possible problems the best possible way, and brings liberty, as the government “gets out of your life”
The secret doctrine of neoliberalism, which is pretty open, is that the market rules, and makes the rules, and government should aim to protect successful players in the market, as they are the best possible people. Hierarchy in the market is god-given. and market leaders are chosen by the market for their virtues. Even monopoly in a market is competitive according to ‘Contestability theory’.
This policy aims to give more power and wealth to the established wealth elites, and takes money, power and working conditions from the poorer and the middle classes. As a result, the new Wealth Elites are amazingly more wealthy and powerful than even the ordinary wealthy.
You cannot honestly sell these policies to the electorate in a democracy.
- So you need culture wars about nothing.
- You need to encourage anger and hysteria in the populace to inhibit calm dispassion
- You need to encourage fear of other news sources
- You need to make scapegoats who can be used to explain ordinary peoples’ losses, and who cannot respond in kind.
Democracy and a well informed electorate is anathema – because informed, powerful people would take back their power and ‘interfere in the market’ – perhaps to protect their local environment, stop their children being poisoned or shot, get better working conditions or higher pay etc. They might act to lower profit or reduce the wealth hierarchy – and this is bad, this is what neoliberalism protects corporations from, and so it endlessly promotes helplessness, distraction and displacement.
When neoliberalism clashes with the best knowledge we have, then the best knowledge we have has to be destroyed. People have to be told that by not believing this best knowledge they are being independent thinkers, and standing up to the left wing establishment who are supposedly oppressing them by promoting this knowledge.
The only real knowledge that can be allowed are worldviews that support neoliberalism.
So a significant number of people start believing whatever is reassuring: Climate change is not real. Climate change is not a problem. Covid restrictions are tyranny. Covid is a mild flu that rarely hurts anyone. Covid is a global medical conspiracy to impose communism. The US election was stolen by Joe Biden. Free Markets deliver liberty. etc etc
People become accustomed to believing improbable things, without wondering if they are true or not, or only reading those who support the untruths, and that becomes stupidity. One you accept one or two overtly false axioms you can be lead to believe almost anything.
Stupidity is a political policy- engineered to support and encourage plutocracy.