25 Years of Neocon-Neoliberalism: Great for the Top 5%, A Disaster for Everyone Else

One unexamined narrative I keep hearing is: “OK, so neocon-neoliberalism was less than ideal, but Trump could be much worse.” Let’s start by asking: would Syrian civilians agree with this assessment? The basic idea in the “OK, so neocon-neoliberalism was less than ideal, but Trump could be much worse” narrative is that the modest problems created by neocon-neoliberalism will pale next to what Trump will do, implying jackbooted Waffen SS troops will soon be marching through America on Trump’s orders.

This narrative is yet another example of American parochialism: since neocon-neoliberalism didn’t cause American cities to be bombed and its institutions demolished, it’s really not that bad.

Try telling that to the Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians who have been on the receiving end of neocon-neoliberalism policies. The reality is very unpleasant: for those targeted by America’s neocon-neoliberalism, nothing worse is imaginable, because the worst has already happened.

The cold reality is America’s 25 years of neocon-neoliberalism has been great for the top 5% and an unmitigated disaster for everyone else in the U.S. and the nations it has targeted for intervention.

Those defending the Democratic Party’s 16 years of neocon-neoliberalism (Clinton and Obama) and the Republican Party’s 8 years of neocon-neoliberalism (Bush) are defending a system that benefited the few at the expense of the many.

Rather than admit the past 25 years have been catastrophic for the bottom 95%, the apologists speak darkly of fantastical visions of a Nazi America as a diversion to the grim truth that they have blindly supported an evil Empire that has stripmined the bottom 95% in America and laid waste to entire nations abroad.

Neoconservatism’s malignant spores hatched in the Reagan years, and spread quickly after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Stripped to its essence, Neoconservatism is American Exceptionalism turned into a global entitlement: it’s our right to intervene anywhere in the world we choose to defend what we perceive as our interests, and it’s our right to impose our version of democracy and a market economy on other peoples.

Self-interest melds seamlessly with moral superiority in neocon-neoliberalism.The moral justification is: since ours is the best possible system, we’re doing you a favor by tearing down your institutions and imposing our system on you. The self-interest is: garsh, the “market” we imposed extracts your resources and benefits our banks and corporations. Amazing, isn’t it, how “free markets” benefit everyone?

But not equally. The claim of neoliberalism is: everything is transformed for the better when it is turned into a market. Once buyers and sellers can meet in a transparent marketplace, everybody prospers and everything becomes more efficient.

Stripped to its essence, neoliberalism is: the markets we set up are rigged to favor those at the top. All that talk about free markets is just public-relations cover to mask an intrinsically rigged quasi-market that has features of “real” markets while beneath the surface, it’s rigged to the advantage of big players at the top of the wealth-power pyramid.

Neoconservatism and neoliberalism are both inherently global, and so globalization is the necessary outcome. There is no market that cannot be skimmed for outsized profits once it has been globalized, and so once bat guano becomes a global tradeable commodity, Goldman Sachs establishes a bat guano trading desk. (This is a spoof, but you get the point.)

Neoconservatism entitles the U.S. to have an “interest” (as in profitable interest) in every nook and cranny of the planet. Policy changes in Lower Slobovia? It’s in our “interest” to monitor those changes and intervene if the policies are “not in our interests.”

Neocon-neoliberalism is brilliantly evil because it masks its true objectives behind such warm and fuzzy PR. Those looking for enemies of the people will find them not on the streets of America in cartoonish display but in the corridors of financial and policy power.

Dear apologists of the status quo: do you understand you’re defending this?

Notice how the wealth of the bottom 90% nosedived once neocon-neoliberalism became the de facto policy of Democrats and Republicans alike.No wonder Obama’s two terms seemed like Bush terms 3 and 4–in terms of a continuation of neocon-neoliberalism, they were.

Yes, profound changes in technology, automation, and geopolitics have influenced finance and wealth, but it cannot be merely coincidental that the incomes and wealth of the top 5% have pulled away from the stagnating 95% in the 25 years dominated by neocon-neoliberalism:

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  • Jill

    I think this is well argued. I am on the left and have been dismayed with Democrats. After Bush, this country was a complete mess. We needed as many people on board with social, environmental justice, stopping wars, instituting universal single payer healthcare, distributive justice after all the banking fraud, and prosecution for war and financial crimes to make the oligarchy think twice before they engaged in atrocities again.

    As the opposite of all these things became institutionalized under Obama, as our constitutional rights were shredded well beyond even what Bush had already accomplished, there was near complete silence from Democrats. I really agree with this article from Liberty Blitzkrieg: “I hope many populist movements unaligned with Trump get going in the years ahead. We need competing populism now, and a total end to elitism” and “The most dangerous types of people are actually those who hate Trump, but think the current path the country is on is just fine.” (Michael Krieger) https://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2017/01/20/you-cant-resist-trump-by-closing-your-eyes/

    I have spoken with many Democrats. Very few of them even seem aware of what has happened the past eight years. Those who are aware use the dodge you write about above. I don’t know how to talk about the reality before us because they are simply not aware of or inclined to admit to that reality. I’m hoping what Krieger writes about will happen. We need it.

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  • diogenes

    As a term, “Neocon-Neoliberalism” is a con. The perpetrators of this ongoing crime against 95 Americans in a hundred — 310 MILLION of us — is the Wall Street predator “investor” robber baron oligarchy. “Neoliberalism,” “Neoconservatism,” like “Democrat” and “Republican”, are just cover stories. Until we stop buying these cover stories, no matter who peddles them, and from whatever angle (“pro” or “con”), the pillage will continue. Smith, as always, refuses to look facts in the face and refuses to speak clearly and honestly about them. And he continues to cite bullshit coverup statistics, from the likes of “BofA Merrill Lynch” for god sake. He’s absolutely right about the “unmitigated disaster,” and everything else he says about it is misleading and frequently false. Th problem is not “the last 25 years.” The problem is the last 120 years, dating from the rise of the Wall Street vampire oligarchy and its usurpation and subversion of our constitutional democracy in the service of the greed of one person in a thousand, the 0.1% who own 28% of America, including controlling interests in ALL significant financial, industrial, merchantile and other institutions. As long as Americans don’t face facts, things will only keep getting worse. Smith is helping. Pathetic and disgusting and ludicrous.

    • wunsacon

      Diogenes, CHS does a great job explaining the situation to a point where your argument can be layered on top. I suggest disseminating this article rather than pillorying CHS.

      • diogenes

        CHS glosses over the situation with bogus statistics that conceal rather than disclose the surface reality, and he NEVER considers or discusses the underlying causes. Without addressing those causes, there is no solution. So his discussion precludes and thwarts solutions. I suggest that you read, and think about, my essay, posted elsewhere on this site, The Distribution of Wealth In America. THAT discusses causes and also discusses approaches to a solution that have historical promise, solutions rooted in American democracy, not international finance.

        • wunsacon

          I enjoy reading your comments, dio. You should consolidate your comments onto your own blog, to make them accessible to people, and support them with charts like CHS. I, for one, would subscribe via RSS.

          • diogenes

            My essay, The Distribution of Wealth in America, is posted elsewhere on this site. It includes a detailed discussion of its title subject and of the statistical problems involved, with full pertinent references. Along the way it discusses why the stats Smith repeatedly repeats are bogus. He could learn something from it, if he could learn.

    • Charlie Primero

      Dr. Antony Sutton’s book “Wall Street and the Bolshevik Revolution” will teach you why globalist bankers have funded Trotskyism for the last 100 years.

      It’s the most efficient and profitable system for extracting wealth from slaves ever invented.


      • wunsacon

        Alex Jones alludes to this sometimes. But, politics makes strange bedfellows. I think right-wingers read too much into the relationship and think it’s unfair to smear communis*m* just because imperialist capitalists upon a time backed them or try to use particular groups periodically as tools.

        “Royal” families (lineal dictatorships) with capitalist economies have been fighting each other for millenia. One “divide and conquer” tactic is to fund subversive activities in the target territory. So, I’m not surprised by, for instance, claims western capitalists funded the Bolsheviks, because that’s consistent with the western powers’ goals to undermine the Tsar and soften up Russia for a western military invasion — which is what happened. But, that doesn’t mean the subversives’ goal (e.g., communists’) were the
        same as whoever (e.g., foreign imperialist bankers) might’ve contributed
        some money to their cause. And if the subversives are successful, the backer-subversive partnership breaks apart. That, too, happened. And it gave the oligarchs the biggest scare of their existence.

        Subsequently, oligarchs do everything possible to smear communism, socialism, and any kind of wealth sharing. They engage in preventive and reactive action to reduce threats to their grossly disproportionate share of wealth.

      • diogenes

        So what? That was 99 years ago. The problem now isn’t “Trotskyism” for god’s sake. What planet do you live on. The problem now is the Wall Street absentee investor predator oligarchy that has usurped and subverted our democracy. Now we get to see if Trump is another of their wolf-in-sheeps-clothing hirelings, like the last one. What do you bet?

        • Charlie Primero

          Trotsky was a Billionaire.

          It would be good for you to figure out my Billionaires funded Communism in 1917, and why they still fund it today.

          Communism is the most effective system ever developed for extracting wealth from Workers and transferring it up the hierarchy of predation to Billionaires.

          • diogenes

            I’m familiar with Sutton’s excellent works, including the one you mention. My comment doesn’t address them, it addresses the relevance of yours to present circumstances.

    • Zap

      I agree with what you are saying but there are many authors now using the “deep state” argument as a sort of workaround so as to avoid being instantaneously marginalized as a “conspiracy theorist” as CHS would be if he were to use the CFR, Tri Lateral Commission, Bilderberg Group, Federal Reserve, central banker, Rockeffeller Rothschild argument.

      Isn’t that what happens to you when you bring up exactly who is controlling governments?
      The “conspiracy theory” straw man is so powerful that the mere mention of any of these groups and people who are in control causes 90% of people, even educated people, to completely tune out and ignore any and all evidence presented. They have used this rhetorical straw man to squash any investigation into this subject as far back as Quigley’s Tragedy and the Hope and they have used it to squash investigation from both sides of the political aisle by associating it with groups like the John Birch Society and Lyndon Larouche…so to the left it became whacked out ultra right woo woo and they also used radical Marxist’s in the case of “The Imperial Brain” so to the right it became ultra left woo woo…..also in there you have both William F Buckley condemning this analysis of politics on the right…..and his polar opposite Noam Chomsky doing the same on the left……both acting as gatekeeper’s

      • diogenes

        It’s you who import the “conspiracy theory” meme into this discussion. Whatever CHS’s rationale for avoiding facts and basic causes, it guts his discussion. Or gelds it. Pick your metaphor. Either way, he’s part of the problem, not part of the solution, whether its from lack of brains, lack of guts or lack of balls.

        • diogenes

          By the way, conspiracies happen. A corporation is a conspiracy, so is a union, so is a Boy Scout Troop, so is the Catholic Church, so is a PTA Club or a bowling league. The question, who what and why, in any specific case. The idea that something can or cannot be called a conspiracy or that a “conspiracy theory” is by definition illogical or implausible or disreputable — is moronic. And it’s a red herring.

          The question isn’t the character of the theory, the question is the facts — who what why. For example, the facts show that JFK was shot from in front. His head jerked back. That’s physics. And it demonsrates conclusively that Oswald didn’t shoot him from behind. Any fucking idiot can see that until his head is fulled with bullshit by hired liars and worse than hired liars. And right away the facts, and physics, show that the official story is bullshit. And that, right there, is a giveaway. Stick to the facts, the evidence. That’s science. Arguing about theory is for professors who get paid to keep their heads up their asses.

        • Zap

          Reading comprehension is not your strong point or explaining is not mine.

          CHS is talking about the exact same groups and people you are and I am.