Hola mi Gente,
The HillBilly campaign is anything but progressive. They’re a lot like the cuckoo birds… LOL
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Of Cuckoos & Neoliberals
Facts are stupid things.
— Ronald Reagan, 1988
Poor Ronnie, I believe he meant to quote Mark Twain’s, “Facts are stubborn things,” but he slipped up. I guess his whole presidency was a slip.
The best analogy I’ve heard regarding the neoliberalism, an ideology that emphasizes the value of free market competition over human interests1, is the one using the nesting habits of the cuckoo bird comparison. Cuckoos employ a rather interesting reproductive strategy involving what is known as “nest parasitism.” Briefly, the female cuckoo lays an egg in the nest of another species of bird (after first removing an egg from the host’s nest). Upon hatching, the baby cuckoo goes on to banish the remaining eggs and hatchlings of the host, at which point it becomes the sole focus of the host parent’s interest.
By now you’re probably asking why the host parents don’t push out the alien egg before the troubles begin, or at the very least abandon the parasitic baby cuckoo once it has grown to a size far larger than host parents themselves. The problem, of course, is that birds lack the critical thinking skills necessary to recognize the parasite. They take note of the eggs, of the sight of a baby bird’s features and cries, and follow a “care for egg/ hatchling in nest” instinctual pattern. It does not demand much of a masquerade on the part of the cuckoo to abuse the host’s instincts. All that is necessary is the initial neural imprinting by the parent host on the baby parasite’s signals.
One cannot help but be struck by the remarkable parallels between the nesting line of attack of the cuckoo and the infiltration of the democratic party beginning in the 1980s by neoliberals.
Just as the parasitical cuckoo bird ingratiates itself into the nest of an unsuspecting host, eventually driving out the rightful offspring, so did the neoliberals come to dominate, to the point of exclusion, what passes today for “progressivism.”
Intelligent men and women assure me that there are reasonable neoliberals capable of logic, so this will be the only point I will cede on their behalf. During the last 30 years, however, like my cuckoo birds, neoliberals have systematically dumped progressives from office, replacing them with right-wing, laissez-faire parasites. The neoliberal, who first began appearing during the Reagan years, but really took hold with the ascendancy of the Clintons in the 1990s, is a warped mutation of true progressive ideals. Furthermore, neoliberalism grew out of racist and classist ideology. Neoliberalism is characterized by a resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality; and some of the common psychological factors linked to it include fear and aggression, dogmatism, and an intolerance of ambiguity.
First, I have to begin with the Biggest Lie — the myth of the Clintons. I have had it up to here with the constant idolization of what was in fact an incompetent (and very likely predatory) president. In the pantheon of the neoliberal iconography, Bill Clinton is only slightly lower than white Jesus.
Even Bill Clinton himself has been selectively telling media outlets that he made some mistakes as president and might have acted otherwise. He’s even tried to recast actual events and been taken to task by fact-checkers who recall his leading role in what became major crises, such as the 2008 global financial implosion.
Some of the more disastrous policies of the Clinton administration include mass incarceration, increasing poverty and deregulating the finance sector. Clinton is the president most responsible for the mass incarceration of Americans on an epic scale. The gung-ho crime fighter-in-chief passed the single most damaging law with his omnibus federal crime bill in 1994. The consequences of Bill Clinton’s welfare reform bill have been devastating for millions of American families, with the number of poor families with children rising 17 percent since.
Financially, The Columbia Journalism Review concluded that, “The bottom line is: Bill Clinton was responsible for more damaging financial deregulation — and thus, for the  financial crisis — than any other president.” Clinton expanded the death penalty and the war on drugs, both of which were hugely detrimental to black and people and other people of color. Bill Clinton helped gut America’s manufacturing base by promoting and passing the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. And Hillary Clinton, an active FLOTUS, fought tooth and nail alongside her husband to get these policies through congress.
The list of draconian Clinton policies both past and present is vast but what concerns me most is that the Clintons are somehow perceived as “progressives.” And it seems that they have many people, especially African Americans and Latinxs, convinced.
Hopefully, historians will prove less easily convinced, I dunno…
My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…
1. The main points of neoliberalism include:
- THE RULE OF THE MARKET. Liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government (the state) no matter how much social damage this causes. Greater openness to international trade and investment, as in NAFTA. Reduce wages by de-unionizing workers and eliminating workers’ rights that had been won over many years of struggle. No more price controls. All in all, total freedom of movement for capital, goods and services. To convince us this is good for us, they say “an unregulated market is the best way to increase economic growth, which will ultimately benefit everyone.” It’s like Reagan’s “supply-side” and “trickle-down” economics — but somehow the wealth didn’t trickle down very much.
- CUTTING PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR SOCIAL SERVICES like education and health care. REDUCING THE SAFETY-NET FOR THE POOR, and even maintenance of roads, bridges, water supply — again in the name of reducing government’s role. Of course, they don’t oppose government subsidies and tax benefits for business.
- DEREGULATION. Reduce government regulation of everything that could diminish profits, including protecting the environment and safety on the job.
- PRIVATIZATION. Sell state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors. This includes banks, key industries, railroads, toll highways, electricity, schools, hospitals and even fresh water. Although usually done in the name of greater efficiency, which is often needed, privatization has mainly had the effect of concentrating wealth even more in a few hands and making the public pay even more for its needs.
- ELIMINATING THE CONCEPT OF “THE PUBLIC GOOD” or “COMMUNITY” and replacing it with “individual responsibility.” Pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves — then blaming them, if they fail, as “lazy.”