If you’re connected to me via facebook you know I was updating furiously during the Obama speech. And I agreed with much of it. What he’s doing is nothing less than revolutionary–at least within the context of the last 10 plus years of American politics. The Great Society, the New Deal, Obama isn’t using a nice neat phrase to refer to his attempt to change the social contract, but this is what he’s doing. The GOP will attempt to maintain party discipline and serve as the party of obstruction–something the DNC should have done during the previous eight years–but i am not sure they’ll be able to hold up. States are coming close to the fiscal edge as we speak, and the numbers don’t even begin to tell the story.
Yet and still there was one element of Obama’s speech that I find troubling. He’s still holding on to the line about what parents need to do to ensure their kids educational success.
We’ve moved away from neoliberal policies. I’m expecting us to nationalize banks any day now. And whereas ten years ago we were gushing over CEO heroes, no one is looking to business or to MBA management practices to solve pressing social problems.
Neoliberalism is dead.
But yet and still we’re employing various rhetorical and institutional devices to frame issues in such a way that personal discipline and hustle remain central. We can have a kid write the President a letter telling him her school is basically crumbling around her….yet still emphasize “parental responsibility”, even as the kid sits next to the First Lady. This is neoliberal governmentality in a nutshell, creating a discourse in which people feel compelled to govern themselves, embedding neoliberal ideas about human capital deep within their souls.
I’ve never felt more connected to the country than I have this year. Seeing Obama handle the toughest crisis we’ve faced in the modern era with aplomb was powerful to see, particularly given his predecessor. But that’s part of the problem for me.
Neoliberalism is dead. Long live neoliberalism.