The spirit of Tahrir Square and the worldwide Occupy movement has been captured in the rise of the Syriza and Podemos parties, and most lately made manifest in the Labour Party victory of the socialist Jeremy Corbyn in Great Britain and the rise in the polls of liberal independent Bernie Sanders in the United States.
And don't forget the global moral and political influence of Pope Francis, soon to set foot on our shores to deliver a powerful and well-deserved kick to the Neoliberal Project's well-padded ass.
The old saw that all politics is local still holds true, of course, as long as you define "local" in the grotesque, flat-earthish Thomas Friedman way. People the wide world over are delivering stinging rebukes, with varying success, to the scourge of globalization.
By a nearly half million vote margin, the members of the Labour Party handed a huge victory to Jeremy Corbyn, who the socialist writer Tariq Ali has described as his party's "most left-wing leader ever." He explains,
The Thatcherite Blair/Brown twins agreed to share power thus creating two power-hungry factions with no political differences except that Tony Blair hungered for both power and money. He gave us the wars in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq, while Gordon Brown was oblivious to the vulnerabilities of financialised capitalism and spent billions of taxpayers’ money bailing out banks that might have (after paying the depositors) been best left to croak. Both bureaucratised the Labour Party by neutering the party conference, reducing it to a tacky version of the US Democrats. All show, no substance. They denuded constituency Labour parties of the right to select their own prospective parliamentary candidates. This was the only way they could transform a large chunk of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) into a collection of over-promoted office boys and girls together with bandwagon careerists.It's only a short hop, in this age of globalization, from the canyons of Wall Street to the City of London. Obama political operative Jim Messina, who currently helps run the Hillary Clinton campaign, was also instrumental in the re-election of austerian British P.M. David Cameron. Neoliberalism, just like the money it worships, knows no national boundaries, either geographically or politically.
The people of Great Britain are rejecting what is known as Blairism, the ideological twin of "New Democrat" Clintonism. This direct offshoot of Reaganism/Thatcherism purported to soften the right-wing nihilism of the Neocons and Randians by adding a thin patina of "social responsibility" to the global greed agenda.
As Manfred B. Steger and Ravi K. Roy lay out in Neoliberalism: A Very Short Introduction, Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair and Democratic President Bill Clinton closely collaborated on a kinder, gentler version of supply side, trickle-down economics: what the authors call the "second wave" of neoliberalism, which still continues under the plutocrat-friendly regimes of Cameron and Obama. This is Reaganism/Thatcherism rendered palatable for public relations purposes through a more socially progressive agenda. It is still rule by the Market, but rule by the Market with government programs to boost "individual entrepreneurship." It still promotes selfishness, but with the higher purpose of selling selfishness as a universal right. (What Obama and other New Dems tackily call aspirational "ladders of opportunity" and "a level playing field.")
Steger and Roy write,
(Blair and Clinton) hoped that their "purified" product - a socially conscious market globalism - would propel the entire world toward a new golden age of technological progress and prosperity. Such "modernized" second-wave neoliberalism had a tremendous impact on the political landscape of the post-communist 1990s.... United in their approach to liberalize trade relations and integrate national economies into a single global market, Clinton and Blair would eventually take credit for the "Roaring Nineties" - a decade of economic boom.Thanks to the deregulation of global finance and the job-destroying, wage-suppressing corporate coups disguised as free trade deals, the bubble burst all over the world. Only the oligarchs recovered. Of the trillions of dollars in household wealth lost in the Great Collapse of 2008, the top One Percent glommed up more than 90 percent of the recovery.
Cornyn's victory is a resounding popular rejection of Third Way neoliberalism, or Blairism, possibly to be paralleled here in the US by a Democratic primary rejection of Clintonite Hillary.
It's a rejection of the pernicious globalization that won't rest until it destroys the planet and all the living things that dwell on it. The voters have repudiated the flim-flam notion that the endless growth of capitalism, even growth tempered by what centrists call "social responsibility," is just what the doctor ordered. They have just said nada to the record wealth inequality engendered by the cancer of neoliberalism. They have said No Mas to too big to fail and jail banks getting bailed out, and regular people getting screwed.
Since Blairism and Clintonism are veritable ideological twins, I think it's safe to say that the Corbyn victory is also coming soon to an American theater near you. It's called Feeling the Bern. (It has been delayed by about seven years, due to the mass hypnosis inflicted upon voters by Barack Obama, who ran on a brilliantly phony populist platform and then governed like a neoliberal on steroids. To paraphrase Tariq Ali, he is the very essence of All Show, No Substance.)
Of course, given the entrenched deep state comprising the Pentagon and the CIA and the NSA and all the other shadow agencies we know little to nothing about, a total rejection of corporatism will be much harder to accomplish here in the One Exceptional Nation. It is Jeremy Corbyn, with his anti-war, anti-imperialism stance, who puts the real social back into socialism.
The plutocracy and the mass media owned by it are trying to discredit Corbyn just as they are trying to discredit Bernie Sanders here. But there is no turning back the global populist rejection of neoliberalism.
People are too sick and tired to just lay down and take it anymore.
Whether politicians like Corbyn and Sanders bear out the "pendulum theory" of self-correcting politics, and pull their respective nations back from the abyss, remains to be seen. The power of the national security state and the war machine and the oligarchy and the media stenographers may make a true reversal next to impossible.
Sanders, who recently acknowledged that he would continue Obama's drone assassination policy and war on terror, is a hawk in comparison to the pacifistic Corbyn.
And then, there's always the distinct possibility that American voters will reject the ill-effects of neoliberalism by voting for Donald Trump over Sanders, should he become the nominee.
As Morris Berman pessimistically wrote in Dark Ages America,
Given the emptiness, alienation, violence and ignorance that are now pervasive in this country, it is hard to imagine where a recovery would come from. The self-correction theory is at least partly based on the popular reaction of an informed citizenry. In this regard, the nature of the American populace today is not a source of inspiration or hope."(Needless to say, the New York Times trashed Berman's book for its "grumpy-lefty" Bernie-esque exposure of American dysfunction. This was in 2006, back when the Times was still championing the Iraq War and all things exceptionally American. This was back when torture was still "enhanced interrogation". Reviewer Mitoko Rich thought it terribly unpatriotic of Berman to not only question George Bush's motives, but to postulate that 9/11 constituted blowback against American imperialism. Fast forward to Perpetual Presidential Campaign substituting for substance, and I think we can agree that nothing has changed at the Grey Lady, or even worse, at the anti-Corbyn empire known as Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.)
I'll say this, though. Can you imagine anything more pessimistic and depressing than Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush leading in the polls right now? Can you imagine if the last Pope hadn't resigned and we didn't have Francis around to condemn unbridled capitalism as "the dung of the devil?"
I will take my crumbs of Enlightenment optimism wherever I can find them.