Sunday, August 21, 2016

Smells Like Neoliberal Teen Spirit

 Hillary Clinton is so out of touch, she thinks that she can woo a lost generation of debt-crushed Bernie Sanders supporters through the glossy perfumed pages of Teen Vogue (part of the high-fashion publishing empire of her friend, Anna Wintour.)

Either she's really that clueless, or she's cynical enough to gleefully rub their noses in her elitism. She probably neither wants nor needs the Bernie vote, as evidenced by her recent marathon of buck-raking from Wall Street to Hollywood to Silicon Valley and on to the Republicans and Neocons and war profiteers of the military-industrial complex.

Joseph Stiglitz might have recently announced that global Clinton-style neoliberalism is dead in the water, but just try telling that to Hillary Clinton. Her Teen Vogue pep talk to America's youth is literally bursting at the seams with the language of neoliberalism. Everything in your life must be viewed through the lens of the Market:

"I consume and I compete, therefore I am."

Of course, you're also required to vote every four years in order to give your galloping consumption that false glow of democratic good health. Solidarity with your fellow citizens has nothing much to do with it. At the very most, you can digitally fist-bump each other on Facebook and Twitter.

Speaking of false glows, take a look at Teen Vogue's misty watercolor rendering of Hillary. She appears to be totally blissing out on one of those Bernie Sanders hallucinogens (Medicare for All, maybe?) that she used to rail against so stridently as pure uncut pie-in-the-sky.

What are those things cascading out of her head? Rainbow and unicorn-flavored happy pills from Bernie's basement? Whatever they are, they're certainly a patriotic red, white and blue. So my best guess is they're supposed to be tiny deflated balloons, the better to symbolize your lowered expectations.

Lowering your expectations and consoling yourself that you have enough "grit" and "resilience" to cancel out your misery is, after all, one of the prime selling points of Neoliberalism.

Before we're allowed to begin perusing Hillary's essay, we're warned informed in advance by Teen Vogue editors that it will be "seriously inspiring." Did you really think this was going to be a fun read, something you can swipe across your iPad screen in a digitized minute? I mean, seriously. Get real, Gal Pals!

The intro continues (neoliberal buzzwords are my bold, here and throughout):
 For September, our theme was #ForGirlsByGirls, which focused on female creatives and empowerment. For the first time in our brand's 13-year history, our magazine was photographed exclusively by women. To check out our September issue cover story, starring Tavi Gevinson and written and styled by Grace Coddington, go here. And as always, don't forget to pick up your own copy of the magazine, on newsstands August 16th. (But PS — you can subscribe here!)

I already learned something so very cool and totally Neo."Creative" has become an actual noun! I also didn't realize that you cannot be the mere subject of a Teen Vogue magazine cover piece. You are the star of one. Thankfully, though, I am not so retro that I didn't know that when you put a phrase after a hashtag, there is no need to use your space-bar. That isn't an efficient way of marketing your individual brand.

So as not to keep you panting in suspense any longer, you'll be seriously inspired to learn that Hillary begins her advice column by dishing about two empowered and inspiring young people she met recently on the campaign trail. 

The first is a girl named Britain (not to be confused with America or Estonia) who combated online bullying by simply talking to her parents, ignoring her tormentors, and then marketing her techniques to other bullying victims. "If I can conquer it, anyone can," Hillary quotes her as boasting in true entrepreneurial teen spirit.

The second youth, named Duncan, caught Hillary's attention via his convocation speech at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Our future Madame President writes,
In a spoken-word poem, he shared his struggles in life and urged his fellow graduates to fight inequality and inspire students. “I teach in hopes of turning content into rocket ships, tribulations into telescopes,” he said. “So a child can see their potential from right where they stand.” Donovan’s message hit home, and by the end of the next day almost 3 million people had watched his speech on Facebook.
This is Neoliberalism 101. You vaguely share experiences fighting against nothing or nobody in particular, and then you fill the brains of your fellow consumers and combatants with happy deflated thought-balloons. All you need are visions of potential, and before you know it, a rocket ship will zoom you and your student debt right out into space. And then three million content-consumers will friend you on Facebook as your every click is tracked for the benefit of corporations trying to sell you crap that you can't afford and didn't even know you desperately wanted until they told you.

Hillary continues her sermonette:
 Britain and Donovan aren’t outliers. They’re part of a rising generation that’s more diverse, open, and connected than ever. If you’re reading this, it’s a safe bet that you’re part of that as well.Everywhere I go, smart, driven young people are creating new ways to communicate, starting companies that innovate, and pursuing jobs that have an impact on people’s lives. They’re standing up to some of the biggest challenges in the world today, from income inequality to gun violence to climate change.
Oh, where to even begin in this hodgepodge of neoliberal buzzwords signifying absolutely nothing. First, let's get the identitarian Democratic politics out of the way. As long as a few designated minority kids can get a leg up, then it's all liberally good for everybody in Clintonworld. And as for the privileged meritocratic few, they'll have all the time and money and family support and loan forgiveness they need to become their own tech brands. It's all right there on Hillary's website! And if they're not starting their own companies, they're certainly not sitting on their Berniebro butts waiting for a handout or government job or debt relief. They're out there competing against one another for jobs. With impact, whatever the hell that even means. It certainly sounds brutal, but Hillary doesn't offer any details.

 Rather than urge youth to expose political corruption, and take to the streets in protest, and stage sit-ins and boycotts, she vaguely urges Vogue Teens to "stand up" to the same  euphemized "challenges" that are the spawn of the neoliberal project itself.

Just as these politicians start and fight wars and terror by starting new wars and fighting new terror, so too do they fight the ravages of their own neoliberalism by simply mutating their cult of socially responsible greed into newer, ever more malignant forms.
A smart former U.S. president—who happens to be my husband—once said there is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America. I couldn’t agree more. And your generation embodies everything that is most right with America. By harnessing your energy and ideas, we can solve many of the problems we face. So whether you’re already working hard to change the world or just starting out, here are three things you can do right now to make your voice heard.
Oh goody. No trendy article can ever be complete without a listicle embedded right within it. 

And it's so good to know that Hubby Bill, architect of neoliberalism that he was, admits that third term Clinton policy will entail curing the ravages of neoliberalism (NAFTA, end of cash welfare to the poor, repeal of Glass Steagall, enabling corrupt telecoms) with even more of the same. (stay tuned for TPP and a plethora of privatization schemes and even more surveillance and aggression.) 
First: Find something you care about, and fight for it. For me, that issue has always been helping kids and families. But from civil rights to gender equality to Internet freedom, young people have spurred major change when they get involved and take the lead. I can’t think of a single issue facing our country or our world that wouldn’t be better off with more of you bright and committed women and men speaking out and taking action.
For example, too many of you are starting your lives struggling right off the bat, trying to pay for college or graduating saddled with debt. It would be all too easy for politicians to turn a blind eye to this problem. But instead you’re coming forward to share your experiences and calling on elected officials to take on the skyrocketing cost of college and do something about increasingly high loan rates. You’re taking bold steps to make higher education more affordable—but there’s a lot more work to do, and we need your help.
Another prime tenet of neoliberalism is to insist that the lesser people all have "skin in the game." Just don't expect Hillary, all-powerful leader of the free world, to take the lead. You have to make/help her do it. Meanwhile, though, please do share your experiences. Vent all you want. Be aware that she herself makes no promises for immediate relief. This stuff takes years.... generations.... centuries. There's always more work to do. The work is both the means and the end. Bootstraps!
Second: Learn from those who disagree with you. I grew up in a house with lots of opinions. My father was a Republican and my mother was basically a Democrat, although she didn’t talk much about politics. Being surrounded by diverse ideas shaped my view of the world. It might not seem like it sometimes, but we can disagree without being disagreeable. In fact, we need to have difficult conversations—that’s how progress is made. So seek out others who see issues differently from you. Challenge yourself to understand their perspectives, and encourage them to understand yours. I promise you’ll learn something new from conversations like these. I do all the time.
Why are Simon and Garfunkel crooning in my head right about now? Oh, right, it's that other tenet of neoliberalism: distract the proles with some touchy-feely stuff. You'll get student debt relief by simply talking it through, like intensive therapy - assuming that your high deductible Bronze Obamacare Plan actually pays for even a minute of it. Yes we speak of things that matter, with words that must be said. Can analysis be worthwhile? Is the theater really dead?

Why do politicians always insist that legislation for the public good is impossible without dinner table discussions among people who have absolutely no power?

Clintonoid neoliberalism foists most of the responsibility on individuals by forcing "empowering" them to make choices within a narrow market framework, and achieve limited results while the government stands benignly by as a "partner," rather than as a direct agent of social change and improvement. It stresses resilience and adaptation to the forces of globalization and the ensuing job losses and wage suppression and labor union destruction that it helped to create. To speak out against this is to be like Donald Trump: a protectionist and anti-modernist, if not downright anti-American.

Neoliberals always deny that they are ideologues. Rather, they argue for "what works" and "best practices." So, please get with the program of your government leaders acting more like office managers whose prime concerns are the bottom line, the shareholders, and the customers.

Hillary boasts that she grew up in a household full of diverse opinions, even though only her reactionary bully of a father was ever allowed to talk. I wish she'd be honest and admit that her mother and all the kids were the victims of domestic emotional, if not physical, abuse. I think she is still challenging herself to come to terms with that perspective.I think that might be why she feels so compelled to reach out to neocon war criminals the way she does. They're bullies.
Third: Vote, and inspire others to vote too. Maybe you’ve heard that one before. That’s because our democracy works best when everyone has a voice. Even if you can’t yet cast a ballot, talk with your friends, family, and neighbors. Make sure they are registered by your state’s deadline and turn out to the polls when Election Day comes. It’s easy to get discouraged by the influence of special interests in our political system, but remember: Everyone gets one vote on Election Day. If you’re frustrated with the state of politics—and plenty of people are—think about what we could accomplish if everyone who was eligible to vote actually did.
If Hillary were honest, she would admit that voting every two or four years does little to nothing to ease frustration, despair, and want. If she were honest, she'd urge her youthful readers to pick up a copy of Affluence and Influence by Martin Gilens, who proved that it's usually only the wealthy political donor class that gets what it wants.  If she were honest, she'd stop accepting donations from lobbyists and billionaires in order to eventually do what they want.

Think about how much you could accomplish if you weren't simply viewed, or were taught to view yourself, as nothing but an adaptable unit of value.

Hillary doesn't actually need or want the votes of young people. But every little bit helps. She'll win, regardless, but she wants to win by a more sizeable mandate than the one she's likely to get, what with her abysmally low approval rating.
I know many of you didn’t vote for me in the primaries. But no matter who you supported—whether it was me, Senator Bernie Sanders, or another candidate—I’m going to keep working hard to earn your trust. I’m not taking anything for granted. The stakes in this election are higher than ever. We have to come together to build an America that reflects the values your generation embodies—diversity, openness, innovation—and stop those who want to take us in a very different direction. Your age group is the largest American generation living today. That gives you a lot of power and even more responsibility. I know you’re up to it. People like Britain and Donovan are proving that every day.
If Hillary really means what she says about openness and innovation, and earning trust, then she'll insist that the Green Party (Jill Stein) and Libertarian Party (Gary Johnson) candidates be included in all the presidential debates, regardless of their standing in the polls.

She's right. The stakes in this election are higher than ever. We must ensure that Joseph Stiglitz's proclamation that neoliberalism is dead comes to actual fruition.

Hillary should be able to gracefully retire in order to spend more time with her money. Chelsea and Ivanka should be able to end their fake family feud and once again pose together in the pages of Vogue and Glamour.

The Creatives: If Our Brands Can Do It, Your Brands Can Do It!

Maureen Dowd wrote another fun Trump column in the New York Times, this one about Ivanka's Dad's recent non-apology tour, listing all his minima culpas in more or less chronological order in the form of an "open letter" to voters. I'm sorry about this, that and the other, yada yada yada. Not. LOL.

How much more of this can we take? Speaking only for myself, not very much. Here's my published response: 
 An Open Letter to America from the Media-Political Complex:

- We're sorry that we keep giving the Trump monster that we ourselves created more than a billion dollars' worth of free advertising time.

- We're sorry that since the USA is now an oligarchy, and six media conglomerates own 90% of everything that you see and read, broadcasting in the public interest is as dead as a door-nail.

- We're sorry that Trump's real estate empire has now been permanently extended, rent-free, to the upper left-hand corner of the Times homepage.

- We're sorry the US government is under the control of the unfettered and unregulated capitalist predators who make the laws to ensure that tax-evading Trump and his billionaire cohort not only have a negative effective tax rate, they also get generous refunds from Uncle Sam. They're too big to fail, too important to jail.

- We're sorry that our endless coverage of Neoliberal Death Match 2016 has either upstaged or entirely pre-empted news of record floods, record heat, record fires, the Zika epidemic, record maternal death rates, record inequality and all other topics affecting regular people in their everyday lives.

- We're sorry that we keep feeding you shallow celebrity click-bait, and fake-outraged Trump columns, and war-as-entertainment, and scandals, keeping you alternately sedated, confused, mad, and terrorized.

- We're sorry excuses for journalists and pundits and broadcasters.

- And we will never change.



annenigma said...

Good stuff, Karen.

A couple of Hillary's words drew my attention: 'harness' and 'driven'. It sounds like she'd like to harness those driven young people and hitch them to her wagon to pull her to the White House. I'm picturing draft horses - strong, patient, docile beasts of burden.

Hillary encourages young people to vote but not to run for office. In other words, stand up and stand still so they can get your harness on, but for God's sake, don't dare run! Leave that to them, the wise and wealthy elders.

Of course if Hillary encouraged young people to run for office, she might have to mention that incumbents have an insider edge called MONEY. 95% of Representatives win re-election with a $1.6 million average advantage vs. $286,000 for challengers.

Along the lines of teen spirit, Bernie rolls out his shiny new 'Our Revolution' ride this week. His new job will be Driving Miss Daisy in it. She's been riding around in Scoobie Doo but realized awhile back that it wasn't going over with the youth, so she's now waiting for Bernie to pick her up. It's going to be a promotion from Bernie's former job as sheep-dogging for Hillary but we'll have to wait and see if he knows how to drive it or if he just sits there collecting fare with the engine running like he did after endorsing Hillary but not dropping out of the race.

Btw, the 'Our Revolution' website and 501(c()4) non-profit organization hasn't officially been launched yet, but the DONATION BUTTON for it has.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Interesting that Karen's comment following Dowd's op-ed is miles and miles ahead (2531 votes) of the silver and bronze comments. Could mean many NYT readers aren't that impressed or amused by The Gray Lady's endless Trump bashing, from front-page news story to last-page opinion piece, and are more focused on the sorry items Karen listed.

High disapproval ratings for Trump and Clinton persist. Is MSM propaganda helping Hillary that much? Will enough disapprovers take the next step and vote Third Party? Will we be gratefully amazed by the count against the Duopoly after the polls close on November 8? Or are we just kidding ourselves?

Elizabeth Adams said...

Clinton's words, as with most politicians' (including Obama's), are a bunch of purposefully vague fluff. The catchy phrases and rhetoric are much like the highly processed crap in our grocery stores -- altered from its natural state and devoid of nutrients. Our bodies and minds have been starved too long by the status quo political process, which is why the frank, cut-the-crap language of Sanders and Stein have been eaten up by the masses in this election cycle.

Kat said...

Lowering your expectations and consoling yourself that you have enough "grit" and "resilience" to cancel out your misery is, after all, one of the prime selling points of Neoliberalism.

Do you really think that is one of the prime selling points of neoliberalism? When I think of neoliberalism it is more in the vein of everyone is a free agent. The buzzwords that set me off are "choice" (the more the better! All we need is all that "transparent" information), change (we must embrace it), and risk (risk takers prosper).
I'm not sure I believe there is a special Clinton style variety of neoliberalism.

voice-in-wilderness said...

Hillary (and Bill) know that voters are screwed. They are faced with evil (Trump) and lesser evil (Hillary), or making a symbolic wasted vote (Johnson or Stein or one of numerous write-ins). There is about as much chance of this changing in my lifetime as there is of holding a Higgs boson in the palm of my hand! I've revived "Gotterdammerung" as part of my vocabulary!

Bill Sprague said...

Nice!!! I have removed the permalink to your blog from my browser since you tend to shriek and get shrill but this is really good! Karen Garcia can really write!!!!

pissing-into-the-wind said...

Given the other choices, we could do worse than to promote "Duke," a nine-year-old Great Pyrenees, from mayor of Cormorant, MN, to president of these United States...

Mark Portier said...

Karen, NPR just announced that they're shutting down the public comment section that appears after the stories they post on their website. I don't think it's a coincidence that this is happening after a primary season where hundreds of progressive watchdogs jumped on every pro-Clinton/establishment piece NPR published, seconds after those stories appeared. I hope this isn't a sign of The Times to come. I discovered Sardonicky through your Times comments, which continue to be a powerful, necessary counterweight to what passes for news and opinion on their website. Please keep your stick sharp and stay relentless. Thank you for what you do.