Neoliberalism is Dead. Long Live Neoliberalism.
The Regime is not collapsing. The battle has only just begun.
This is the second piece in my “effective populism” series. Read the introduction to the series here. I will try to keep this short as many of these themes will be expanded on in later pieces.
No, the regime is not collapsing. It is declining, and it has revealed certain weaknesses, but it also may now pose an even greater threat as it consolidates power and lashes out at challengers. It is entirely possible that the regime exits this crisis with a stronger grip on power over a demoralized and disillusioned populace. If we do not want that to happen, action must be taken.
The challenge presented to us is that Blue Empire is circling the wagons around their control of formal power. Hence all the deplatforming and Patriot Act 2.0.
The solution will not come fast enough through formal channels. Formal political power will play a role in any effective populism, but the solution to Blue Empire must be centered around parallel societies. It is only through these networks of alternative institutions that we can generate the needed extra-political solution to our current woes.
The Challenge: Blue Empire Circles the Wagons
It is important to distinguish between an underlying power structure and the ideology that is used to justify that power structure. The answer to “why does this power structure exist” is an important component of a society’s social contract. It explains what matters to society, and why that is important.
The overlaid ideology truly transfigures the power structure: the structure transforms from a brute fact to a legitimate system, justified by a higher ‘Good’ than mere Power. Furthermore, the ideology we use to determine answers to questions like “who deserves what” and “what is a ‘good life’” can transform the underlying network, either through the agency of individuals with shifted preferences or through physical opposition to the current Power centers.
Of course, saying “The Emperor has no clothes” may very well get you killed by the Emperor’s forces (especially if you have no one to back you up against those forces). But breaking “false consciousness” is an important part in smashing open a possibility space that was previously limited.
The collapse of the justifying ideology is like lifting the curtain, or revealing the gaps in the armor of the power structure. No one has landed an arrow in one of those gaps yet, but very few acknowledged they were there to begin with.
Now, it is CRITICAL to note that there is a difference between fragility and weakness as we use them in day to day life:
Weakness is bringing a knife to a gun fight.
Fragility is bringing a glass cannon to a knife fight.
The cannon is significantly stronger than the knife, but it is also far more fragile. That is what we see here: a consolidation/circling the wagons of the underlying power structure in the face of the collapse of the ideology that justified its existence. Blue Empire may be able to rebuild its armor, and shelter itself (that is the promise of circling the wagons and viciously lashing out at challengers); however, we still have an opportunity presented to us, perhaps one that we haven’t had in ~50 years, to undermine the current system and build up a new one.
Make no mistake: the system will not be reformed from the inside. If it is to be reformed, it will be reformed through external pressure, either via alternative institutions or through violence. While one should always prepare for the worst, and most people likely should be armed and trained in wielding weapons and self defense, I still hope for a non-violent solution. I have no experience in military matters, and so if that is your interest, there are others who have far more to give you than I can. Instead, I will focus on what I have experience in and believe presents a solution: building new institutions and networking them to construct full parallel societies to challenge Blue Empire from the outside.
In other words, we’re changing the game. We can’t play by Blue Empire’s rules: they set up those rules so that they would have constant advantages. As Herb Brooks/Kurt Russell says in Miracle, “you don’t have enough talent, to win on talent alone.” You can’t play their game: you have to change it.
The Solution: Parallel Societies
Populist politicians will play a role, but they will largely be defensive until they have the institutional strength to back them up. Remember: Blue Empire is largely an extrz-formal set of organizations. They control formal power because they are organized and powerful, which of course means they use formal government to grant themselves more power in a vicious cycle.
So what can be done? What must the core of our opposition to Blue Empire be?
In effect, networks of alternative institutions that cover major areas of society:
Information/socialization, belonging/peer groups, sufficiency/survival, material well-being, etc. These are the core elements of society. A parallel society must produce networks and institutions that fulfill all of these needs outside the institutions controlled by Blue Empire. You may already have some of these institutions in your town. There may be some ripe for a takeover. You may need to build entire new ones. But this is the core of what must be done.
Yes, this crisis may end in violence. Yes, you should probably learn how to use a gun and be ready for the worst. But I maintain hope that we can resolve this crisis without bloodshed, and that we may be able to recover a vitality to lead our country into a better age. Perhaps I am being foolish and naïve. Alas, I am rather young. Maybe my youth has deluded me. But I am not wholly ready to give in to cynicism or irony just yet. I have built institutions myself and seen them grow into something meaningful that improves the lives of others and the community. This is why I stress:
Do not give in to despair. There is much worth saving in this world. Not all is lost. There are no blackpills. There is just the work that must be done. Godspeed to us all. Much love, my friends.
Hope you guys enjoyed. Tried to just clarify how I see the current crisis here.
Had to delay the post on trust until next week because I didn’t have the time to complete my research even with a good friend helping me. Will post that soon.
I will see you all next week.