The Issue with Neoliberalism: a Traditional Conservative Critique | Albert Bikaj
Recognizing the disastrous history of totalitarian regimes, R. Reagan and M. Thatcher minimized the government and promoted the free market, thinking they would give more liberty to the individual and prevent the rise of totalitarianism. But evidently, they had ‘forgotten’ about the existence of mega-corporations—that grew big enough to fill up the governments’ place/role, in which they systematically impose certain ideologies, and of course, exploit and oppress the Middle and Working classes. Their idea of individualism, of course, had gone too far, at a point which one may think they had forgotten about the existence of common good and society—whose existence Thatcher and a few neoconservative thinkers and politicians had begun to deny.
If one thinks deeply, the concept of the neoliberal Free Market is quite nihilistic and indifferent in its nature. The idea of ethics, common good, and culture doesn’t seem to bother it at all, and this is not hard to be understood. For the simplest reason, its creed and motto, beginning and end, is and remains: P R O F I T. “The customer is always right” – they say; isn’t this one of the most nihilistic claims ever made? Think about it. In practice, its only goal and motivation is profit, the market must offer everything the consumer asks for, regardless of ethics and values. Why? Because the neoliberal economic value is popularity, and if one dares to say, stupidity and vulgarity as well. We’re witnesses of it, nowadays everything is on sale and nothing seems to have a real value. Regarding the treatment of culture, human rights, ecology, racism, and migration we can see the best examples.
Culture and religion
Ever since the French Revolution, hostility towards the Christian creed in the West hasn’t really stopped. In fact, now it’s rising again with similar intensity, if not worse. Christianity, for them, is considered regressive, harmful, and even, at certain points, evil — the cause of most problems and [Christians] as part of the problem. Just like in the past, it was attacked in the name of rationalism and nationalism; now in the name of ‘progress’. And if not adapted to the current neoliberal trends, Christians become considered as the yesterdays and contemporary bigots and oppressors. Western culture and orthodox Christianity as its basis are systematically demonized by several but powerful media, NGOs, and even educational institutions. And such demonization, even desecration and attack on churches now has been accepted. The Gibbonian historiography is still alive in people’s minds. In fact, it’s making a comeback. Of course, the selective historical truth of this narrative is twisted, but the truth is the last thing they care about. Prejudice towards other religions is unacceptable, yet for orthodox Christianity, there are different rules. In the end, one comes to the conclusion that G.K. Chesterton made a long time ago, they call their hatred for Christianity love for all other religions. And the motive behind it is because Christianity is the only thing that is still preventing them from demolishing ethical values– and after having them demolished completely, the others won’t be spared either if they don’t accept the contemporary trends which are the neoliberal’s creed. Be it anti-religious secularism, scientism, gender ideologies, emotionalism, hedonism, New Age, and of course materialism. Overall, the creed of the age has become the unquestionable standard and orthodoxy, that everyone is expected to accept. Part of the cultural downfall is the devaluation of the Liberal Arts, caused by the market system which considers it “unpractical” and “useless”; and on the other hand, ‘accepting’ the new dogma uncritically.
Corporations, ‘the great promoters of feminism and equal gender values’, punish or even fire their female employees for getting pregnant ‘without having it planned’. On the other hand, they successfully promote, sell and impose another ‘option’, which they even present as an attractive solution, a symbol of liberation from patriarchy and empowerment: infanticide, or as they call it, being ‘pro-choice’. Thus, they denigrate the role and value of motherhood and family by convincing their students/employees of the aforementioned ideas – and end up converting them, unconsciously, into worshippers, if not slaves, of Moloch. The same rule applies when it comes to the exploration/dehumanization of women and misogyny; prostitution and pornography have converted into “sex work” and “a right”— just as long as there is profit out of it. All of this resembles the ‘ideal’ Pagan Patriarchy. In short, they will promote every woman’s right except the one which God, or as some prefer to say ‘Nature’, granted them and nobody should dare to deny: the dignity of motherhood. Therefore, women and the family in general, are at the stake.
Nature and ecology
It is undeniable that, at its best, partially, the current ecological situation is not good, and it has been a consequence of neoliberal economics. Nature has been and keeps being exploited recklessly by mega-corporations – that are at the same time the main profiteers, as well. Thousands of forests and green areas have been demolished; the situation with the waters, especially with rivers is pretty much similar. Many rivers, from all around the World, have been cemented and polluted by governmental and private initiatives. The air has been polluted by various factories and other experimental weapon testing, and as a consequence, it’s not a surprise that it may have resulted in climate change. Yet, many self-identified Conservatives, who seem to be loyal to the aforementioned economics, stripped off Christianity, deny the climate issue, and when it comes to the environment, they don’t seem to care much, because for them such cases are either “made up” or Left-wing activities. And if you ask me, the term ‘conservative’ for such thinkers/politicians becomes an oxymoron, because the very essence of conservatism is conserving the valuable institutions, ideas, and things, among which the environment has great importance. Because in the end, for Conservatives, at least for the traditional ones (like E. Burke, H. Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, R. Scruton, etc.), the reason for conserving the aforementioned things are not only for ourselves but for future generations, for our descendants. On the other hand, there is a transcendental and theological argument and warning to take care of the environment, presented vocally by the Catholic Church since 1971, and continuing up today by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. The Church has interpreted the environment exploitation not only as self-destruction but as a sin against God and his creation, as well!
The next example can be seen when it comes to race and racial issues. Mega-corporates are the first to show support for even the most irrational trends, including the neo-Marxist protests or racist campaigns in the past, for this simple reason: it’s popular, and they’re going to profit from it. So, in the past, racism was popular — they promoted it; now that, thank God, it is no longer acceptable, they will condemn it, but not because it’s wrong, but because it’s harmful to their business. Yet, racism is now promoted in other forms. If yesterday it was said that ‘White people’ are ‘superior’, today they say pretty much the same, by calling it a privilege and taking once again the position of self-righteous ‘leader’ and ‘educator’ for the minorities. Giving lectures on how a certain ethnic group should think vote and act. As we have witnessed this summer, by supporting the riots, many corporations have succeeded to protect themselves, still many fail to see this, including our Left-Wing friends, who don’t realize that during the BLM ‘protests’, the small business ended up being damaged, some of them even collapsed. In the meantime, the very same ‘anti-racist’ corporations predominantly own factories in Third World countries, especially in Africa and Asia (including the Chinese ones), where workers are not only paid ridiculously but also the terrible conditions and environment where they work. Similar things can be found even at Western European and Northern American factories, where the main workers are the minority.
Migration & humanism
The case for massive migration is a serious political and ethical issue and at the same time, quite controversial. It has to be said, tourists and not refugees have a favorite destination; everything a refugee wants is to find shelter, a safe place to stay. But that’s another topic which is not necessary to open here.
Many so-called Conservatives (who are, economically speaking, neoliberals) and the Social-Democrats have a similar approach, even though they have differences in managing it. Countries like Germany, led by a neoliberal party (CDU), have accepted millions of migrants in the name of noble humanism & multiculturalism— this of course hasn’t passed without outrageous reactions from the right and far-right—which are often considered to be the same thing. Meanwhile, the difference is crucial; the far-right is obsessed with race, which is very unlike the traditional Conservative concern: order and safety—that are undeniably realistic critiques.
Both, political and social order are in danger when a country is faced with a massive refugee crisis; on the other hand, the safety of both sides is at stake. After all, it’s utterly immoral to use unfortunate refugees to achieve political and economical goals. In the end, politicians who, ironically, happen to have caused the crisis, some directly by advocating interventionist and unrealistic political revolutions in the Middle East, and others indirectly by simply not opposing such ideas, are among the most vocal Social Justice Warriors and self-proclaimed humanists. Of course, beyond the layer of ‘humanism’, one can see the main reason behind it: cheap and marginalized labour that will vitalize the government economically. All of this is done without caring about the consequences. The reality of the current ‘standards,’ can be classified as unaccepting and very hostile to those who do not agree with them. The non-Western minorities are faced with it, just like many conservatives; end up getting marginalized but in different ways. Often leading to exiling into extremism – be it religious for the former, or political far-right for the latter. They typical neoliberal goes further, by denying the consequences of their ‘failed’ social-engineering, by considering the unfortunate refugees as [uneducated] children and exploiting them as cheap labour. Against these abuses, it’s worth to mention Pope Benedict XVI and his African intellectual disciple, Cardinal Robert Sarah, who undoubtedly condemn racism and exploitation, and when it comes to mass migration say there is a right to not migrate as well, and rather embrace the duty to work to build and bring order and prosperity at one’s homeland. Pope Francis, on the other hand, has shown important concern on criticizing the dehumanization and abuse of migrants by both, politicians and corporations.
A Catholic and conservative conclusion
We often hear some populist conservatives and generally more the far-right ones, blaming the chaotic situation on various insane conspiracies, and of course, the so-called “Cultural Marxism” whose real name is neoliberalism. And we shouldn’t be scared to criticize it, it’s a grave mistake to think it’s a Marxist thing. For sure, there is a Marxist critique of neoliberalism, but time has shown it to be, if not irrelevant, a dangerous, bloody, and unwanted experiment – if totalitarianism can be called such.
In conclusion, the promoters and apologists of radical ideologies, be it the old Marxists or the new neoliberals, both tend to forget that rights, common sense, a realistic utopia, and wishful thinking are different things. Late British philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton, recognized the issue of free-market/neoliberalism, and among it, stressed the need for a reasonable limit, on the contrary, it will put the sacred things at great risk. Among them, he listed the unborn, family, environment, and liberty, things which cannot be traded in the market, because they’re priceless! His critique seems to have been considered by the contemporary dominantly de-Christianised thought as ‘old-fashioned’, ‘unpopular’, and therefore ignored. And about this, Pope Benedict XVI often has stated that what is destroying our civilization, society, and even our souls, is the new form of totalitarianism, the dictatorship of relativism! And this ideology is alive and strong thanks to the economic neoliberal ideology, which knows no ethics, no limit, no border – and in the end, no sense. The diagnosis that the two last Popes have given us is terrifying. For them, this is not only a sign of apostasy but rather a consequence of it. A clear sign that the contemporary human, by forgetting his/her own creator, has forgotten the concept of sacredness and sin; humans seem to have forgotten their nature, let alone their origin gifted by God. And as we can see, stripped of it, human beings’ last action is apocalyptic, but not in the classical sense, rather as slow self-destruction.