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Neoliberalism and its Discontents: Platypus 2017 International Convention

A pre-convention panel put on Thursday, April 6, 2017 at UIC, from 6-8 pm. Moderated by Gregor Baszak.

Speakers

Catherine Liu (University of California, Irvine)
Pam Nogales (PhD. Candidate of American History, NYU; Platypus)
Danny Jacobs (PhD. Candidate of Economics, University of Houston; Platypus)
Dan Rudin (PhD. Candidate of Journalism and Media Studies, UCSC; Platypus)
Reid Kotlas (Socialist Party USA; Platypus)

Description

Leftists today lament the strength of neoliberal hegemony. The use of “hegemony” underlines the ideological dimension of the neoliberal order; it suggests that mass ideological legitimacy — and not the triumph of pure force or of back-door machinations — has made neoliberalism politically possible. What were the ideological shifts in political and social consciousness that provided the grounds for neoliberal hegemony? What role did the Left play in this historical transformation of mass consciousness?

Freedom, the rallying cry of socialism, has now served for decades as the stated ideology of the upward redistribution of wealth. These past decades have seen stagnating wages and a widening income disparity—although women, LGBT people, people of color, and others who once faced legally enforced, identity-based social exclusion now appear to be more “free” than they were during the pre-neoliberal period of high Fordism. These two aspects of neoliberalism, its identitarian inclusiveness and its anti-working class agenda, appear to go hand-in-hand. Despite the dubious, partial success of the politics of the New Left, we are probably as far as ever from the goal of global socialism.

In light of this history, how can we imagine a future for the Left, especially in the Age of Trump? How could the Left move beyond organizing the expression of frustrated expectations within neoliberalism — beyond organizing the left wing of neoliberalism itself — to generate the kind of theory and practice required to politically overcome capitalism? And are we already in the process of overcoming neoliberalism in the wake of Trump’s recent political mandate for change? Has the Left become the agent of the status quo, seeking to preserve neoliberalism from uncertain changes that the Trump phenomenon implies?

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