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Recommended reading: Religion and neoliberalism

James Chappel reviews four books in the Boston Review that dig into the link between neoliberalism and religious institutions. I found this piece enlightening just from its perspective on the rise of neoliberalism in general. The idea that neoliberalism is merely “sophisticated common sense” explains its common appeal… just like religion.

Below are a number of choice quotes from the piece, but I recommend reading the entire thing.

“A specter is haunting the academy—the specter of neoliberalism. In response to assaults on racial, gender, and economic equality, scholars from multiple disciplines are turning to neoliberalism as the culprit.”

This is the conclusion I have come to with regards to tech.

“For Brown, neoliberalism is more than an economic doctrine—more than the increasing domination of finance capital alongside the new hegemony of precarious labor. … It is more devious than that — ‘more termitelike than lionlike’ — and finds its truest expression in ‘sophisticated common sense’: the practices and institutions that govern our daily lives. She defines neoliberalism as a “political rationality” and is most concerned with the ways in which it dissolves our capacity for citizenship by recasting the political subject as an inveterate entrepreneur.”

Not being a standard ideology with identifiable proponents, makes it hard to nail down. After wishing for a catalogue of political ideology in Silicon Valley a couple of years, and exploring the possibility of an information-centric political philosophy the before that, in the past year I have finally gotten the eyes to see the ideological framework at play. And it has opened my eyes to so much more.

“The neoliberal turn unravels the notion, dear to liberal political economists, that the logic of the marketplace should not be allowed to govern social life as such. Adam Smith was one such political economist; he understood exchange as a limited facet of the human experience. For him, production and exchange were rooted in the more primordial human capacities of reason, community, and speech. He did not, in other words, extend the logic of the marketplace beyond its limited sphere. That idea is more recent, and while certain neoliberal economists seek to claim Smith and his like for their lineage, Brown suggests that these theorists would have been appalled at the contemporary zeal for market imperialism.”

Tales of a market fundamentalist.

“The idea that faith-based organizations are legitimate mechanisms of welfare delivery has become neoliberal common sense…”

Classic off-setting of risks and responsibilities.

“[neoliberalism] dissolves ‘all forms of social solidarity’ in favor of ‘individualism, private property, personal responsibility, and family values.’”

Atomization. People try to apply the label of libertarianism, but many disregard that at fringe. The truth is neoliberalism lies unnoticed in the shadow of libertarianism.

Read the whole thing: A Servant Heart — How Neoliberalism Came to Be by James Chappel, Boston Review