Liberalism’s present-day crisis is not new; since its invention in the 17th century, liberalism has been repeatedly challenged by thick communitarians on the right and progressive egalitarians on the left. Liberalism properly understood is perfectly compatible with communitarian impulses and has been the basis for the flourishing of deep and diverse forms of civil society. It is also compatible with the social justice aims of progressives: One of its greatest achievements was the creation of modern redistributive welfare states in the late 20th century. Liberalism’s problem is that it works slowly through deliberation and compromise, and never achieves its communal or social justice goals as completely as their advocates would like. But it is hard to see how the discarding of liberal values is going to lead to anything in the long term other than increasing social conflict and ultimately a return to violence as a means of resolving differences.
After more than four decades of dominance, free-market capitalism is facing a challenge.
It’s rival, the rather blandly named Modern Monetary Theory, promises to return economic planning to a less ideological footing.
It’s also keen to strike a blow against the “surplus fetish” that many economists now blame for declining public services and growing inequality.
Progressive capitalism is not an oxymoron. Rather, it is the most viable and vibrant alternative to an ideology that has clearly failed. As such, it represents the best chance we have of escaping our current economic and political malaise.
Michael’s big moral surveillance apparatus is a correction, or perhaps update, of Sartre: hell isn’t other people, it’s neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is the practice of transforming everything, even traditionally non-economic phenomena like friendship or learning, into deregulated, financialized markets. Financialized markets are ones built on investment rather than commodity exchange; deregulated markets nominally allow for any and all behavior, but tightly control background conditions so that only a limited range of behavior is possible. Privatizing formerly public things such as infrastructure or schools or prisons is a common method of transforming things into markets. Setting up the season 1 neighborhood so that the quartet of dead people torture each other, Michael is a technocrat who effectively privatizes hell by contracting the work of abuse out to independent, uncompensated laborers. (After all, his whole approach is to disrupt eternal damnation by superficially flipping the good/bad script…It’s Uber, but for hell.)
Doug Belshaw explores some of the different iterations of neoliberalism, arguing that none of them are the answer:
We might be witnessing the end of progressive neoliberalism, but it’s not as if that’s being replaced by anything different, anything better. source