During the 2016 election season, presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both have been accused of being agents of neoliberalism. But what is neoliberalism?

In a recent appearance on RT, Henry Giroux, social theorist and author of the new book, “America at War With Itself,” defines neoliberalism as an “economic and political policy” that empowers “elites … to consolidate political and economic power in their own interests.”

“It operates off the assumption that markets should not just govern the economy, but govern all of social life,” Giroux adds.

It believes that the market is basically the answer to solving all problems, that profit-making is basically the essence of democracy, that the only obligation of citizenship is consumerism. It celebrates the values of privatization, deregulation and consumption. It suggests that businesses should regulate themselves. It argues that self-interest is the highest ideal with respect in some way to addressing the common good. It has a deep disdain for public goods, for the common good. It operates off the assumption that competition in a kind of shock-like mode of interaction is the only way to really survive in society. It embraces a kind of warlike assumption regarding social relations, meaning that the best way to get ahead is to pit oneself with each other.

Readers can quibble over the extent to which Hillary Clinton, for instance, aggressively champions or passively tolerates neoliberalism’s dominance over the decision-making processes that shape American life. The upshot is that neither candidate has given America reason to believe they will strive to return to the public the power that neoliberalism gives to elites.

READ: Henry Giroux’s Donald Trump and the Plague of Atomization in a Neoliberal Age

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly

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