In this episode of his TeleSUR show, “Days of Revolt,” Chris Hedges sits down with author John Ralston Saul to talk about neoliberalism as an ideology, the lack of real political debate today and what our future holds.

“First of all you know what’s astonishing is that neoliberalism has nothing to do with 19th century liberalism,” explains Saul, author of “Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West.” “In other countries, the same thing is called neoconservatism, which has absolutely nothing to do with conservatism. So, in both cases, it’s one of those, you know, stealing, going behind the curtains and pretending you’re something you’re not in order to calm people down. ‘We’re just a new kind of conservative. We’re just a new kind of liberal.’ When, in fact, they’re neither. They’ve nothing to do with either.”

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“I think that the word ‘ideology’ has to be used very carefully,” Saul goes on. “But when people come forward with rather simplistic truths — you already know you’re in trouble when they say they’ve got the truth — and they say: ‘This is what must happen. This is how things work. This is what dominates society.’ That’s an ideology. We have thousands of years of experience. We know what an ideology is. A declaration of inevitability and a declaration of truth are two characteristics of an ideology. It’s a form of religion.”

Today’s society has made the idea of the marketplace the most important, Saul says. That, combined with an advancing technocracy, has led to a reduction in serious political debate and ideas.

“You write in one of the books, I think it might be ‘The Unconscious Civilization,’ that the inevitable consequence of this impoverishment of political and intellectual debate is the false populist, the Donald Trumps,” Hedges says.

“These people become possible once the mainstream structure of inclusion has been destroyed,” Saul explains. “In a sense, I always feel that the population — because you have to believe in the collective unconscious; if you don’t, you can’t believe in democracy — the population knows how difficult and slow it is to make things happen. How do you get 350 million people to find a direction? How do you do that? It doesn’t happen overnight. Only dictators believe you can do it fast.”

“But where are we going?” Hedges asks later. “And we may not be going anywhere good. I mean, we may be going toward a more authoritarian. … You talk about this false populism, in the ’30s it was called fascism. What worries you?”

Watch the video below to find out:

Posted by Jenna Berbeo

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