While the capitalist system has undergone numerous restructurings throughout its history, the capitalist elites’ purpose in elaborating these changes has remained the same: to restore and/or extend their hegemony over domestic class and global challengers. The current systemic designation, operative since 1978, is “neoliberalism,” deployed to obfuscate what in actuality is US imperialism and domestic class warfare.
Analysis of the actual compass of these policies has remained truncated, focused on fiscal policy and austerity to the exclusion of the economy’s monetary, trade, finance, and industrial dimensions. Furthermore, an examination of the causal relations between neoliberal economic policy evolution and changes in the US political system is lacking. This book seeks to address these lacunae.
The Scourge of Neoliberalism describes the origins and evolution of the specifically American form of Neoliberalism. Its expansionary phase—from 1978 to 2008—was disrupted by the global crash and crisis of 2008-09 and was only partially restored by the Obama regime thereafter. Trump’s attempt to resuscitate Neoliberalism has led to the emergence of a new, more aggressive and virulent form which, despite some gains, is nonetheless a destabilizing policy regimen destined to break down with the next global economic crisis, which is likely occur by 2020.
The political consequences of US neoliberal policy evolution and restoration efforts have led, on the one hand, to the breakdown of government institutions, the decline of mainstream political parties, the atrophy of democratic practices, rights and values, and attacks on civil liberties, and on the other to the embedding of the Neoliberal credo that business tax cuts create jobs, free trade benefits all, low interest rates generate investment, entitlement programs are the cause of government deficits, markets are always efficient, recessions are caused by external shocks to an otherwise stable equilibrium system, and similar empirically unverifiable propositions.
In describing the evolution of Neoliberal policies from Reagan through Clinton, the Bushes, Obama, and Trump presidencies, Rasmus shows how they have played a central enabling role in the financialization of the US capitalist economy, in its ever-growing income and wealth inequality gaps, and in the increasing polarization of US society and polity.