The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Buzzword Alert: ‘Neoliberalism’

Posted on | December 4, 2018 | Comments Off on Buzzword Alert: ‘Neoliberalism’

Over the weekend, transgender activists sent out a hoax email falsely claiming that radical feminist Meghan Murphy had cancelled her scheduled Jan. 10 talk at the Vancouver Public Library. Some Canadian outlets were deceived by that email, didn’t bother checking with either Murphy or the library, and ran with the false story.

While I was at Ms. Murphy’s Feminist Current website checking that story, I noticed they had published an article by British academic Heather Brunskell-Evans entitled “A neoliberal concept of freedom has allowed gender identity ideology to take hold,” which begins thus:

Neoliberalism is the political philosophy (of the left and the right) that was developed in the West during the 1980s as populist “common-sense.” It has several problems:

1) It regards the individual as an autonomous agent, primarily motivated by self-interest;
2) It tells us the unregulated free-market economy alleviates social inequalities;
3) It describes personal freedom in terms of the individual’s ability to “choose” in a market place of choices.

What is wrong with this neoliberal, economistic view of the human being? It is reductive. As well as being individual agents, human beings are also located in psychological, social, and political contexts that render our autonomy and inter-relationship with others more complex than such an ideology allows.

Permit me to register my protest against this word, which was coined in the past 15 or 20 years by the progressive Left (the kind of people who take Noam Chomsky seriously) as analogous to “neoconservative.” The purpose of the word “neoliberal” is to discredit anyone on the Left who would compromise with the Right. People who use this word mean to say that if you are not an outright socialist, you are a “neoliberal.”

Professor Brunskell-Evans is British, as I say, and so her perspective on political ideology reflects British realities, which are structurally different than the American situation. Their Tories are not the same as our Republicans, nor is Labour the same as our Democrats, and Britain does not have America’s profusion of independent organizations (e.g., Heritage, AEI, Cato) influencing their political debate.

In particular, it’s worth noting, the British had nothing comparable to our Religious Right, which exercised such a powerful influence on the conservative movement from the 1970s onward. One might observe that Christian conservative influence in our political life has waned in the past decade, but you cannot disregard this as a source of difference between America and Britain politics. Our conservatives are more religious than their conservatives, and this matters in ways large and small. Now, let’s quote some of Professor Brunskell-Evans’s article:

The 1990s saw a fierce backlash against the radical feminist critique of patriarchy. Society, we were told, had reached a stage of “post feminism,” and we could all rest easy because the feminist movement’s demands had now been met. The Spice Girls became the epitome of young women’s newfound, individualized sexual empowerment. Feminism became a dirty word, conjuring up a spectre of miserable, sexually starved, repressed women who hated men. My students at Goldsmiths College (one of the first universities unequivocally committed to understanding sex and gender through the lens of Queer Theory, and now the proud UK hotbed of the latter), revealed an actual revulsion towards the “F word.” Any suggestion that the equality laws and the sexual freedoms from which they benefited were brought about by feminist activism and our refusal to be bound by sexist gender roles was met with disavowal. They confidently derided any suggestion that second wave feminists were sexual freedom fighters.
Transgender ideology is an outcome of the meteoric rise of Queer Theory which, contrary to the claims of trans activists, does not reject biological essentialism, but reifies it by simply reversing the order: It asserts that binary sex — being female or male — is socially “assigned,” not a biological fact; in contrast gender — an individual’s feeling of “femininity” or “masculinity” — is said to be pre-social, emerging from the inner being. This ideology has no human scientific basis and overrides simple facts.

Well, yes, ma’am, we agree that transgender ideology is nonsense, but your account of what happened to feminism reflects a view from inside academia, rather than what was happening in the real world, where feminism never possessed the sort of institutional authority it wields on university campuses. It is wrong to say there was “backlash” against feminism in the 1990s because, in the world outside academia, no one with any common sense ever doubted that feminists actually were (and still are) miserable repressed women who hate men. The form that feminism took during the 1990s, the marketing coup of “sex-positive feminism” as a message of “empowerment,” was best represented by Nina Burleigh’s comment on the Lewinsky scandal:

“I’d be happy to give [Bill Clinton] a blow job just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their Presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.”

Nina Burleigh was not the only feminist who believed that the Clinton presidency, and the Democrat Party more generally, was the only thing preventing “the theocracy” from outlawing abortion. Feminism’s alignment with the Democrats was rooted in the idea that abortion is women’s most important right — the holy sacrament of the Church of Liberalism, as Ann Coulter remarked in her book Godless. And this fanatical delusion never could have taken hold were it not for the way the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision circumnavigated the political process to impose legalized abortion on the nation.

Let’s be clear about this: If abortion is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

There is no way one can endorse infanticide and then claim the authority to lecture others about moral rights and wrongs — and this has been the fundamental error of feminism. Whether or not abortion is legal, it is always wrong, and while the law may compel us to tolerate this evil, a free people can never be forced to endorse abortion or forbidden to criticize it.

Feminists have sought to stigmatize and silence their critics and now that the shoe is on the other foot, with transgender activists seeking to stigmatize and silence feminist, who has the moral authority to referee this internecine dispute among progressives?

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply . . .”
Genesis 1:27-28 (KJV)

Feminists will not be able to defeat the transgender cult without the aid of Christians who believe that the categories male and female are the work of the Creator, who had a purpose in mind for His creation. Unless we have respect for the purpose of sexual differences (i.e., the “be fruitful and multiply” part of that formula), how are we to claim any moral high ground in such matters? If there is no God, and thus no purpose to our existence — if human life has no moral meaning or value, so that abortion is a “right” — who are we to deny transgender activists the authority to impose their own meanings, and to silence their critics?

Feminists now confront an existential crisis. If “Hailey Heartless” is a woman and “Zinnia Jones” is a woman, why can’t they assert their authority to define feminism in their own terms? If the definition of “woman” is now to be altered by political compulsion, then it becomes nearly impossible to speak of “women’s rights” in any meaningful way.




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