Joy to the fishes. But first, bless us, oh Lord, and these, thy gifts, which we are about to release into the–look, I’m not saying that it’s a cookbook, but, you know.
Think of this as a latter-day Brandenburg Concerto, one in which Ohio stands above the waters (sic) of its own mighty Cuyahoga and the federal judiciary stands beside it, ready at the first sign of tyrannical insolence to give it a second shove. In the decades before they sold out, the Boomers were quite taken with “up against the wall, motherfucker,” causing Christopher Lasch to be really, really quite taken with the prospect of “every mother for himself.” The obvious problem with a wall, though, is that it is not a cliff. Or the Marianas Trench, imminently to be disrupted from the top of its water column to the bottom when gravity finally unleashes its potential energy in a partnership with these concrete boots to offer a performance-based offshoring to individuals who have wasted far too many opportunities on land to show that they have any merit at all. Really, though, we’re sorry that you feel that way about being “linked in” to this belly chain while the wrecking ball on the other end crashes inexorably into the mighty Pacific.
Neoliberal verbal tics are real. So is cannibalism. So why are Vince “why, yes, I will have a heart” Li memes so much less distressing? (Pablo Cruz: “Dude, I told you to keep YOUR heart open! I wasn’t talking about that other guy’s chest!”)
Probably because bus cannibalism basically never happens and, on the very rare occasion when it does, provokes an immediate intervention by the RCMP. I’ve come across some sketch-ass motherfuckers on the bus. Years ago, I was relieved when the Geico Caveman did not take the seat next to mine on the bus from Columbus to Indianapolis, but I still kept an eye on him for the first fifteen minutes, until I was satisfied that he’d calmed down, just in case he tried to knife someone. Another day on the Dirty Dog, as they say. But I’ve never come to harm on the bus.
This, once again, is why we should take our psychokillers low-functioning, if we can. (And Canadian, obviously.) The real trouble doesn’t start until the high-functioning show up on the scene. One of the dangerous things about neoliberalism is that it’s ultra-high-functioning. It’s the province of the meritocratic worthies, life’s true winners. This makes it much more disturbing, and disturbed, than Nova Scotia, the province of *KILLER CANUCK SEO TIME AGAIN* Melissa Ann Shepard. (The pleasure of not being so inappropriately off-topic only lasts so long.) One crazy QE2-looking bitch who will put hospital-grade tranquilizers in your coffee can be avoided easily enough by not marrying her (bachelor life FTW, I’m afraid) or moving out right away once the coffee loses its zoom-zoom and starts making one le tired.
Neoliberalism leaves entire societies with nowhere to go. Make like our bus buddy Weiguang and expatriate to Canada on the assumption that Trudeau is not a neoliberal? No goofy eulogy of his reputed biological father, Fidel Castro, will change his revealed policies or his stated platform into anything that they are not, especially among starfucking masses too infatuated with his legendary handsomeness (huh?) to pay attention to what he’s actually saying and doing about, you know, all the political shit the Liberals elevated him to coordinate. (Kevin Vickers must be too low-key and, might we say, other-absorbed to register as a Canadian cutie in the mass mind.)
The international aspects of neoliberalism are actually scarier than I’m letting on by being so tendentiously canucksploitative. Frighteningly wide swathes of the world have been colonized by neoliberals or their close fellow travelers. The most obvious examples are in the First World, but the neoliberals are also penetrating the Second and Third in their search for compliant consumer markets, military satellites, and resource colonies. They’re rampaging through every bit of Central and South America whose governments don’t forcibly expel them and, bless we all the rains, they are preying on the prevailing official dysfunction and corruption in a number of jurisdictions down in Aaaaah-Fricaaah. Waka waka hey hey, Pat Roberston has also joined them in their operation of blessing (TM), which oddly traces less the map of soluble human need than that of exploitable diamond reserves. Hmm.
The jungle: that through which one had better run, boy.
If the ruling governmental and nonprofit (sic) elites in dozens of countries around the world aren’t a malevolent superorganism, why are they acting so eerily like nothing less? They operate with a surreal consistency and discipline across the globe in a variety of local cultural milieus that could hardly be more diverse. In public, at least, they express no qualms about the objectively vicious and evil official behavior of their Gulf Arab allies, but they become visibly butthurt every time some eccentric bit of local color in the erstwhile banana republics tries to stand up to them on behalf of his constituents, and they won’t drop their perennial concern-trolling of Japan, an exceptionally well-governed and functional country by every available metric, for its refusal to admit admit gaijin gastarbeiter hordes, on the specious basis that this will inevitably plunge a slowly depopulating nation into a death spiral of dysfunction that is farther from the horizon in Japan than it is practically anywhere else on earth.
In this context, it’s troubling that the Gulf Arab Raj squad cleans up well and speaks such good English. This enables it to plead its own case directly to the Western public with an easy proficiency that is beyond the grasp of the average Japanese or Bolivian official while encouraging its legion failsons to be raging assholes in Mayfair and deliberately allowing expendables from the subcontinent to collapse dead of thirst on its construction sites. By the reckoning of the Washington consensus, Venezuela’s ongoing toiletry shortages are obviously a resounding damnation of socialism, but if Qatar insists on turning the construction of its World Cup stadium into a warm-water Kolyma–a blatant casus belli for the foreign governments whose citizens it has Shanghaied into slavery, by the way–well, now, we needn’t dwell on this recent unpleasantness, so why don’t we talk about something more appropriate instead.
One way to understand neoliberal habits of speech is as a mass of supercilious, precious, holier-than-thou assholes constantly getting in the way of normal conversations (hey!) among normal people to preemptively change the subject, probably because they’d be implicated as culpable parties to some scandal if they didn’t. The tricky thing is that most of them are so fucking smooth in their interference that anyone calling foul on them sounds like a crank by comparison. (Thank God the neoliberals are starting to get overconfident, as we’ll see shortly, and starting to blow their meticulously cultivated covers.) What we have, then, are generations of leaders who have somehow successfully been conditioned to run hasbara-grade psyops in their day-to-day conversations (well, now!) without a second thought.
It is reasonable and healthy to find this absolutely unacceptable. It’s deeply pathological behavior, regardless of what, exactly, drives it. To be charitable, a constant refusal to so much as listen to other people honestly complain about serious problems in their lives can be construed as extreme childishness, and there appears to be a much higher prevalence of disabling mental instability in neoliberal circles than in the general population. I’m no Radovan Karadzic, but they just look mentally unhealthy.
At the same time, these people are disproportionately employed in positions of significant official and semiofficial power that presumably require strong executive function. So what the hell gives? The role of cronyism and nepotism in their career trajectories is substantially provable, and there’s abundant anecdotal evidence that they’re desperately scrupulous about putting on airs of perfect mental health and social stability in their professional lives. The Apprentice doesn’t look much like The Office, and neither of these looks anything like LinkedIn, but all three are excruciating when considered as real-life scenarios, and all three are ultimately dyscivic and dyscivilizational when replicated. In one setting, narcissism is an excuse for blatant torts under employment law. In another, widespread poor socialization is used as a recursive excuse for itself. In the third, everyone pretends that no one ever, ever experiences any sort of psychological or interpersonal difficulties. Out in the real world, the Space Needle needs structural and seismic engineering reviews on a regular basis so that it doesn’t, like, fall over. If the engineers are competent and diligent at work, who gives a shit if they drink their seasonal affective disorder into fleeting abatement every night?
The neoliberals don’t need that much executive function, then. Tom Friedman is tossed a mulligan every time he publishes something retarded, which is usually. This is a crowd that quite enjoys its strategic disengagement from the tangible world. Some loser can always be hired on a competitive bid to actually run things, after all. Coarse alt-right concepts like alpha bucks/beta bucks, shit tests, and pervasive cuckoldry make all too much sense in this context as unifying socioeconomic theories. The social proof is hogged by malignant jackoffs who instigate bidding wars between desperate sycophants for the privilege to serve as subsistence-level drone bitches for their very self-esteeming rulers. The theme is that some slick hustler who spent eight or twelve years in successive finishing schools, being taught how to properly talk the story of her own virtuous life, gets to expropriate the fruit of your labor because you weren’t meritorious enough to buy into the racket that she’s now franchising on your sorry ass. If a useless, wifebeating, drugged-out dirtbag from some crappy band isn’t stealing your girl while you’re out providing for her with your engineering job, maybe Carly Fiorina is stealing your job and pension. It may not quite repeat, but it sure rhymes.
Remember, though, it’s gauche to react emotionally to any of this just because one has come to grief from it. That isn’t the done thing for the well-bred. Go on LinkedIn and update your profile to tell the world that you’re a “professional optimist” instead.
As I mentioned above, the neoliberals are finally starting to lose the forced social polish that they so cherish. They’re getting cornered, and like many cornered animals, they’re reacting crudely. Hillary Clinton, of course, has a long history of keeping her own behavior barely within the explicit bounds of the socially acceptable, much as she has kept her own official conduct barely within the bounds of the law as construed upon due consideration by James Comey and Loretta Lynch. She stays just on the right side of not making everyone she isn’t directly paying off feel justified in openly calling her a crazy bitch. By obeying the prevailing court etiquette on things like the public utterance of racial or sexual slurs, she’s able to get a halfway respectable (but rapidly dwindling) number of people who sincerely believe in civility as a virtue to side with her against the hordes of deplorables clawing their way out of their basket to smear her character. Of course, many of these deplorables have long been of the opinion that she’s a coarse hypocrite using sleazy legalisms to cover herself in ramshackle self-justifications for bad acts that they themselves wouldn’t dare attempt.
That Big Dog, though. Bill never had to pretend to be polished. He had a natural smoothness and ability to clean up well that greased his shimmying from the petty bourgeois trailer parks of south Arkansas into Yale, Oxford, the governorship, and, at an unusually young age, the US presidency. That mofo was smooth. He beautified neoliberalism into something that might still impoverish and kill you but at least wouldn’t make you barf.
I presented that in the past tense for a reason. He’s still smooth in a purely auditory fashion, up to a point, on account of that Arkie thang, but that only works on listeners who totally aren’t listening. It isn’t just that he’s gotten hoarse, either. The Democratic National Convention this year was the first time I heard him give a speech that made me want to barf. The theme of his address was his marriage, which he repeatedly called (what else?) a “conversation.” “Eleventy billion years later, Hillary and I are still having that conversation.” Yeah, and half an hour later I’m still clutching this airsickness bag.
Honestly, the only thing about that speech that made it bearable (I probably should have turned CNN off like a normal person) was the possibility that Bill had been ordered to deliver this unctuous slop by some #WithHer asshole and, having other bimbos available for his dicking, didn’t feel like trying to pass his crazy wife’s shit test. Alternately, it’s conceivable, especially given his standing ticket on the Lolita Express, that he beclowned himself with that shit because he had been blackmailed by the DNC smarm trust.
Any man who enthusiastically carries on about that vomit-inducing domesticity horseshit in a political speech because that’s truly how he feels about his family politics, and not because one of the vermin around him put him up to it, is utterly disreputable, even by Bill Clinton’s standards. I’ve never really held the Lewinsky thing against him, either, because that always looked to me like a prosaic big man’s fling with a mistress, notwithstanding the cigar abuse, until the dork squad and the Congressional downlows muscled in on it to score some cheap political points. The real sleaze was almost everywhere else: Whitewater, Ricky Ray Rector, idling Air Force One (and its long-suffering Secret Service and Air Force crews) because he needed the most expensive haircut in a hundred-mile radius right now, renting out the Lincoln Bedroom to donors, repealing Glass-Steagall in exchange for deferred baksheesh running into the high eight or nine figures. Ad nauseam.
During his presidency, Slick Willie charmed his way through these sleazy cons and new money self-indulgences. Something happened to him in retirement, and it wasn’t just his getting sickly or forgetting to eat. For some horrible reason, we had to hear at length about how he’s an old married man. We didn’t have to hear that about Bernie, even though he’s no less married and often deployed Jane as a surrogate during his campaign. We rarely had to hear it about any of the other 42 married presidents to govern the United States over the course of its history. Marriage is such an unusual state for a presidential candidate that we haven’t had a bachelor serve as president since subsequently reputed fruit James Buchanan crowned his niece first lady.
As a childless certifiable bachelor, I truly cannot be bothered to give a shit about this. Inferred homosexuality is just about the worst possible reason to oppose a Lindsay Graham presidency. Other guys get married, and a tiny number of them are elected president. Big fucking deal. That isn’t why I don’t get dates without paying for them by the hour.
So why the hell did we have to listen to Bill Clinton brag about being married? That dissolute cockhound, of all people, with his widely suspected domestic batterer of a wife? It was just fucking absurd. Maybe the speechwriters figured that we’d all be too ignorant to remember or at any point have subsequently learned about Bill Clinton’s epic history of marital infidelity, sexual harassment, and, oh yeah, forcible rape.
We’re still having that conversation. A “conversation” that started with a first date as joint scab labor crossing a Yale picket line. Who the hell even thinks of a marriage that way? Was that entire campaign squatting in a Hallmark store at night? That oily virtue-signaling about the Clintons’ wildly exaggerated domesticity must have been meant to distract voters from issues other than the Democratic nominee’s family life, like an economy that Bill Clinton had cast off on a path to ruin for personal profit.
Sure. Some of us might be young, Miss Trainor, but we ain’t stupid. One of the great scandals of Victorian history was the use of attention-whoring about domestic virtue to distract the easily distracted from the pastiche of grotesque horrors that the wealthy had deliberately made of life for the poor in order to further enrich themselves. The Clinton machine must have thought that no one alive in their country had read any history. Oops. How embarrassingly stupid does a political campaign have to be to resurrect overt Victorian pieties of virtuous wealth in a time of spreading socioeconomic ruin among the disfavored lowest three quarters of its electorate? Maybe they think we’re pig-ignorant about history because they are. They certainly have trouble imagining most other ways that our lives differ from theirs. For all their willingness to listen to the poors instead of lecturing us, some of them might as well be schooled about Martians.
They don’t want us to kill their vibe, bitch. Hmm. Speaking of vibes, there was an earthquake off the coast west of Ferndale this morning, and when my dad heard from his local postmistress, he got worried enough about a possible tsunami that he called me to make sure that I wouldn’t let the sea take me on its way through Crescent City. Maybe, though, it would be possible to relocate parts of the federal government here, just in case. Check it out, guys: the waterline just whooshed out! You should go down and take a look!
These fuckers don’t mind lecturing the homeless and the much larger constituency of the barely not homeless about how we can do something other than demand decent, affordable shelter and shit. Decency supposedly forbids us to respond in kind. If we don’t make nice with them, they might decide not to do anything for us out of spite, which is exactly what they’re already making every effort to do. We aren’t being nice enough to our abusers again.
In that case, since I’m already at loose ends on the edge of Christopher Cross country without a boat, I’d be remiss not to invite the neoliberals into a conversation about shore houses, specifically modular ones. No, don’t tell me; I’ll tell you all about our little trailer by the sea this time, and about my prophecy of the Sixth Sorrowful Mystery, in which it plunges all the way off Cape Foulweather during a small craft advisory.
What’s that? I’ll get wet? Uh, I don’t follow. Wet? What’s “wet?”
Yes, in post-Soviet America, is can always be sell any dream to YOU! I, too, have a dream, that it’s time for a cool change.