Citizen Action Monitor

“Justin Trudeau is looking a lot like the last neo-liberal standing, albeit with his own quirks.”

So, what makes Trudeau a neoliberal? And what makes him a quirky one? – Rick Salutin explains.

No 2006 Posted by fw, July 13, 2017

Rick Salutin

“The neo-liberalism that has ruled everywhere for 30 years has other elements: privatization, financialization, deregulation. But politically its loss leader was free trade, and that’s what sank it in recent campaigns. The real villains of neo-liberalism weren’t its natural parents: Reagan, Thatcher, Brian Mulroney. It was their “lefter” successors: Clinton, Blair, Chretien and Martin, who gave it what Tom Walkom has called a human face. That face made it even more odious, when its effects surfaced…. I think you can see him [Trudeau] trying to be both a neo-liberal and a populist. As a neo-liberal, he is committed to trade deals like the TPP, and the Canada-Europe deal, CETA. But they would almost certainly cost Canadians jobs. It’s what trade deals do. So, on the other hand, he’s approving new pipelines because they create some jobs, and symbolically, they’re all about job creation.”Rick Salutin, Rabble.ca

A neoliberal with quirks? How so?

Salutin attributes to Trudeau six qualities that qualify the PM to be labelled, pejoratively, as a “neo-liberal.” The six terms are: free trade; privatization; financialization; deregulation; sanctimonious; and air of moral superiority.

Five “quirks” or contradictions allow Trudeau to fit in with the class of “leftist” neo-liberals — Clinton, Blair, Chretien and Martin. These neo-liberal-busting anomalies include: not being a deficit hysteric; exudes empathy; a populist; job-creating pipelines; and carbon cutting plan.

With characteristic wit, Salutin concludes his brief character profile: “He has a reasonable shot at remaining the last — as long as he’s also the least — neo-liberal.”

But will the public even notice the difference between “last” and “least”? Or will Trudeau’s considerable charm continue to disarm them?

Rick Salutin is a Canadian novelist, playwright, journalist, and critic and has been writing for more than forty years.

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Will Justin Trudeau be the last neo-liberal standing? Rick Salutin, rabble.ca, January 6, 2017

Economists have been arguing that automation, not trade deals, killed those jobs. That’s not the experience of those workers/voters. It’s NAFTA that allowed whole factories to be shipped to Mexico, and undermined the power of their unions to resist automation’s effects. They voted what they know.

The neo-liberalism that has ruled everywhere for 30 years has other elements: privatization, financialization, deregulation. But politically its loss leader was free trade, and that’s what sank it in recent campaigns.

The real villains of neo-liberalism weren’t its natural parents: Reagan, Thatcher, Brian Mulroney. It was their “lefter” successors: Clinton, Blair, Chretien and Martin, who gave it what Tom Walkom has called a human face. That face made it even more odious, when its effects surfaced.

Why? Because of their sanctimony and moral superiority. How could they be villains? They were so empathic. They dismissed those in pain inflicted by their neo-liberal economic policies as “deplorables,” (Hillary Clinton) and “angry white men” (Bill Clinton). “At least Trump sees us,” said some of the “hillbillies” dismissed by the Clintons.

Canada is different but here, too, the selling point of neo-liberalism has been free trade — partly because we’re too few not to trade; our country arose to trade (away) our natural resources. We’ve had ferocious free trade elections.

So it’s unsurprising that Justin Trudeau is looking a lot like the last neo-liberal standing, albeit with his own quirks, like not being a deficit hysteric. Like the Clintons and Blair, he exudes empathy for the excluded — while clinging fiercely to (free) trade deals. I think you can see him trying to resolve the same dilemmas on which Hillary Clinton recently shipwrecked.

I think you can see him trying to be both a neo-liberal and a populist. As a neo-liberal, he is committed to trade deals like the TPP, and the Canada-Europe deal, CETA. But they would almost certainly cost Canadians jobs. It’s what trade deals do. So on the other hand, he’s approving new pipelines because they create some jobs, and symbolically, they’re all about job creation. As a next gen empathic neo-liberal, he’s also created a national carbon cutting plan, alongside the pipelines, which will increase emissions. Contradictions, anyone?

Yes, it’s rationally incoherent, but that doesn’t really matter in politics, as long as it keeps you in office. And a Nanos poll shows most Canadians happily accept the contradiction. They back the carbon plan and the pipelines. I’m not even against the mix myself. It’s better to do some good things (jobs, less carbon) than only rotten things (further ugly globalization plus emissions).

Trudeau’s fortune at this point is not to have any serious populist opposition (populism is the neoliberal’s nemesis, because it brazenly rejects free trade): neither Trump nor Sanders nor Brexit, which would put his flaccid platitudes about free trade under pressure. That and, of course, the fact that this is Canada, not the U.S. or anywhere else. He has a reasonable shot at remaining the last — as long as he’s also the least — neo-liberal.

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This entry was posted on July 13, 2017 by in information counterpower, political action and tagged .
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