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What does 'neoliberalism' mean?

I've been confused over the last year or two at the liberal use of 'neoliberal' and 'neoliberalism' amongst liberals. Admittedly, definitions can shift, and meanings can be added to established words, so I get that usage here is changing. Still.

As I understand the terms, they denote belief in pure, free-market, market-driven, and laissez faire economics and economic political policies; and support for privitization, deregulation, and free trade. But then there are people who seem to think 'neoliberal' means "establishment", "internationalist", "centrist", "Keynesian", or simply "not as far to the left as me". Some use it as a handy cudgel, a term of clout without semantic content, removing the possibility of meaningful conversation.

I understand these are words with a convoluted history involving multiple schools of shifting thought, so some confusion (and conflation) is understandable. I admit some confusion, myself.

But not too long ago, it was mostly a wonky term often requiring explanation and contextualizing from intellectual elites. Now, it just seems like regurgitated drivel with a side of empty posturing.

But perhaps I have misunderstood its application.


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Pointless Ruminations on the Absurd

The world around us is in no way required to conform to our expectations, beliefs, or desires. Rather, it is all but guaranteed to disappoint us, at least once or twice a lifetime. The loftier (or more deeply felt) our ideals, the more this may be true.

When we accept this incongruity and are keenly aware of it, but cannot change our thinking, absurdity steps in. The world no longer quite makes sense. It is untethered from rational or moral concerns, adrift in a bizarre joke told by no one.
Desire for normative order is often irrational and misplaced. Placing ethical constraints on amoral matters makes no sense. Yet these appear (sometimes, seemingly) inescapable conclusions. Hence the sensation of absurdity.

We can apply these incongruous demands to anything and anyone. But this is not a universal philosophy. It is a philosophy of the self, a diagnosis.

Well now.

I think I'm going to try to revive my online writing habits, outside of Facebook.

And what have I been thinking or feeling in the interim, across the last couple years or so? Well, I'm glad you asked.

In part, this.