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How to Kill a Zombie: Strategizing the End to Neoliberalism

In an article published in 2013, author Mark Fisher attempts to describe the way in which neoliberalism was created as the antithesis of socialism and state bureaucracy. However, over the course of the Twentieth century, neoliberalism has instead imposed its own form of bureaucratic control. The question one must pose then is why, after the 2008 economic collapse that crippled most economies in the world, was it that neoliberalism was never rejected by liberals in state governments? As Fisher describes, since the 2008 economic collapse, neoliberalism has been deprived of its forward momentum that it previously had for the better part of a century. Now, neoliberalism “…shambles on as a zombie:” not really dead, but not really experiencing the same popular support it previously had.

Fisher also describes the way in which neoliberalism never really had any form of enthusiastic general public acceptance, but, rather, people were persuaded that no alternative to neoliberalism existed. “Neoliberalism may not have succeeded in making itself more attractive than other systems, but it has sold itself as the only ‘realistic’ mode of governance (Fisher, 2013).” What this means is that neoliberalism requires general support, though not general understanding, of its brand of policies. This manifests itself in ways that discredit all alternative forms of government and societal structures.

Furthermore, as Fisher argues, neoliberalism was designed to “…reassert class power…” and led to the disintegration of “…class consciousness.” Simultaneously, competition was heralded as a major value in neoliberal societies as a means of improving efficiency but also reducing solidarity. This resulted in a “marketization” of many public institutions so as to mimic efficient business practices. However, this caused the creation of massive bureaucratic mechanisms in various public services, an excellent example being that of education. Thus, “…an ideology which promised to liberate us from state socialist bureaucracy has instead imposed a bureaucracy all of its own (Fisher, 2013).”