Jul 20, 2019
Here in the Macro ‘n
Cheese clubhouse, whenever we think we fully comprehend
neoliberalism, a guest comes along with a whole new range of
insights. Scott Ferguson is just that kind of guest. His main area
of interest is culture and he makes some surprising observations
about our ingrained misunderstanding of money and how it relates to
politics, art, and our very experience of modern life.
Neoliberalism structures our innermost thoughts, feelings, and
Ferguson traces the
roots of neoliberalism back through what he calls the “big L”
liberalism of Adam Smith and the class warfare waged against the
aristocracy by the merchant and industrial class. The “small L”
liberalism of FDR and post WWII mid-century America played a role
as well. By the 1970s, neoliberalism grew as a reaction to the
gains made by the civil rights, labor, and anti-war movements.
Power needed to be locked down and consolidated. The neoliberal
narrative of scarcity flourished.
Money can be
legitimately seen as our oxygen. It is the centralized medium that
connects us to one another. But we don’t have a culture that
affirms this view. In songs and films, money is related to greed
and, whether this is seen as a positive or negative quality, it is
always portrayed as a zero sum game. There must be winners and
losers. This is as true of our popular culture as our political
Despite the enormity
of the problem, Ferguson sees this as an exciting time. The current
paradigm crisis is exposing cracks in the neoliberal foundation.
Activist groups are aligning with the modern money movement and,
for the first time in decades, rejecting the mythology of scarcity.
The clarity of focus and purpose in proposals like the Green New
Deal and the federal job guarantee can ultimately change the debate
so it is about abundance rather privation.
Scott Ferguson is
Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies in the Department of
Humanities and Cultural Studies at the University of South Florida,
Research Scholar at the Global Institute for Sustainable
Prosperity, co-director of The Modern Money Network Humanities
Division, and producer of the Money on the Left
Follow him on Twitter
Money on the Left Podcast
Check out his book,
Declaration of Dependence