Neoliberal ideas have emerged to be the leading political, economic, and social paradigm in modern American society. Many scholars examine the effects of this system on the different manifestations of life (Foer, 2017; Fukuyama, 2016; Gray, 2011). The theoretical framework of neoliberalism does not coincide with the practices it utilizes and the outcomes it leads to. Being respectful of equality and freedoms in its theoretical essence, this concept imposes the occurrence of monopolies on the basis of free economy and competition.
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As argued in the book by Foer (2017), technological progress is monopolized by large corporations the policies of which threaten the freedom of thought by setting trends and endangering democracy. The paper will compare and contrast Foer’s arguments to the ideas articulated by other scholars examining these issues. Neoliberal ideas in America threaten the economy by monopolies, endanger democracy by oppressing the existence of multiple opinions, and diminish American culture.
One of the main outcomes of the neoliberal ideas application in the American economic space is the emergence of monopolies. According to Foer (2017), the age of technological revolution that brought such corporations as Google and Facebook to the world of Internet technologies imposed the dominance of their influence on the informational space. These effects can be observed not only in the USA but all over the world. Similarly, MacLEan (2017) analyzes an example of the management style of the Koch family who were the owners of the company Universal Oil Products.
The dynasty of millionaires owns enough finances to influence the competitors on the market and run a business effectively. They “violate patent rights” but successfully resolve all legal issues by means of their wealth (MacLean, 2017, p. 128). In the same way, the giants of the tech industry accumulate wealth and become powerful in every respect, thus making a monopoly a new form of freedom. As Hayek (2014) states, in the world of neoliberalism, “freedom in a sense is … another name for power or wealth” (p. 78). Therefore, the anticipated equality claimed by the theorists of neoliberalism fails to be delivered through practices due to the threats monopoly presents for the economic opportunities of minor entities.
The growth of monopoly and the rule of tech giants in the world of economy impose a significant threat to democracy. Indeed, as it becomes obvious from Foer’s (2017) narration, democracy is impossible in the world of monopolistic oppression of start-ups or entrepreneurship. The stable and undoubted power of influence of such Silicon Valley’s large corporations as Facebook, Amazon, and Google restrains the possibility of the emergence of any economic or technologic ideas that would compete with them.
However, Fukuyama (2006) analyzes the political history of humanity and concludes that the existence of a democratic society is possible. Some countries of Western Europe have succeeded in a democratic organization of work in economic, political, and social dimensions. Democracy has to be based on “the principles of liberty and equality” which are the “discoveries about the nature of man as man, whose … point of view becomes more cosmopolitan” (Fukuyama, 2006, p. 51). Despite this controversy concerning the authors’ general views of democracy, they share the opinion that American culture is unique in its vision of the relations between economy, government, and social issues.
Developing the theme of American culture, neoliberal practices such as the manifestations of modern cultural phenomena are discussed by Foer (2017) in detail. As the author puts it, “innovations don’t … proceed on the basis of some scientific logic; the culture prods them into existence” (Foer, 2017, p. 21). Indeed, the overwhelming influential power gained by technology giants allows them to intrude into the core of social culture and impact it from within.
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Foer addresses the attempts of Silicon Valley to lead the policy of anti-elitism and be available for the majority of the population. On the basis of this attitude, for example, the corporations produced its “bible” entitled “The Whole Earth Catalogue” that manifests the power of an individual to conduct his or her life activities (Foer, 2017). Thus, such statements introduce a standardized thought paradigm that enables ruling people’s behaviors and forms the overall cultural sphere of the whole society.
Hayek (2014) states that freedom should be regarded as the absence of a person’s obedience to someone else’s desires and “the release from the compulsion” that can limit a person’s choices (p. 77). Both authors’ arguments about freedom are similar in the respect that it might be violated by someone else’s intrusion. In the case of a monopolistic tech corporation, they present their influences in obscure ways and undermine the freedom of choice for average Americans. Consequently, neoliberal ideas applied to American culture through the perspective of large businesses make it impossible to maintain equality, democracy, and freedom.
In conclusion, a significant number of articles and books are devoted to the discussion of the modern American political discourse within the framework of neoliberalism. The ideas and practices of this concept fail to be adopted in reality due to the multi-faceted nature of the main phenomena such as freedom or equality. Modern freedom is equal to wealth which lets particular corporations to gain more power and control not only in the world of the economy but also in politics and culture.
Foer, F. (2017). World without mind: The existential threat of big tech. New York, NY: Penguin Press.
Fukuyama, F. (2006). The worldwide liberal revolution. In The end of history and the last man (pp. 39-51). New York, NY: Free Press.
Hayek, F. A. (2014). The road to Serfdom: Text and documents: The definitive edition (Vol. 2). New York, NY: Routledge.
MacLean, N. (2017). Democracy in chains: The deep history of the radical right’s stealth plan for America. New York, NY: Viking.