What the 1% are is, effectively, a ruling class, they represent the point where concentrated wealth can be turned into political power. National politics in the US has been reduced to battles between different factions of that 1%. This is not just a traditional Marxist bourgeoisie though—and this is where I think it dovetails with the argument in debt—it represents the effects of financialization whereby more and more, economic value is not extracted indirectly, through the wage, but directly, through rents and more generally by what they used to call “political-jural extraction,” which I think was Perry Anderson’s term for feudalism. I’m not saying we’re reverting to feudalism quite, but something else in some ways analogous.
Whenever a surplus is extracted directly rather than indirectly, ideology also changes, since it’s much harder to disguise what’s really going on. Hence the neoliberal obsession, noted in the book, in preemptive attacks on anything that even looks like it’s an alternative. They’re barely even trying to convince anyone capitalism is a good system any more; just arguing that no other system is conceivable. (Source)
I am preparing a post, or perhaps a series of posts, on Neoliberalism, and I will lean heavily on David Graeber's book Debt: The First 5000 Years and David Harvey's A Brief History of Neoliberalism. The goal is to understand how we let Neoliberalism and its financialization of reality become "normal". How we have come to accept market mechanisms in the economic sphere as normative, but have come more and more to accept that we live in a market society, as well, in which so many social, non-familial transactions are about interest rather than about mutual aid and support of one another's flourishing.
I have spent a lot of time talking here about the ongoing destructive effect of Neoliberal ideas in public education, but while acute there, the negative effects are more pervasive and broadly dehumanizing. Of course, lots of people resist the Neoliberal world view and find it repugnant, but they're not the people running things. And the ambitious do not rise in this political economy unless they embrace it as normative.
Neoliberals and those who accept the Neoliberal order tend to think of what has happened to the political economy, especially in the last thirty years since the toppling of Keynes, as a reversion to the natural order, or that it's the inevitable consequence of globalization, that we must let 'nature' take its course, that there's no fighting it, and that all other alternatives are either naive or harmful.
Then, if I have the time and energy, I want to spend some time reflecting on the Hayek/Polanyi polarity. The goal is not to polemicize but to understand the underlying assumptions, the metaphysics, so to say, of each thinker's world view. And also to bring into the discussion other thinkers who explore either side of this polarity.