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OP-ED: We Need a Moratorium on the Word “Neoliberal” Until I Figure Out What it Means


Everything was going well for me this semester! Settling in to new classes is always a fraught experience, especially when contending with a severe mental handicap (being gay). That is, everything was going well until I confronted a frightening experience. In one of my recitation sections, a student took it upon themselves to deploy an unfamiliar term in the midst of our previously convivial discussion - “neoliberalism”. 

I’m not an educator nor do I claim to be one, but I assumed recitation sections were confined to barely masked discussions of last night’s debaucheries. Rolling up with a few hickeys is a rite of passage. However, class quickly turned to the readings for that week and I began to feel isolated and afraid. Words were being thrown around that I had never encountered in my erstwhile intellectual exploration. 

Now, the word haunts my every move. Dread stalks my subconscious. I can’t stop describing things as neoliberal. Maybe through defining that which isn’t neoliberal I can escape this mental prison. Agrarian lifestyles are not neoliberal, nor are Nalgene reusable water bottles. Wait, well actually….

Is one not struck by the spiritually vacant tenor of our contemporary order when they step into the postmodern feeding trough that is Sweetgreen? Compliant drones populate our campus, mindlessly sporting athleisure and other associated detritus of an economic system that entirely revolves around profit. 

I can’t stop talking like this. 

Someone please put me out of misery.