KUMASI — A man whom you have heard of but never before encountered knocks on your gate. His arms are full with products to sell—sweet chocolates, which you savor. At first glance, his world is a material paradise where you have the potential to own any shiny object your eye desires.
Along with these trinkets, he carries a box of tissues encouraging you to weep on his shoulder and lament about all the problems your people and your country are facing. Whispering in your ear, he promises he can make them all go away. He assures you that he is your doctor, your pepper soup, the catalyst to sneeze away your catarrh.
To make your problems go away, though, he showers you not with gifts but with ideas. These ideas form the basis of his new world, one in which he is adamant that you and your people will flourish.
All the while, he espouses his values upon you. He especially advocates for what he calls a free market, which proves to be an untruth in the actual application of the term.
His free market supports privatizing public utilities like electricity and water, cutting back on public services like healthcare and education, reducing government spending on public goods, and having zero accountability of private corporations to the government or the public.
Nothing about his free market is free. It costs the consumer quite a lot, in fact.
Despite its true vile intentions, the word “free” in free market is contagious and very pleasing. No matter its implications, people like the term free market and are willing to buy into it.
Upon closer inspection of his words, you now notice that the man always cloaks the true meaning of his intents behind lofty ideas that have the equivalent agreeable outlook as the free market, but pinch the citizen all the same.
Certainly you have heard some of his ideas: democracy, human rights, humanitarian aid, gender equality, and so on? All are the man’s marketing campaigns launched to propel his neoliberalism into the global fulcrum. With these ideas, the man promises he will make all of your problems and your country’s problems evaporate into nonexistence.
His promises are never redeemed, to your dismay. Democracy only usurps power from the impoverished and the middlemen to bestow it upon the moneyed.
And where are his human rights campaigns–but nowhere to be found when millions are incarcerated for nonviolent acts or merely for the color of their skin?
Precisely how inalienable are human rights, you wonder, when they are effortlessly challenged by the stroke of a pen? The simple rights to sustain a living—to grow food on one’s own property, fish in a local tributary, even collect rainwater—are banned in some countries. Human rights seem nowhere present in this neoliberalism.
What use is gender equality when its sole purposes are to discourage women from having children—hopefully not many, if any at all—and to break down the family unit—by causing competition and greater strife between women and men?
If we desire such campaigns to do anything more than entrench the neoliberal dogma, then we too have fallen for the marketing scheme.
The man also comes heralding ideas that are deceptively packaged to appear as if they have universal consent—products called world this, global that, or international the other.
Surely you have heard of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations (UN), and International Criminal Court (ICC). Surely you can name several other storefronts for neoliberal doctrines.
Initially, the superb marketing of neoliberalism made many receptive to its ideas. No doubt, the man’s product was subpar, defective, even lethal, but he sold it with such vigor that the world’s citizens, gullible as they are, were open to trying it.
Now these ideas have so polluted the world that the marketing campaigns of neoliberalism fool few anymore.
We now understand that when these marketing banners arrive at our country’s doorstep, when our leader is threatened with human rights violations, our country is said to need democracy or to be failing at achieving gender equality, we now brace ourselves for a rocky encounter with the brute force and impending violence that is neoliberalism.
Gone are the days when neoliberal marketing goes unopposed. Though we tire of some who incessantly chant its broken tune.
Our efforts to dissuade its proponents bring weariness to the cause of fighting the fiend. The miseducated, the unlearned, the puppets who grind on the side of our nemesis present a yapping hindrance to our oasis of a just world.
Fortunately, the propagandistic branches of neoliberalism squirm like the arms of an octopus but not of a hydra. When one arm or head is cut off, another will not grow in its place. It does not hold any powers of eternal rejuvenation.
So therefore, let’s not buy the man’s products. Have him go door to door without a single sale and soon he will tire of trespassing upon the property of people who have no interest in his business. The marketing campaigns of neoliberalism will cease to function if they can no longer stumble upon any trusting customers.