George Monbiot wants to tell us that neoliberalism is puppy dog tails and snails, as opposed to the all things nice which his as yet unexplained alternative would be. But if you fail to understand even the most basic underlying concepts of a philosophy then you’re going to come to grief in critiquing it:
Neoliberalism is the ideology developed by people such as Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman. It is not just a set of free-market ideas, but a focused discipline, deliberately applied around the world. It treats competition as humanity’s defining characteristic, sees citizens as consumers and “the market” as society’s organising principle.
That’s to fail at the first fence. Far from competition being the defining characteristic we neoliberals insist that cooperation is. We humans do cooperate with each other, always have done always will. Competition is simply the method by which we decide who to cooperate with. The market is just the mechanism of mediation and exchange.
We do, after all, insist that a market transaction is, by definition, voluntary. And what is two or more people voluntarily agreeing to do something other than cooperation? The British economy is no more - and no less - than 65 million people cooperating the hell out of each other.
If you can’t grasp even this basic building block of the logic then you’re really never going to understand the world around us.