Angela Davis (on the 4th page of her speech’s transcript), claims that “the concept of the public good and the very concept of community are being eliminated to make way for the notion of individual responsibility.” This idea/claim caught my attention as it is an incredibly bold (and, in my opinion,) sensationalized point of view; I had an immediate and vehement reaction to this idea.
Neoliberalism, as Davis correctly states, puts a heavy emphasis on freedom and on the free-market. However, to say that an increase in personal accountability results in the decrease of community, is a shocking and unsubstantiated claim. The founders of neoliberalism, Karl Popper and others, formed their ideology in the hopes of creating a better – and freer – world. Democracy and capitalism, two cornerstones of neoliberalism, need strong communities to thrive. Democracy, in fact, is the belief that the public good is incredibly important — that’s why the public is entrusted to make decisions.
While I don’t agree with almost any of Davis’ ideas, her strong-headedness and honest political thought is to be admired. Other political thinkers that we have read, Karl Marx and John Locke, would nicely complement Davis on a panel. To that panel, I’d ask the following three questions:
- How important/desirable is personal freedom?
- Is it ever possible to eliminate “grouping” and “othering?”
- What political trait is best for your typical “average joe” citizen to have?