After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the horrors of (bureaucratic totalitarian state capitalist) ‘actually existing socialism’, free market fundamentalist ideologues sought to paint a picture of never-ending contentment and prosperity for all. ‘There is no alternative’ was the statement, first used by Thatcher prior to these events, but now even harder to refute as economic liberalism took hold across the world. Repeated iterations of the statement littered the discourse, used to stifle all debate of what (untried) alternatives might look like. Hand in hand with the end of history refrain that posited liberal democracy and free market economics as the final destination of all human societal development, TINA was a cold and calculated attempt on the part of establishment orthodoxy to straightjacket any and all efforts to conceptualise other forms of societal organisation. It has, on one level, been wildly successful. The mainstream media has propagated its assertions relentlessly, and chided anyone who sought to escape it as infantile. However, with the passing of time the ‘no alternative’ doctrine has encountered a significant obstacle: reality. As human knowledge has spiraled upwards, simplistic narratives like TINA have found their position under intense scrutiny by those determined to disassemble them as mere fallacies.
It has been necessary for the proponents of free market fundamentalism to portray themselves as profoundly non-ideological. Under a mask of economic and social common sense, they have had no qualms in embracing challenges against past orthodoxies of gender, racial, sexual and so on, with personal freedom stripped of social justice brought into alignment with their economic creed. Equating both radical, transformative and emancipatory anti-capitalist projects and nationalist, racist right-wing perspectives as two sides of the same coin, neoliberal capitalists are able to occupy a illusory centre ground of their own definition, an ideally suited discursive arrangement given that the terminology is belongs to them and them alone. Presenting themselves as heralds of rationality, they are able to grandstand about the futility of attempts to bring about change to a system that represents the best humanity can possibly achieve, and engender acceptance of the present state of things among all. In recent years, the necessity of austerity has been erected as a monolithic steady state, an inarguable fact that is only rejected by extremists.
It is a deliberate falsification, and no amount of posturing on the part of the free market fundamentalists can conceal the subversive truth: there are alternatives. Articulating what they are is problematic, because our minds are conditioned to see the present order of things as the natural order of things. All in all, a cognitive restructuring has taken place that has seemingly shifted the political centre rightwards. However, cracks are beginning to appear in the edifice. The appetite of the multitude to live a life not marked by hopelessness and despair offers possibilities. We are in unchartered territory, and attempts to try and asphyxiate debate and impose metaphorical blinkers will inevitably fail as technology allows the communication of subjugated knowledge. At the present time alternatives to austerity and neoliberalism are a form of subjugated knowledge for many, but for how long will this remain the case?