Identity politics as a subset of neo-liberalism
Let Them Eat Diversity
Bhaskar Sunkara: Neoliberalism is often presented as a unified, homogenous ideology, but you differentiate between “left” and “right” neoliberalisms — what’s the difference and which one dominates American politics today?
Walter Benn Michaels: The differentiation between left and right neoliberalism doesn’t really undermine the way it which it is deeply unified in its commitment to competitive markets and to the state’s role in maintaining competitive markets. For me the distinction is that “left neoliberals” are people who don’t understand themselves as neoliberals. They think that their commitments to anti-racism, to anti-sexism, to anti-homophobia constitute a critique of neoliberalism. But if you look at the history of the idea of neoliberalism you can see fairly quickly that neoliberalism arises as a kind of commitment precisely to those things.
One of the first major works of neoliberal economics by an American is Becker’s [The] Economics of Discrimination, which is designed precisely to show that in competitive economies you can’t afford to discriminate. Foucault sort of marks the beginning of neoliberalism in Europe with the horror at what the Nazi state did and the recognition that you can legitimize the state in a much more satisfactory manner by making it the guardian of competitive markets rather than the guardian of the German volk. And today’s orthodoxy is the idea that social justice consists above all in defense of property and the attack of discrimination. This is at the heart of neoliberalism and right-wing neoliberals understand this and left-wing neoliberals don’t.
It's not even "left" neoliberalism vs. "right" neoliberalism, is it?
Both "left" and "right" tendencies look to markets first, and to the state to support (that is, rig) the market ("Because markets"). But where a left perspective would follow the money (actually, the capital), the "left" neoliberal follows the semiotics, the markers of privilege (and always seems to miss the most obvious, which cannot be seen). So perhaps "extractive" neo-liberals would do for the right (since that tendency is at least open and honest about what it wishes to do (for example, the Koch Brothers), and "identity" neo-liberals would do for the "left" (for example, Krugman, Warren, et al).
A bit sloppy, perhaps, in the analysis. But I think "identity neo-liberals" and "extractive neo-liberals" work as polemic. This is, however, a binary opposition. I wouldn't really classify Clinton as either. So are there other factions? _____ neo-liberals?
NOTE  All markets are rigged, by definition. Why set them up, otherwise? The issues are who's doing the rigging, and how badly.
NOTE I'm not sure about the reference to Foucault on markets.