Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, a major proponent and agent of neoliberalism
Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, a major agent of neoliberalism in the 1990s and early 2000s Reuters

Critics of the Occupy Wall Street protest say it's all over the place. They say it has no clear aim or agenda.

Others wonder if it is being hijacked by a mishmash of groups with their own agendas. In the Philippines, for example, protesters expressed solidarity with the New York Occupy Wall Street movement by protesting against the stationing of U.S. troops. in their country.

Now,, the Web site for the NYC Protest for American Revolution, announced that it has a single enemy that seems to encompass most of the wrongs the protesters are railing against.

That enemy is neoliberalism.

Over the last 30 years, the [top] 1% have created a global economic system -- neoliberalism -- that attacks our human rights and destroys our environment, stated the Web site.

It blamed the following problems on neoliberalism:

  1. The high unemployment rate
  2. The inability of many people to afford health care, education, food and mortgages
  3. The gutting [of] labor standards, living wages, social contracts and environmental protections
  4. The European debt crisis
  5. The 2008-2009 U.S. financial crisis
  6. The massive surge in wealth of the top 1 percent

On Saturday, Oct. 15, called for the world will rise up as one and say we have had enough! We are a new beginning, a global fight on on all fronts that will usher in an era of shared prosperity, respect, mutual aid and dignity.

Just what is neoliberalism?

Neoliberalism, ironically, is also hard to define.

Stephanie Lee Mudge of UC Davis calls it an oft-invoked but ill-defined concept in the social sciences.

Generally speaking, neoliberalism favors the following policies (which echo the economic policy prescriptions written by the economist John Williamson for his famous Washington Consensus):

  1. Trade liberalization
  2. Liberalization of inflows of foreign direct investment
  3. Privatization
  4. Deregulation

Put another way, neoliberalism favors globalization and discourages government intervention.

Its birth was partially in response and an alternative to the failure of communism and other similar government-heavy economic systems. Since the 1980s, neoliberalism gained in popularity and has arguably been the prevailing form of government and economic system in the world for the last 30 years.

However, critics of neoliberalism, including some of the Occupy Wall Street protesters and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, argue it creates unstable economic systems and benefits global corporations at the expense of workers everywhere.