In addition, as Mirowski implies, neoliberal ideology has to be self-replicating and accepted by large masses of people. The welfare recipient has to shrug her shoulders and say: I’m poor because I’m stupid. The worker has to positively welcome the little private letter announcing their individual pay rise, and think “thank Christ there are no more unions to make us all get the same”. The bailiff has to evict the tenant with glee, thinking “thank God it’s not me”. The border policeman has to truncheon the migrant for the same reasons.
Because the unions were already smashed, they did not have to focus so relentlessly on destructive tasks: the ideology in their heads could be more varied, ranging from paternalistic liberalism to — in the Blair/Brown administration — mild redistribution and increased state spending .