Meanwhile millions are plunged into either the end-station of poverty or become part of the mass incarceration state. Mass fear is normalized as violence increasingly becomes the default logic for handling social problems. In an age where everything is for sale, ethical accountability is rendered a liability and the vocabulary of empathy is viewed as a weakness, reinforced by the view that individual happiness and its endless search for instant gratification is more important than supporting the public good and embracing an obligation to care for others. Americans are now pitted against each other as neoliberalism puts a premium on competitive cage-like relations that degrade collaboration and the public spheres that support it.
Within neoliberal ideology, an emphasis on competition in every sphere of life promotes a winner-take-all ethos that finds its ultimate expression in the assertion that fairness has no place in a society dominated by winners and losers. As William Davies points out, competition in a market-driven social order allows a small group of winners to emerge while at the same time sorting out and condemning the vast majority of institutions, organizations and individuals “to the status of losers.”