Sometimes, I throw around the term neoliberalism as if everyone knows what it means. Part of this is due to an allergy I have towards folks who like to reduce their debates to definitions. I was on the debate team in high school and whenever the debate degenerated into some meaningless hairsplitting over definitions, I just wanted to quit. I always thought that debate was a process that was supposed to yield better answers and definition debates never did that. Worse, hairsplitting is something Protestant clergy pride themselves on and as a preacher's kid, I pretty much had my fill of this sort of posturing by 12.
The fundamental problems of debates over definitions are several:
1) because we can never really know exactly what is going on in someone's head, we don't even know if they are expressing their position accurately;Having said this, I do appreciate when someone with the writing chops of George Monbiot decides to define and explain some of the more serious problems associated with the practices of neoliberalism. And the following effort is especially clear. I approve of folks who include outcomes in a discussion of theory. I have discovered in life that this is a highly useful practice. Turns out it matters almost not at all what people claim to believe as religious or similar practice because at the end of the day, the only important issue is, "Are they good neighbors?" This makes it easy because neoliberals are nightmare neighbors.
2) even the most devout hairsplitters have to acknowledge that there is probably widespread agreement on the basics so there is already enough agreement on terms to continue debating more essential issues; and
3) debates over definitions is a loser tactic—its what you do when you know your position is weak—a tactic designed to deliberately waste time.