Wow, McGuigan even recognizes – albeit grudgingly and with an awkward nod towards the whiny Melissa McEwan types – that neoliberalism clearly benefited women in developed countries. 

This is unheard of among contemporary theorists. They are usually hysterically attached to the Howard Zinnian delusion that the heights of female liberation were achieved in the pre-colombian Americas. 

New Favorite Theorist

Yes, Bauman is dead. But the good news is that I have a new favorite theorist, Jim McGuigan. He writes about the many ways in which neoliberalism seduces by hiding behind the mask of coolness. 

I like McGuigan because he doesn’t schizophrenically refuse to notice the patently obvious, like pretty much all the rest of Marxist (and there is no other kind) theorists do, and recognizes openly that capitalism has delivered for an enormous number of people. 

In the 1st-world countries, young people don’t fight for bare survival. They have needs of a higher order, if we want to go Maslowian for a second. It’s normal for such young people to be attracted by the glamor of Hollywood, Vegas, YouTube and reality TV. 

Artistic professions have always been precarious. 

So how do you get young people to embrace and eagerly seek out precariousness? By investing all jobs they can get with an aura of pseudo-artistic, Hollywoodian creativity. They’ll think the precarious lifestyle is cool and non-conformist, and you’ll be able to milk them cheaply. 

By the way, one after another young chronicler of precarious, part-time job markets reports that there is a great sense of excitement and exhilaration that one gets from this sort of life. There is also fear and anxiety, of course. But the intensity of pleasure is part of it, too. I’ve observed this in Spanish literature of the crisis, and McGuigan confirms, in these very words. 

The Dam

It is naive to expect that the redistribution of wealth from you and me to the very rich will be stopped on the initiative of the very rich, whether they are called Trump or Obama.

If there is any hope of stopping – or maybe just reducing a bit – this redistribution that’s been going on for 40 years, it will arise from our efforts. We need to build a dam, and it will have to start out by being an emotional dam that will prevent our energy and feelings from flowing towards the very people who are our class enemy. 

Because they have already built such a one-way dam that prevents them from even noticing the humanity of somebody like me and you. 

Neoliberal Structures of Feeling

If you want to avoid disappointment, never attach emotionally to or identify with anybody who is rich. 

Rich people – politicians, movie stars, famous musicians – are not capable of caring about you and your interests. They care about one thing: how to get even richer. (And asking why they need more money if they already have billions is like asking you why you have to eat today if you already ate yesterday).

They will get richer either in ways that will hurt you a lot or in ways that will hurt you a bit less. That’s it, there’s nothing else to it. 

The very structure of emotional life in neoliberal societies fosters emotional attachment to the very rich. The wealth gap is growing, the inequality soars but people don’t notice because, in their imaginary, the wealthy are as close as a bunch of  loving and caring relatives.