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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Neoliberalism and Posterity

Birth rates are the lowest in the countries where the triumph of neoliberal mentality has been most complete because the idea of posterity can’t coexist with the logic of extracting immediate and maximum profit and shortening, as much as possibly, the road to gratification.

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14 thoughts on “Neoliberalism and Posterity

  1. AcademicLurker on said:

    Also, people generally want some modicum of stability in their lives before having children, and neoliberalism promotes constant instability and precarity.

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  2. Shakti on said:

    Monaco, Japan, Andorra and South Korea are the most neoliberal places on Earth?

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  3. Re plummeting birth rates. I started watching The Handmaid’s Tale on Hulu. It’s bloodcurdling. It takes me several days to calm down after viewing each episode.
    The question is: what if the birth rate is low all around due to an environmental catastrophe (so you can’t just rely on immigration)? All the progress on women’s rights would be rolled back in a second and women would end up, one way or another, forced to bear children.

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    • To be honest, I wouldn’t take Atwood’s novel very seriously. I’m not watching the series because the novel was very tone-death towards the real issues feminism faces today. The premise is very forced, and ultimately the novel serves the neoliberal goals of demonizing child-bearing.

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      • I am sure you are right. I didn’t read the book and apparently the show deviates a fair bit from it. It’s visually quite stunning (the bold colors of the women’s uniforms against a bleak colors of the world; the contrast between the flashbacks to what happened before, which tell us about the rise of Gilead, with the current state; fleshing out some of the characters that I understand were underdeveloped in the book…) Anyway, if their intention was for feminist female viewers to lose sleep, I can attest that they’ve successfully achieved it. I feel like I’ve punched in the gut after every episode. (My poor husband seems as traumatized as I am after viewing all the abuse and oppression.)

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      • Shakti on said:

        To be honest, I wouldn’t take Atwood’s novel very seriously. I’m not watching the series because the novel was very tone-death towards the real issues feminism faces today.
        “Tone-death?”
        :p
        Apparently the Hulu series is updated in some ways from the mid-eighties novel. (I have not seen the series even though it has Elizabeth Moss.)

        All the progress on women’s rights would be rolled back in a second and women would end up, one way or another, forced to bear children.
        So patriarchal logic is inescapable?
        I remember a feminist critique of a libertarian theory derived from Susan Moller Okin. (I’d link to Gender Justice and the Family but there are no excerpts).
        It posited that making humans is the most valuable economic activity. However women do most of the work biologically and men often throw their gametes away. Even when men don’t, they’re done with their part biologically once they orgasm. Since it is easier to establish chain of ownership or who made a human with much more surety through women, a pure libertarian society could end being run by old matriarchs who own everyone.

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        • Right now we are in the midst of seeing an economy bring created where more and more people are rendered superfluous. Worrying about a shortage of people seems a bit out of place.

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  4. DWeird on said:

    Posterity isn’t all about children, or at least not necessarily your own. You can contribute well enough through words and actions. And I am a little leery of framing the issue as one of insufficiently high birth rates, especially when the world population is as high as it is. Population growth rate is decreasing, and peacefully, at that? Lovely and good.

    Plus, though there’s definitely a cultural component to people getting children later in their lives, I would venture a guess (and I would love it if I had an in-house statistician to poke when these guessing moods take me, hint hint) that the declining birth rates are at least partially a knock-on effect of increased lifespan. The more people too old to have children there are in proportion to the rest of the population, the lower the total birth rate is going to be, even if the flat number of fresh new humans per annum remains static. If we all became immortal tomorrow but our virilities and fecundities didn’t, the statistically measured birth rate would become next to zero given enough time.

    Sure, this is a novel situation our political institutions are unprepared for, and this creates a whole slew of new problems, but declining birth rate is not a problem in itself.

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    • I agree it’s not a problem in itself. What is a problem, though, is that people who are not connected to the future with blood, sweat and tears are likely to develop a certain attitude to the world that can carry a host of problems. I’m not talking about individuals, of course, but about entire societies.

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