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Clarissa's Blog

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

A Gift for Neoliberalism 

Finally somebody says something worthwhile about the UK’s terror attacks. From Kenan Malik’s blog:

The influence of institutions that once helped inculcate people with a sense of obligation to others, from the church to trade unions, has declined. So has that of progressive movements that gave social grievance a political form. The rise of identity politics has fragmented society and narrowed our sense of attachment and belonging. The social and moral boundaries that act as firewalls against inhuman behaviour have weakened.

Malik is absolutely right. National governments neither can nor want to do what they are supposed to be doing, which is to guarantee our welfare. Instead, they try to distract us and prop up their fading legitimacy by endless talk about security. While economic insecurities grow unchecked, the weakened national governments that are eagerly rolling over for liquid capital are displacing the conversation to the realm of increased policing and surveillance. 

As Malik correctly states, however, the kind of terrorism that is battering the UK cannot be legislated away. 

The real problem lies in the atomization of consumerist societies where people can see nothing deserving of greater allegiance than their stupid little “identity.” That’s why I’m so angry at the spectacle of Evergreen’s students. No, of course, they aren’t going to engage in terrorism. But it’s a milder symptom of the same disease: I’m convinced that there is nothing more important than my pouty little sense of grievance and to hell with anything that stands in the way of me expressing it. 

It’s the same with Trump voters and all of those people who can’t quit bashing Bernie supporters. Which is not to say that there is anything wrong with criticizing Bernie, of course. It’s the lack of solidarity with people who are just like you that bugs me. 

This identity obsession is the best gift neoliberalism could have hoped for. While we are distracted by barking at each other, our pockets are being emptied. 

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