The New Role of the Self

As Foucault famously pointed out, the modern state earns the subjects’ loyalty by at least to some degree promoting their prosperity and security. When the state steps away from those obligations (ask I, not Foucault), how does it earn the citizens’ loyalty? 

That’s actually quite easy. It becomes an Oprah. And everybody loves Oprah. The draw of somebody like Oprah is twofold:

1. She entertains

2. She soothes the anxieties awakened by the liquefaction of existence and the erosion of sociality by peddling the image of a self-sufficient neoliberal subject who can achieve success through a skillful management of self-help techniques. 

Entertaining and soothing. And every once in a decade giving a free car to a dozen lucky schmucks. That’s the recipe. 

Look at the current US government and tell me it’s not exactly like this. 


One thought on “The New Role of the Self”

  1. Jennifer Kesler:

    And there’s nothing quite like idly flipping past Oprah, noticing that she’s talking about great money saving tips, and discovering everything she suggests cutting back on is stuff you’ve never ever once in your life indulged in. Christ.


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