Seductive Capitalism

What these articles about the neoliberal economy forget to mention is that it’s exhilarating. This is why I appreciate the scholarship by Jim McGuigan who doesn’t forget about this important aspect.

I walked 5 miles to work on my first day, in formal attire and through a heat wave. And didn’t break a sweat or dishevel my hair, and I’ll never cease to be proud of myself for it.

The planners, the overscheduling, the “it’s only 11 pm, so I can still do a bunch of work” mentality, it’s fun. People wouldn’t do it if it weren’t. Mary from the linked article is super proud of herself. And who’s to say she isn’t entitled to decide what to be proud of.

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14 thoughts on “Seductive Capitalism”

  1. I have a damaged father principle so I don’t think Mary’s story is fun? Maybe I need to find this story “fun”?

    It’s one thing to be working through all this because you run your own profitable business and you want to but this is no more glamorous than being a taxi driver. She’s a contract worker.

    Most people who find this story seductive would prefer this story: A Not-Very-Relatable Post About Taking Zero Maternity Leave and Doing All the Things and Everything Working Out Just Fine

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      1. Read your link, and hey, I was actually watching presidential debates on TV right after Klara was born. And precisely because I wanted to feel normal. I didn’t do any work for a long time because my work requires a huge intellectual investment but my brain was not working. If I had a less intellectual job, I’d love to be able to work just to keep my sense of self.

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      2. But Mary is loving it, so who am I to tell her not to?
        We don’t actually know how Mary feels about it. Everything on this is either 1)Lyft’s blog post (which has been taken down) or 2) other people reacting to Lyft’s blog post.

        Who is this story supposed to appeal to? Who is the audience for this story?

        If I’m a customer, I want a smooth, quick uneventful ride that gets me to my destination on time. I do not want to think about whether the driver is having a medical event or is impaired while driving. Please understand this isn’t about caring about the labor conditions (although there’s that). This is 100% about my convenience and safety.

        If I’m a driver…um why? How is it convenient to me to pick some random up while I’m going through labor? How “flexible” is a job where I need to pick up a random while in labor? There’s a saying that when you’re in business for yourself you get to choose the 80-100 hours a week you work. :/ Where’s the sense of control?

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        1. “Who is this story supposed to appeal to? Who is the audience for this story?”

          • People who will continue working long past 5 pm today for little or no pay because it lets them tap into a certain identity, a certain way of feeling about themselves. It isn’t me but it’s most other academics, for instance.

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  2. BTW, started reading Liquid Modernity by Zygmunt Bauman. Thanks so much for talking about it on this blog!

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    1. I’m glad you are enjoying it! For some sad reason, nobody but ultraconservatives read Bauman who was a passionate Communist. They have appropriated him completely, and in very good ways. I don’t see why he can’t be reclaimed for a progressive cause. Of course, we have to be open to criticizing neoliberalism if we do that, and nobody but ultra-conservatives is.

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      1. Nobody but ultraconservatives is — really, do you think? Or are the people I know really the last Marxians, anarchist sympathizers, etc.? (Most people I talk to seriously are NOT between 30 and 50 years of age, precisely because that seems to be the neoliberal age group and they seem like persons from another planet…)

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        1. This is the most recent text I saw that references Bauman: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-secular-benedict-option/

          It’s extremely conservative but the fellow is working directly with Bauman’s concepts. If there are links to where somebody not conservative is using this framework for public discourse and to popularize these ideas, I’d love to see it. But normally it’s me – and I’m quite conservative – and people who are mega conservative.

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          1. That’s very interesting. Then maybe I will be the first? I’m a leftist, not a liberal or a neoliberal, and this makes me traditional if not conservative. I’ve got a piece going on the neoliberal university that’s going to have these thinkers in it. In Lat. Am. if you read the lefty papers people do use Bauman, etc. – …

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  3. “But Mary is loving it”

    Just as Ludmila was loving working for free gathering potatoes on Saturdays after a full week in a paint factory in Uzbekistan.

    Just as Khadija is loving covering her face in public and not being able to travel without a male guardian’s permission.

    Repressive ideologies can always find people willing to smile for the camera (or say they are behind their veils) and say how great things are.

    Yes, being overbusy and super committed can be tremendous fun for a time in one’s youth the same way that finishing a long shift at work and going straight out with friends to play beer pong and dance till three in the morning can be fun for a time in one’s youth but it’s not a viable long term option.

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    1. “Yes, being overbusy and super committed can be tremendous fun for a time in one’s youth the same way that finishing a long shift at work and going straight out with friends to play beer pong and dance till three in the morning can be fun for a time in one’s youth but it’s not a viable long term option.”

      • Exactly. And that’s precisely what McGuigan says. But have you ever tried explaining to young people that the world doesn’t end tomorrow and they won’t always feel exactly like today and want the same things they do today? And it’s normal. If anybody told me even 10 years ago that I’d find ecstasy in being a suburban mom in the Midwest, I’d shoot them.

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