Reproducing Human Capital

Here is an important quote from Wendy Brown that I want to put here separately:

In their newly economized form, neoliberal states will shed as much as possible the cost of developing and reproducing human capital.

Reproduction, which is an activity that is notoriously resistant to economization, is substituted as much as possible with the very economic activity of importation. Remember how the argument for inviting the 1 million migrants into Germany was very openly that Germans didn’t reproduce enough? That’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

As for developing, that’s obviously public education, healthcare – the welfare state, in short. The state doesn’t serve you. And it definitely can’t make capital serve you. Which means the fantasies of “let’s tax’em and pay for healthcare” are quite silly. Sixty years ago, sure. But today? The best you can expect from the whole arrangement is that everybody else will be terrorized into respecting your million and one very individual, very lonely identities. And you’ll have every gadget and every drug at your disposal to numb yourself into thinking that it’s exactly what you need.

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6 thoughts on “Reproducing Human Capital”

  1. My question here is what’s next. When you look closely it appears that things have in fact gone so far in the neoliberal/neocon direction that there is no coming back. Yet there are these groups, including where I am, who are trying to bring back the idea of the public good. I don’t know what to think.

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    1. There’s no coming back because not enough people want to come back. That’s the problem. As Jim McGuigan says, neoliberalism is so strong because on many levels it works. It takes away a lot but it also gives a lot. And in all of the critiques of it there is an enormous black hole in addressing what it gives and the ways in which it’s seductive.

      As for the public good, you need a public for that. Isolated, constantly suspicious, endlessly aggrieved individuals who believe everybody is out to get them don’t make a public. You need people to agree on basic principles, and how will that happen if everybody believes there’s nothing more precious than their individuality and any external limit on that is the worst violence possible?

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      1. So the things it gives, its ways of seducing, are the consumerism, the alleged individuality, the ability to insist on alleged identities — and — (I really need to read McGuigan better)

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  2. \ And in all of the critiques of it there is an enormous black hole in addressing what it gives and the ways in which it’s seductive.

    From reading blogs, I understood that only around 20 percent will truly benefit from neoliberalism, if not less. For instance, school teachers and other middle-class workers pay for the welfare nation state, but we also benefit from Israeli good and affordable healthcare, public education, laws protecting our work conditions, and even laws forcing everybody to have a pension fund (if that’s the phrase).
    Even self-employed must save for a pension every month.

    Is neoliberalism seductive like the snake misrepresenting the truth to Eve in the Garden of Eden? I understood that very few will enjoy private yachts and their equivalents, while most will imagine this pleasant alternative reality in a drug-induced haze.

    Will middle classes enjoy something real from neoliberalism? I talk about school teachers, programmers, etc. Not about highest earners who are still may be characterized as middle-class.

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    1. I didn’t mean benefit financially. I meant benefit in other ways that people might find a lot more valuable. It’s extremely liberating because it erodes all social bonds and obligations. It recognizes no higher good than individual whims. It erases God, state and authority and places every individual in that role. The feeling of omnipotence we discussed earlier is guilt-producing but also exhilarating.

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  3. \ understood that very few will enjoy private yachts and their equivalents

    I meant “enjoy higher standard of living and better life in general.” Not necessarily yachts. 🙂

    I simply do not see how poor and middle classes will benefit from the destruction of the nation state.

    If Americans truly tend to live in “I may become a millionaire, so must start being against taxes” illusion, they will fit right in psychologically. Till a certain point, at least.

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