1. The neoliberal subjectivity is completely rooted in right now. The past doesn’t exist. It’s evil, it’s wrong, it should go off and die in shame somewhere in a dark corner. Everything that’s good is bright, shiny and new. Everything that existed before is bad. [As a practice exercise, think of examples of this mentality you see every day and think of the economic consequences of this way of thinking.]
2. Everybody is competing with everybody else for dwindling resources. Even if the resources are not dwindling, they are perceived as such. Competition is at the center of every human relationship. [Think about how the concept of privilege arises directly out of this mentality. Or think about the Twitter mob that descended on that kid who won the Heisman Trophy.]
3. Everything is an object of consumption and there’s nothing worse than being prevented from consuming as much as you want. [Think Caitlin Jenner’s joy at finally being able to buy nail polish.]
4. Biological limitations are an affront and should be conjured out of existence. The alienation of humanity beings from their bodies is a great good and should be aggressively promoted. [This is too obvious to need examples.]
5. Coming straight out of the neoliberal obsession with competition and individualism is the belief that all human beings represent a horrible threat and are out to hurt you. [Think microaggressions, safe spaces, etc.]
6. The past should be forgotten (see point 1) and the future doesn’t exist. So consume as much as you can right now. The apocalyptic mentality is as natural to neoliberalism as the rejection of the past. [Again, too many examples.]
7. The function of the state is to facilitate the consumption that these alienated, lonely neoliberal subjects value above all else and help them visit upon each other the anger arising from their competitive resentment. The state also should facilitate the individuals’ alienation from their bodies and minds as much as possible.
In the US, Republicans were the original champions of neoliberalism. Reagan was the first completely and fanatically neoliberal president. He aggressively exported neoliberal policies around the world. As one of the consequences of his neoliberal fanaticism, he was deeply committed to destroying the welfare state and opening borders. The Reagan Amnesty of 1986 is a clear example of that.
Democrats originally resisted neoliberalism. They were for welfare and worker rights. Recently, however, the leftist wing of the party embraced neoliberalism and started promoting its agenda fully and aggressively.
In the meantime, a small faction of the Republican party has gotten disillusioned with neoliberalism and now favors stepping back from it, at least to a degree.
Currently, we are seeing a confrontation between the outdated neoliberalism of the second half of the twentieth century that most Republican politicians cling to in spite of their base’s growing disgust with it and an updated neoliberalism of the 21 century practiced by the Democrats.
Trump fed into the Republican base’s disgust with the party’s fanatical adherence to the neoliberal dogma and won. Bernie fed into this disgust on the Democratic side and lost because there wasn’t enough rage against it in his party.
In the end, however, neoliberalism will win because it’s not solely about economic policy. It’s also a subjectivity. Our way of relating to ourselves and the world. Once you conquer the subjectivity, you have conquered everything else. And that’s already a fait accompli.
In the next post, I will give a list of symptoms of the neoliberal subjectivity so that everybody knows what I’m talking about. The list doesn’t originate from me. I’ve compiled it on the basis of my readings of Zygmunt Bauman, Patricia Ventura, Wendy Brown, Dardot and Laval, Ulrich Beck, Jim McGuigan, Cesar Rendueles, and others. A full bibliography is provided upon request. 😁
A colleague is sick, so I offered to teach her class on Leninism for her. I’m a little worried because it’s not my subject but she gave me her lecture over the phone, and I agree with everything, so it shouldn’t be too bad.
It’s a lot easier to find a substitute when you teach in English, that’s for sure.
Few things are more ridiculous than this bickering over 55 miles of the wall as opposed to 255 miles. If you agree that 55 miles make sense, then why oppose the whole thing? It’s ridiculous.
Truly, what has the much vaunted blue wave produced than a bunch of dumb social media posturers provoking ridiculous scandals.
No, it hasn’t been that long but what’s the likelihood these clowns will suddenly develop a conscience and grow a brain and would start working instead of self-promoting?