Neoliberal Structures of Feeling

Neoliberal mentality relies on the following principles:

– I am what I say I am

– individuals should be free to choose whatever they want

– there should be no constraints placed by community, family, nature, society, etc on the choices individuals make

– all individuals are in a constant state of competition with each other for dwindling resources. Somebody has an advantage on me (aka privilege) at all times and that’s intolerable

– everybody is ultimately lonely and everybody is ultimately out to get each other

– there is no attachment or loyalty greater than loyalty to the desires of one’s self

– new is good, old is bad. Younger is always better than older. Freshness is better than experience or familiarity

– everything is a market, everybody is a product

– the role of other human beings in our lives is the same as that of products. They must maximize our pleasure. If they don’t, they should be discarded

– permanent links, especially if they haven’t been freely chosen, should be discarded

Once you have made these ideas the basis of your worldview, how can you seriously claim you will work against their economic manifestations? The neoliberal economy will be the result every time, no matter how many times you say it’s not your goal.

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10 thoughts on “Neoliberal Structures of Feeling”

      1. Isn’t “progressive” just a term for liberal that was invented when liberal became a bad word? And hasn’t a large part of the liberal wing or group gone neoliberal? I haven’t, but then I’m a left liberal at least, if not socialist or anarchist or something, and I’m something of a traditionalist. Yet for some purposes, in some surveys, depending what the options were, I’d check “progressive.” So what I would say is that “progressivism” isn’t a thing, or doesn’t have a clear meaning, and that some so-called progressives, even a significant swath, do participate in this structure of feeling.

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          1. I don’t know that you can really call it leftist – it does invoke some 18th century values. I do think you can say that some, or many positions called “progressive” do participate in the neoliberal structure of feeling, as the post points out.

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      2. Progressivism, to me, means strengthening the support of the nation state to collect taxes and provide for people what they cannot easily provide for themselves, such as education, safety regulations, air traffic control, good roads, protected parks, etc. This does not have much to do with what you described above. As Z noted below, it became a substitute for the word liberal when conservatives succeeded in making ‘liberal’ a bad word, beginning in about 1967 or so. The radical left at the time picked up on this conservative effort enthusiastically. A commonly heard aphorism there was: “What is a liberal but an intelligent conservative?”

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        1. You also said you were for open borders. How can you strengthen support for nation-state with open borders? It’s like strengthening support for drug-free living by injecting heroin.

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    1. Great article. There is also an issue of impressionable and suggestible people who develop all kinds of very real symptoms in response to being told they might.

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