Another Neoliberal Trick

Here’s another trick of Russian neoliberalism. The authorities contact a mother of a dead soldier and tell her, “We buried your son. Here’s the bill for what it cost us. 62,000 rubles. Pay or we’ll put a lien on your apartment.” They paid nothing, of course, but how is the poor broad going to prove it? This whole war is a pretext for a capital transfer upwards, like everything in neoliberalism.

The Analogy Machine

One thing we can do for ourselves that would be enormously beneficial is to learn to switch off the analogy-making machine in our heads.

A simple example. People miss crucial symptoms that could get them diagnosed early because they don’t perceive them as symptoms. They only notice the symptoms they observed or heard of before. Nothing outside of their experience registers.

This doesn’t mean that some analogies can’t be useful. But it’s a great idea to accept that there are many things in the world that are unlike anything we have experienced.

The Cost of Contrarianism

Year 1898 was a very painful time for Latin America. It was the year when everything changed. Spain went away for good, and the US made it known that it would dominate the hemisphere from now on.

The fear and the humiliation that Latin Americans experienced in 1898 (and every year since then) gave birth to contrarianism. What is the US associated with the most? Democracy and capitalism. To many people this meant that Latin America had to be against both to continue existing as something other than a US backwater. Almost immediately after the devastating blow of 1898, Latin American philosophers, scholars and artists began to argue that democracy and capitalism were for primitive, stupid people incapable of any intellectual or artistic achievements.

Latín America spent the next 100+ years trying to cling desperately to socialism and authoritarianism. It still wasn’t spared an ounce of the US’s meddling or overbearance, of course. Contrarianism can’t effect a separation because it draws you inexorably towards the very thing you try to flee.

For everybody else, the twentieth century ended in 1991. For Latin America, it goes on. The pouting against the US is still the favorite pastime and its costs are still high. These things go both ways, though. Latin America got its revenge by making its victim cult fashionable everywhere in the West.

Quote of the Day

Narcissists cause few psychological problems to themselves, being happy to deny the truth about their disorder forever and assume the world is to blame for everything that goes wrong for them. It’s the husbands, wives, children and colleagues of narcissists that seek therapy in their thousands—literally—because of the suffering inflicted on them by the narcissists in their lives.

Sophie Hannah, Kind of Cruel