Progressive Neoliberalism

Since I’m doing quotes, here is one from the great Nancy Fraser:

In its U.S. form, progressive neoliberalism is an alliance of mainstream currents of new social movements (feminism, anti-racism, multiculturalism, and LGBTQ rights), on the one side, and high-end “symbolic” and service-based business sectors (Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and Hollywood), on the other. In this alliance, progressive forces are effectively joined with the forces of cognitive capitalism, especially financialization. . . The former lend their charisma to the latter. Ideals like diversity and empowerment. . . gloss policies that have devastated manufacturing and what were once middle-class lives.

The Fighters of Utopia

If freedom becomes confused with the leftist utopia, then power necessarily devolves to an elite of ‘freedom fighters’ who can decide when to invoke the ‘exception’ to traditional mass notions of democracy, justice and morality.

Philip Mirowski.

OK, he said “neoliberal utopia” but there is no longer any difference.

Long-awaited Books

In what concerns book reviews, I don’t get the sentence “a long-awaited debut by a new author.” How come people have been waiting for something that nobody knew was going to happen?

I started reading one such “long-awaited debut” yesterday, and it’s a fine novel. A cute, comforting mommy-lit book. But I almost didn’t pick it up at the store because of the gushy “long-awaited” statements on the cover. They always hint that the book is ideological. Thankfully, in this particular novel, the ideological component seems to reside in the author’s race and not the text of the novel.

Propaganda and Desire

The TV ratings of the chief Russian propagandists Olga Skabeeva and Vladimir Solovyov have collapsed. The reason is that they have no wins to report, not even imaginary ones. Now their shows are all about “why are we losing so badly?” And people don’t want to hear that they are losing, so they don’t tune in.

There is an important lesson here. Everybody is excellent at avoiding propaganda when it tells them what they don’t want to hear. No propaganda on the planet can convince people of something they don’t want to believe. Propaganda doesn’t cause desire. It’s desire that causes propaganda.

Consequently, nobody – absolutely nobody – is immune to propaganda. People who are convinced that they are immune are the most likely to fall under its influence.

Nobody is immune because we all have desires. I’m immune to the kind of propaganda peddled by Skabeeva and Solovyov because they have nothing that I desire. But I’m not immune to other kinds.

I spent 15 years in thrall to a particular brand of progressivist propaganda because it flattered my sense of superiority. Note that I say “flattered”, not “created.” The superiority was already there and it was my choice to seek out a system of thinking that would feed it.

Feelings of togetherness, belonging, self-righteousness, importance, clarity and many others are what people seek when they set out to look for comforting conspiracy theories and other propagandistic joys. The need can overcome anybody, and we should all be honest with ourselves about what kind of propaganda would be attractive to us.