Alexander Bard on Sun, 24 Apr 2016 17:20:17 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Guardian > Monbiot > Neoliberalism

Dear Brian & Co

Thanks for an excellent posting. However, regardless of whether
the current malaise is factual or rather just medial, but your
questions "So, why did Germany veer away from being a society
oriented toward labor unions, social welfare and complete inclusion,
to gradually become the society that promotes unequal competition
and savage inequality on a European scale? And why is there such
a broad consensus around that transformation within Germany
itself?" do of course find their answer in the West Germany vs
East Germany storytelling that has dominated German (and European)
politico-historical discourse over the last 25 years.

West Germany as a proto-socialist experiment died when the other
European social democracies reached the end of the road, namely in
the 1980s when workers themselves resisted and finally gave up on
taking over the means of production completely (by realising they were
unadept at doing that job by themselves and so turned their backs on
Social Democracy and eventually headed for the Extreme Right instead).
Soon afterwards, by coincidence, Eastern Europe under the Soviet
Union, collapsed and the ordoliberal (not neo-liberal) gospel found
wide acceptance: If you workers/voters accept widespread inequalities
rather than obsess with economic equalities you will all be better
off. You will be West Germany, only more of it, with even more TV
channles, but we guarantee you will not be East Germany (equality
sure, but under duress and extreme boredom; therefore widely resented
and escaped).

Or do you somehow believe the fall of the Berlin Wall was merely a
propaganda trick? Or even more so, would the wall's fall have been
met by disapproval from a Foucault who jerked off to the Iranian
revolution in Tehran a decade before? Since then, European socialists
of all colours have done a terrible job at "selling their vision" as
if they could ignore the misery of Eastern Europe under the Soviets,
and for good reasons. Which is precisely why we have arrived at the
current situation which is certainly not the end of "neoliberalism"
but rather ordoliberalism's split into two dominating sub-ideologies:
the centre-right conservative-nationalist liberal agenda and the
centre-left progressive-internationalist liberal agenda (where I
suppose we all support the second alternative at the ballot boxes
since it does take climate change seriously).

So my opinion is that clumsily throwing these two camps (that both far
outweigh any formal lefist agenda left in Europe) under the umbrella
of "neo-liberalism" hardly does the eventual Marxist cause any good.
We need to do better. And that means a revival on a spiritual level:
Reformulating political empathy in the age of digitalisation, mass
migration, automatisation and robotisation (the system no longer turns
us into blind slaves, it turns us into transparent redundants for
God's sake). The right way to then approach Foucault (who by the way
never used the term neoliberalism) is of course to ask ourselves what
he would have said about the current situation. Not what he forgot to
say while he was too busy working on his life as a work of art in the
Paris leather dungeons 40 years ago. Right?

We might all dislike ordoliberalism. We might all agree it is
unacceptable as some kind of end of capitalist history. But it is
a far far better alternative than Vladimir Putin, Boris Johnson
and/or Marine Le Pen who are its current and far worse, climate
change-denying opponents. Which should answer your opening questions
regarding the continous popularity and acceptance of ordoliberalism in
post-protestant Europe rather well, don't you think? Unless you're an
accelerationist in the Nick Landian mode, I guess. ;-) Those are my
ten cents. Over and out.

Best intentions
Alexander Bard

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