allan siegel on Sun, 24 Apr 2016 23:26:04 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Monbiot - neoliberalism redux

   Hello again,

   Some fragmentary remarks.

   Brian is spot on with the following:

   "For Foucault, capitalism is not a single, essentially unified system
   bearing essential contradictions, as the classical Marxists still
   think. Rather, it is a thoroughly political process and therefore it is
   susceptible of reformulation at each turning point or crisis. Now, you
   can respond like the Regulation school or even Deleuze and Guattari,
   and say that capitalism continually changes certain axiomatic
   propositions, in order that its major principle of endless accumulation
   through labor exploitation can continue. That's what I think. But such
   a statement still demands that one understand each new bundle of
   axioms, with its inner variations and their political
   origins, as well as their specific consequences. I don't see any
   other way to confront neoliberalism.

   Two points are key here, seeing "capitalism.. [as] a thoroughly
   political process and therefore it is susceptible of reformulation at
   each turning point or crisis." and the necessity or ability to grapple
   with "each new bundle of axioms" if any form of viable ideological
   alternative is able to sustain itself in the face of the
   neoliberalism's relentless onslaught.

   In this context what is sometimes difficult to comprehend, or come to
   terms with, is the multi-pronged dimensions of this bundle of axioms
   and their historical depth.

   For example, "Bentham's formula: `the more strictly we are watched, the
   better we behave.' " As Dardot & Laval point out this is one of the
   governing principles of neoliberal rationality. And, "bureaucrats must
   as far as possible conduct themselves like entrepreneurs." These
   principles lie at the heart of neoliberal governing policies.

   So, the corollary to capitalism's ability to reformulate or retool
   itself - not just during periods of crisis - is the manner in which
   seek to manage social relations. Thus we have Lippman's 80 year old
   formulation in which "the agenda of neo-liberalism was guided by the
   need for constant adaptation [emphasis added] of human beings... based
   on general unrelenting competition." These concepts have now become so
   entrenched that what is now called for is a complete re-imagining of
   the web of relationships that link governmental bodies with the
   corporate world and similarly the a re-imagining of the political
   processes that underpin the neoliberal status quo.

   This task is formidable in that it requires dismantling the false
   consciousness that permeates neoliberal social reality; Foucault saw
   most clearly that neoliberalism was "a political project that
   endeavours to create a social reality that it suggests already exists."
   In such a world it is not difficult to imagine droves of
   chicken-littles who swallow the `daily news' and consume endlessly to
   prevent the sky from falling.


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