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May 06, 2007

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Ken

Ha! Now that was funny.

gpatrick

I am in favor of foregrounding neoliberalism in discussions of our present-day crises. David Harvey’s “A Brief History of Neoliberalism” should be required reading. But are the array of consumer “pleasures” available today properly (wholly) neoliberal? Maybe this is so, as the twin hammers of deregulation and privatization smash up everything into commodity form. Education (like you describe) but also nature (vacations! therapy!) and human relationships. But in the days of embedded liberalism, of Keynes and the compromise between labor and capital (weirdly mythic and bygone for today’s left) was it any different?

I do find your argument appealing, but I question whether our libidinal investment in consumption is the tie that binds Americans to the current economic reality. Market abstinence as political action, while possibly a step in the right direction, strikes me as still rooted in lifestyle and identity. (e.g.: the leftist couple who goes off the grid and raises their kids on homegrown sprouts.)

A discipline of sacrifice may be the solution. But let’s be less ambiguous. What is required – time, money, collectivization, direct action and thus in today’s world, the risk of financial suicide, jail, and being labeled terrorist – comes with too great a cost for the majority. This is precisely because of the institutionalization of neoliberal policy. Not only has the ridiculous economics of Mont Pelerin taken the piss out of, if not destroyed, most forms of social solidarity, it has made it a life risk to reinvigorate those forms.


Kenneth Rufo

Why isn't the pronouncement of the necessity of sacrifice a source of enjoyment, an anti-ideological (i.e. ideological) thought-commodity?

Jodi

Kenneth--it can be, as when the Party under Stalin demanded all sorts of sacrifices from Party members and the people. This is why Zizek refrains from introducing a cause or purpose or new Master signifier or big Other in the name of which sacrifices must be made, to avoid the problem of perverse enjoyment.

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