coromandal


Striving
November 30, 2019, 3:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here is a glimpse of a truly dystopian state of affairs within which we willingly live. It’s radically not free. We’re in it’s thrall, we neither see it, nor criticize it, nor act to dismantle it.

No in typical dystopian fashion we have come somehow to not only tolerate it but also to defend it and finally to enshrine it as a central tenet of our society.

It is the mad striving for status and achievement.

Though we willingly live with it, and help to sustain it by our complicity, there are outside forces that greatly benefit from maintaining its destructive effects. These insidiously indoctrinate parents who in turn put undue pressure on their children.

The towns are enshrouded in a dense fog of striving, competition, anxiety and depression.

Surely there is a way out, from dystopia to freedom, through a rejection of the reductive, economic, manipulative society, to a new paradigm that facilitates thriving in every phase of life.

Given what we know about recent changes in the American sociocultural environment, it would be a surprise if there weren’t elevated levels of anxiety among young people. Their lives center around production, competition, surveillance, and achievement in ways that were totally exceptional only a few decades ago. All this striving, all this trying to catch up and stay ahead—it simply has to have psychological consequences. The symptoms of anxiety aren’t just the unforeseen and unfortunate outcome of increased productivity and decreased labor costs; they’re useful. . . . Restlessness, dissatisfaction and instability—which Millennials report experiencing more than generations past—are negative ways of framing the flexibility and self-direction employers increasingly demand. . . . All of these psychopathologies are the result of adaptive developments.

Kids These Days, Malcolm Harris



Just submit
November 9, 2019, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Was the devil banished to hell because he questioned and ultimately refused an arbitrary demand: to submit to God without debate or discussion?

And likewise are we confronted with a similar manipulation in the neoliberal system: believe and obey and if there is failure, it is your fault and you deserve the social and economic purgatory in which you find yourself?

The ethics of the market fundamentalist project are manifest in the just world hypothesis: all noble actions are justly rewarded, and all evil deeds properly punished. They are also the precepts of meritocracy, that the cause always merits the effect.

There is simply too much evidence of the emptiness of these claims, mountains of receipts to show that what you do has often very little to do with where you find yourself.

The system within which we operate is designed to have virtually no relation to your dreams and labour, while claiming to be a milieu in which you can thrive.

The house of cards collapses when it is revealed that there is no relation between the claims of the dominant orthodoxy – that the systems in place are just and fair – and the outcomes your life, whether good or bad. When you see the lies inherent in the system you may free yourself; when masses of people see them there is a fundamental shift toward freedom.

Or you can just submit.

In my book the demons are not outside forces or evil people like Trump within our own system but rather it’s us. The system is making us into demons. And when I read the stories that the theologians told about how the devil came about, it seemed to me that he was put in a situation where it was impossible, where he was given this meaningless arbitrary demand to just submit to God with no question. And it was when he asked questions or when he resisted a little bit that he was consigned to an eternity in hell. And this is a very extreme case but I think that the basic logic of entrapment works throughout the entire neoliberal system. That we are confronted with these choices and somehow the bad outcomes that keep happening are the result of our individual choices like we should have chosen the environmentally friendly toothpaste if we didn’t want climate change to destroy us all.

Dr. Adam Kotsko on Going Underground with Afshin Rattansi



Alienation, exploitation, history
November 9, 2019, 12:58 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Capitalism keeps us from being creative and realizing our potential.

It threatens starvation and homelessness to extract our work and our value.

Under it’s influence, social structures, ideas and cultures grow out of and naturally legitimate the underlying and most efficient economic systems.

The Marxist theories of alienation, exploitation, and technological materialism, respectively, offer counterarguments to these capitalist trends and orthodoxies.

The effects of these Marxist critiques could result in creative fulfillment, security, stability, and the flowering of a post homo economicus culture.

In my view, Marx makes three key contributions to the history of thought, each of which has been further refined and added to by those who have been influenced by him:

1. The theory of alienation, which criticises capitalism for denying us the opportunity to be creative or to otherwise self-actualize.

2. The theory of exploitation, which criticizes capitalism for forcing workers to surrender some of the value of what they produce by threatening them with starvation and homelessness.

3. The theory of history, also known as “historical materialism,” “dialectical materialism,” and even “technological determinism,” which alleges that more competitive economic systems out-compete less competitive systems and that social structures, ideas, and cultures develop in a manner which serves to legitimate and support these economic system. In other words, the mode of production, or the “base,” determines the social relations, or the “superstructure.”

How Zizek Should Have Replied To Jordan Peterson, by Benjamin Studebak, Current Affairs



A Trap
July 28, 2019, 2:19 pm
Filed under: brave new world, chronotopes | Tags: , , ,

Neoliberalism is a very clever trap, a labyrinth, except instead of being built to contain the beast minotaur, is made to ensnare you and me. All under the guise of freedom.

In the neoliberal labyrinth there are two choices both of which lead to … further entrapment. The way out is a girl, her boyfriend, a piece of string, and a sword updated to the 21st century.

Neoliberalism’s appeal is its promise of freedom in the form of unfettered free choice. But that freedom is a trap: we have just enough freedom to be accountable for our failings, but not enough to create genuine change. If we choose rightly, we ratify our own exploitation. And if we choose wrongly, we are consigned to the outer darkness—and then demonized as the cause of social ills.

Review of Neoliberalism’s Demons by Adam Kotsko



The merit lie
May 2, 2019, 1:31 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Too much belief is a sign of our times, belief in markets, merit, credentials, competition. We think we’re free but we’re trapped in a dark age captured by limiting ideologies, in perpetual struggle against each other, without the skills to free ourselves. One way out is to know the insidious nature of the beliefs that hold us captive. To know that merit for instance is a lie. Worth also to know that it’s a lie that holds us in a system that is damaging to many lives. If you’re on the top you’re smug, if you’re on the bottom you’re in a desperate angry place. Is too much belief part of a consuming feedback loop: belief makes us passive to understand its corrupting nature and to act to free ourselves?

There is no fair way to create a meritocracy. This is because the notion of “merit” is itself loaded with unfair premises. People will always have differing life histories, capacities, and opportunities, and so any assumption that those who “rise to the top” of a competition have superior deservingness will be false. That doesn’t mean that everyone is equally qualified to be a surgeon or a structural engineer or a social worker, or that there should be no evaluations to make sure the people who have certain jobs can do them. Instead, it means that we can never conclude that people got those qualifications did so because they “earned” it more than others, and we should be skeptical of any idea of a “fair competition.”

Admit Everyone, Nathan J Robinson, Current Affairs, March 2018



virtue offsets
February 3, 2019, 4:44 pm
Filed under: brave new world, departure lounge | Tags: , , ,

The Good Samaritan

In the age of neoliberalism and market fundamentalism, even virtue is put to work for the marketplace. In the same way that a big polluter can buy carbon offsets to assuage his guilt – and avoid paying for his great big pile of toxic externalities – he can donate to a charity. He can even donate to his own charity!

But there’s an even more effective way of offsetting your financial and environmental sins. Lo a great host of uber virtuous now circles the globe and deigns occasionally to descend among us mortals to hear confession, be the balm, assuage the guilt, and offer redemption for massive sins perpetrated against the earth and her people.

It’s a good deal. It doesn’t cost anything and it results in the preservation of an unsustainable status quo.

Here is an excerpt from Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal:

What I concluded from observing all this is that there is a global commerce in compassion, an international virtue- circuit featuring people of unquestionable moral achievement, like Bono, Malala, Sting, Yunus, Angelina Jolie, and Bishop Tutu; figures who travel the world, collecting and radiating goodness. They come into contact with the other participants in this market: the politicians and billionaires and bankers who warm themselves at the incandescent virtue of the world-traveling moral superstars.

What drives this market are the buyers. Like Wal-Mart and Goldman Sachs “partnering” with the State Department, what these virtue-consumers are doing is purchasing liberalism offsets, an ideological version of the carbon offsets that are sometimes bought by polluters in order to compensate for the smog they churn out.

At the apex of all this idealism stands the Clinton Foundation, a veritable market-maker in the world’s vast, swirling virtue-trade. The former president who stands at its head is “the world’s leading philanthropic dealmaker,” according to a book on the subject. Under his watchful eye all the concerned parties are brought together: the moral superstars, the billionaires, and of course the professionals, who organize, intone, and advise. Virtue changes hands. Good causes are funded. Compassion is radiated and absorbed.

This is modern liberalism in action: an unregulated virtue-exchange in which representatives of one class of humanity ritually forgive the sins of another class, all of it convened and facilitated by a vast army of well-graduated American professionals, their reassuring expertise propped up by bogus social science, while the unfortunate objects of their high and noble compassion sink slowly back into a preindustrial state.

Thomas Frank, Listen Liberal



Mourning and Melancholia
January 26, 2019, 8:09 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Melancholia, Lars von Trier

Mourning is remembering the sad event to forget it. Melancholia is the refusal to forget. Depression is a reaction to profound dislocation and loss, you from the world. The depressive is melancholic; she refuses to forget.

We think depressives are generally too negative and wrong. But research shows that though negative their assessments are surprisingly accurate.

They’re right for instance about climate change. They may be the canary, the bell weather we must heed about a dying world, extinction, the anthropocene, the loss that we feel for a dying world.

There’s a substantial literature on “depressive realism”—the suspicion that depressed people are actually right. In one 1979 study by Lauren B. Alloy and Lyn Y. Abramson, it was found that when compared to their nondepressed peers, depressed subjects’ “judgements of contingency were surprisingly accurate.’”

The depressive is, first of all, one who refuses to forget. In Freud’s account, while mourning is the slow release of emotional ties to something that’s vanished, melancholia is a refusal to let go. It’s not just that climate change is depressing; the determination to stop it has to begin from a depressive conviction: to not just forget that so much has been lost and more is going every day—to keep close to memory. Or as Paffard puts it, “You need to hold what’s at stake in your head enough to remember why it’s important to take action.”

Tropical Depressions, Sam Kriss and Ellie Mae O’Hagan, The Baffler