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