I’ve been slowly working my way through Foucault’s Birth of Biopolitics this summer, with a kind of dawning horror at the sheer nihilism of neoliberalism. The end result of this ruling ideology is that we should all be our own individual enterprises, in constant competition with others, making continual economic choices — and with no goal outside the competition itself. Even when we “retire,” we are not at rest, because then above all we need to be savvy managers of our various investments.
All this in the name of freedom! I think we need to be careful here not to jump too quickly to the idea that “freedom” is just a cover for a more sinister agenda — as far as I can tell, the neoliberal theorists sincerely believe that the market is the place where the most authentic form of freedom is instantiated, where people come together to form freely-chosen arrangements (appealing to liberals) and show their true aptitude and worth (appealing to conservatives), all (at least ideally) without the mediation of the coercive force of the state or any inherited tradition. If the market is where freedom happens, then what else can you do but make all of life a market? Yet the result, of course, isn’t really freedom, but the worst totalitarianism of all — a non-stop, exhausting agon with no goal and no prospect of rest (insofar as rest is always only geared toward more effective struggle).
Adam Kotsko, Monasticism and neoliberalism: On Agamben’s The Highest Poverty (via towerofsleep)
Yep. Time for a little reterritorialization but with new and renwed terms and standards.