Masters of the Universe
“No one knows who will live in this cage of the future, or whether at the end of this tremendous development entirely new prophets will arise, or there will be a great rebirth of old ideas and ideals, or if neither, mechanized petrification, embellished with a sort of convulsive self-importance. For of the last stage of this cultural development,it might well be truly said ‘specialist without spirit, sensualists without heart.’ This nullity imagines it has attained a level of civilization never before achieved.”
“The more I think about this neo-liberal ideology the more it explains. Intelligent design, Debords concept of the Spectacle, the neo-con phenomena, even Foucaults concept of creating “governable” subjects through “bio-power” find inter-connectivity under this umbrella doctrine. Let’s see if I can explain it.
As mentioned in a previous post, neo-liberalism is anything but liberal. Engles explains how “Oppression by force was replaced by corruption; (this could be ideals, or language) the sword, as the first social lever was replaced by gold”. Conservative judge Janice Brown explains a guiding tenet of neo-liberalism as “the right to express ones individuality and essential human dignity through the free use of property is just as important as the right to do so through free speech, the press, exercise of religion” This is the philosophical side of this powerful new religion and power is the key to understanding it. Gold and property are distributed by the markets “invisible hand”, itself an emergent, self organizing principle, an “Intelligent Design” where this same market provides ethical guides for behavior and where Truth can be located. Just as in the education discourse, this economic “design” is couched in technocratic-empirico- scientific terminology, a façade of rationality to explain its strict hierarchical, reactionary structure. The neoliberal religion reserves a privileged social status for the Entrepreneur, that icon of aggressive, competitive social- Darwinian excellence. This Ann Rayndian exemplar dismisses systems or processes (such as democracy) and finds the concept of nations and corporations interchangeable. Market acts are social acts. The Good and Just are determined by their profitability. Neo-liberals exist to liberate us from liberalism.
How is this expropriation accomplished? Debord aptly called these “religious” forms a modern state system of “molecular, integral, invisible control.” Tocqueville believed “Modern tyranny leaves the body free and attacks the soul” Adorno said, “the deceived masses are today captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are. Immovably they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them.” This is the hegemonic control of Gramsci, the biopower of Foucault which is “exercised over members of a population so that their sexuality and their individuality are constituted in certain ways that are connected with issues of national policy, including the machinery of production. In this way populations can be controlled and adjusted in accordance with economic processes.” Governability, in the case of neoliberalism a religious force, is obtained not by a totalizing, deterministic or oppressive form of power but by bio-power. This molecular aspect of socialization is not limited to the conservative project, liberals and socialists are just as interested in the project of the “new man”, and the difference lies in the oppositional definitions of justice and their relationship to truth. This is not to say the use of force is banned, only that it is kept in reserve.
Liberalism, as a philosophy, emphasized the “improvability of men.” Rousseau gave fair warning that “He who dares to undertake the establishment of a people (as in WE the People) should feel that he is, so to speak, in a position to change human nature.” Conservatives (neo-liberals, neo-conservatives included) see instead fixed grades of men. Theirs is a rejection of modernity and a return to notions of an “honorable elite” of noblesse oblige, and a ruling order ordained by the rules of authority and tradition. In this Hobbesian world, men will always be pitted against one another, the project is to establish order and any moral consideration is bypassed for expediency. Obfuscation, the corruption of language, the discarding of truth and the unequal treatment of men are all necessary if somewhat brutish means to an end. Even slaughter, as distasteful as it may seem, may be a needed form of control in the last resort. In this cynical world view, to paraphrase Fuerbach, the sign is more efficient than the thing signified, the copy more effective than the original, representation can take the place of reality, appearance is more helpful than essence,” the truth is considered profane and only illusion is sacred. And neo-liberal is liberal.