Tell Me It’s Going to Be OK: Social Retreat Under Neoliberalism

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From The Baffler: “Given that we spend most of our waking hours in an alienated, desperate grind to obtain or maintain a life-sustaining job, blaming ourselves for every snag along the way, gospels of reassurance and self-care are precious cargo. We are denied the ability to seek comfort from colleagues, neighbors, or—heaven forbid—comrades, because neoliberalism has turned them into our competition. Instead, disaffected souls are relentlessly steered back into the thrall of a marketplace where we can access, individually, little hits of succor. […]

But here’s the truly wonderful thing about neoliberalism—as it turns us all into paranoid, jealous schemers, it offers to sell us bromides to ameliorate the very bad feelings of self-doubt and alienation it conjures in our dark nights of the soul. Neoliberalism has not only given us crippling anxiety, but also its apparent remedy. It is no coincidence that as we become more nervous, ‘wellness’ and ‘self-care’ have become mainstream industries. Over the last few decades, workplaces have become ever more oppressive, intensely tracking workers’ bodies, demanding longer hours, and weakening workers’ bargaining rights while also instituting wellness and mentoring programs on an ever greater scale. […]

Anxiety, and especially depression, as the late social critic Mark Fisher noted, often have social causes, but we are led to believe that we suffer individually and must struggle alone. Fisher’s point is that we are prevented from even considering such conditions as social. The treatments on offer, the most common ways to discuss recovery—therapy and pharmaceuticals—are essentially solo journeys that patients undertake. Against this hyper-individualist vision of psychic healing, we do well to highlight Fisher’s core insight that the tools we are given skew how we understand the world and our place in it. Language, typically the most essential method by which we articulate our affective life, can be a most insidious means of our own oppression if co-opted by those who would exploit us.

There is a reason why re-emergent words and phrases like ‘solidarity,’ ‘class consciousness,’ ‘mass movement,’ ‘organize,’ and ‘collective struggle,’ sound old-fashioned and in need of a good dusting-off. They didn’t simply fall out of vogue; they were aggressively obsolesced in our everyday lives by a variety of interests—employers, corporations hungrily eyeing public assets—determined to alienate us from each other in the interest in marketizing our souls for their own benefit. In return, they bestowed to us a self-oriented language of supposed care, that was never really meant to liberate us from the sources of our anxiety and depression. It’s only there to blunt the pain temporarily—long enough to enable us to move on to the next TaskRabbit assignment, Uber client, or briskly managed election cycle.”

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6 COMMENTS

  1. I had to look up what liberalism even means https://www.britannica.com/topic/liberalism

    Holy cow, the term neo liberalism fits all that stuff on TV and internet news isn’t even close to what I read.

    “In a liberal democracy there are affairs that do not concern the state. Such affairs may range from the practice of religion to the creation of art and the raising of children by their parents.”

    Neo-liberalism – Destroy religion and the family structure then have the children raised by the state.

    • “Neo-liberalism” = “Destroy religion and the family structure then have the children raised by the state.” That was the goal of today’s “neoliberal” “mental health professionals” who attacked my family, their brainwashed, greed only bought out religions, and the satanic, both public and private, education system to which my children were unfortunately subjected.

      These “neoliberal” systems are most definitely satanic. And I’m once again dealing with brainwashed “neoliberals,” who want to maintain these satanic systems. Who know I’m an “insightful” artist who is aware of the fact the systems are satanic, or are at least they are close to understanding this.

      A “doubting Thomas” artist/psychologist just handed over a legalese contract basically asking to steal all my artwork and control my art and life. Because a Lutheran church just had a show of my truth seeking artwork, and freaked out because too much truth was blatantly obvious in my work. Albeit all the imagery in my artwork was inspired by other great artists throughout history already, so none of my imagery is actually controversial.

      I was told to be in, but not of, the world by that religion in my childhood.

      “1 John 2:15-17 15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

      And that church’s mission statement asked me to “get everyone else with love and the word of God,” which is the story of what my subconscious self supposedly did within the spiritual/dream realm, that I’ve painted.

      Chagall, a Jew who lived through the Nazi Jewish psychiatric holocaust, did seemingly also paint the love story within our dreams, and the real life psychiatric attacks we dealt with, thus he is my favorite artist. And I’m supposedly a “Sharon who functions as a fold in the time of the atonement for the Jews,” according to the story of my dreams. Although I’m also an “of course she looks like mother Mary” gal, so “Mr. Pope” wasn’t hard to get either.

      These scientifically “invalid,” DSM deluded “neo-liberals,” who despise and want to murder all the spiritual people of all the religions, are the problem. We need to get rid of the scientific psychiatric dictatorship that is based upon scientific fraud, and go back to allowing people to believe in God, and a mutually beneficial society for all.

    • CAT — “Neoliberalism” is different from what has traditionally been meant by liberalism. It’s the sister of neo-conservatism, depending on whether you’re Democrat or Republican. Two versions of totalitarianism. This is somewhat true of old-fashioned “liberalism” as well, in that it supports capitalism, but “your father’s liberalism” contained serious elements of humanism which are missing today almost entirely. “Neoliberalism” is liberalism on steroids in a sense, sans the humanistic elements. The bottom line is $$$ for corporations. (That’s my best definition, someone else might have a more “official” one.)

      This is an excellent article.

    • Depends on who’s doing the referring, but it’s all the same conversation. Whatever you call it this article does a great job of articulating it. They want to “help” us conform to their fantasy utopia, which will never exist, at least while they’re in charge.