Sunday , March 29 2020
Home / On French Politics / American Dreamwork

American Dreamwork

Summary:
But more than just attack the realm of politics, and so constrain the reach of popular power, she argues, neoliberalism denigrates the social, denying both the principle of equality and the vocabulary in which to demand it. In attacking both the political and the social, it elevates not just the market, but, especially for Hayek, a particular notion of traditional morality. On Hayek’s view, tradition had evolved to hold society together organically. With that organic traditionalism, he hoped to “recolonize…the civic and social where democracy once ruled.” In dethroning democracy, Brown claims, the neoliberals have succeeded—but “the effect has been the opposite of neoliberal aims.” That effect has been threefold: the state has been captured by the powers of capital; the people rendered

Topics:
Emma Mackinnon considers the following as important: , , , , , , , ,

This could be interesting, too:

Wendy Brown writes Ruins and Renewal: An Interview with Wendy Brown

B. T. writes Does differentiated integration improve the democratic legitimacy of the European Union? Evidence from the 2015 Danish opt-out referendum

Daniel Steinmetz-Jenkins writes Is Friedrich Hayek to Blame for our Political Crisis?

Sharad Chari writes Cartographies of Subjugated Critique

But more than just attack the realm of politics, and so constrain the reach of popular power, she argues, neoliberalism denigrates the social, denying both the principle of equality and the vocabulary in which to demand it. In attacking both the political and the social, it elevates not just the market, but, especially for Hayek, a particular notion of traditional morality. On Hayek’s view, tradition had evolved to hold society together organically. With that organic traditionalism, he hoped to “recolonize…the civic and social where democracy once ruled.

In dethroning democracy, Brown claims, the neoliberals have succeeded—but “the effect has been the opposite of neoliberal aims.” That effect has been threefold: the state has been captured by the powers of capital; the people rendered susceptible to demagoguery; and “traditional morality” stripped of its meaning as it has become not foundation stone but cudgel. Hayek especially failed to anticipate traditional morality’s vulnerability to “weaponization” through the discourse of rights and civil liberties, in which it would becomedisembedded from tradition” and so stripped of what had made it valid and valuable in the first place. In the final chapter, she interprets support for Trump as a manifestation of revenge and ressentiment. She does not pull punches here: Trump’s supporters see themselves, pace Schmitt, as land-dwellers, in need of bigger walls; “Blut und Boden, she suggests, is not a far step beyond.

To review: for Brown, democracy is about popular sovereignty, expansively understood and premised on ideals of social equality; neoliberalism seeks to constrain the political and colonize the social. The “traditional morality” Hayek upholds is antidemocratic in its reliance on heteropatriachal and white supremacist social forms, which she argues is not incidental to the rest of his theory, but baked in through the concept of “organic” tradition.

In addition to its hierarchical content, neoliberalism was also hollow in practice, making it vulnerable to even more nefarious projects. As the analysis moves to wedding cakes and pregnancy centers in chapter 4, we get a better view of what those projects were. The cases Brown considers involved attacks on robust public accommodation laws, equal and plentiful access to health care grounded in science, and the principle of truth in advertising. In attacking those principles, advocates, as well as Supreme Court justices, deployed appeals to “conscience, but in a perverted form. They used ideas of conscience to justify the imposition of so-called traditional Christian morality, rather than understanding conscience as a private and internal realm. In a broader sense, they deployed “conscience” not to preserve the realm of the social, but to undermine it.

There are moments in the final chapter when it starts to sound as if, in attempting to avoid a diagnosis of “false consciousness,Brown is flirting with a “basket of deplorables” one. The latter is, rather infamously, not a good look. Perhaps, relative to the former, it is a bit less condescending, and in this sense a bit more democratic: after all, part of democracy is taking people’s decisions seriously, rather than writing off those decisions as symptomatic. Better to say that people are deplorable than that they are dupes. Still, this is tricky territory.

Brown navigates this issue in part with a turn, in the latter part of the chapter, to delineate between the deplorable causes of resentment—mostly corresponding with white supremacy and male superordination—and the more justified ones. The latter category involves resentment of the so-called one percent, but also of what Brown calls “Boarding Groups 1 and 2.” Here, Brown identifies resentment as a part of everyday affective life. The rhetoric of airline boarding processes presents a euphemism for class that isn’t even particularly euphemistic. It is a metonym for what she describes as “the tiered pricing of service, access, and treatment for everything everywhere [which] accustoms all to inegalitarianism and makes us more feudal than democratic in subjectivity and ethos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *