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Re: Neoliberalism gone mad

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:07 pm 
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You can carry enough weapons to start a small war but you can't talk about the most serious environmental issue of our age. Where else?

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 08, 2013 5:01 pm 
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Just been reading this Mark Fisher piece from a while back. Thought it made sense to put it in here.

Quote:
Practices ostensibly undertaken for work, even if they are performed on holiday or late at night, are not experienced simply as unreasonable demands. From a psychoanalytic point of view, it is easy to see why such demands - demands that cannot possibly be met - can be libidinised, since this kind of demand is precisely the form that the psychoanalytic drive assumes. Jodi Dean has convincingly argued that digital communicative compulsion constitutes a capturing by (Freudian/Lacanian) drive: individuals are locked into repeating loops, aware that their activity is pointless, but nevertheless unable to desist.12 The ceaseless circulation of digital communication lies beyond the pleasure principle: the insatiable urge to check messages, email or Facebook is a compulsion, akin to scratching an itch which gets worse the more one scratches. Like all compulsions, this behaviour feeds on dissatisfaction. If there are no messages, you feel disappointed and check again very quickly. But if there are messages you also feel disappointed: no amount of messages is ever enough. Sherry Turkle has talked to people who are unable to resist the urge to send and receive texts on their mobile telephone, even when they are driving a car. At the risk of a laboured pun, this is a perfect example of death drive, which is defined not by the desire to die, but by being in the grip of a compulsion so powerful that it makes one indifferent to death. What’s remarkable here is the banal content of the drive. This isn’t the tragedy of something like The Red Shoes, in which the ballerina is killed by the sublime rapture of dance: these are people who are prepared to risk death so that they can open a 140 character message which they know perfectly well is likely to be inane.


http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php ... _of_stress

His book, Capitalist Realism, is well worth reading for anyone who hasn't yet (as is the Ivor Southwood book mentioned in that article).

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:05 am 
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Not sure this belongs here, but a good read nonetheless:

Who rates the rating agencies?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 14, 2013 3:39 pm 
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More from Fisher.

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Rather than an elimination of bureaucracy, what we’ve seen under neoliberalism is just the reverse: bureaucracy’s mad, cancerous proliferation. Increasingly, what this new bureaucracy measures is not the worker’s ability to perform their job, but their ability to perform bureaucratic tasks effectively. This has perverse effects on the way that institutions function, which we saw demonstrated with New Labour’s ‘target culture’. As is now well known, the imposition of targets led to widespread gaming of the system, and also a neglect of those areas which fell outside the remit of the target. I’ve called this situation ‘Market Stalinism’. This isn’t just a joke; what it highlights is the extent to which neoliberalism depends upon authoritarian bureaucratic control systems. Again, New Labour exemplified this perfectly. The party repudiated authoritarian Stalinism at the level of ideological content, but, at the level of form, Labour became an increasingly authoritarian organisation. The concept of Market Stalinism also allows us to recognise that neoliberalism was never about reducing governmental control in order to free up the market. Market dynamics don’t spontaneously appear in public services, they have to be constructed – and, as the examples I’ve already given show, this requires, not a trimming back of bureaucratic agencies, but the production of new forms of bureaucracy. In order that institutions and workers can be seen to be competing with one another, it is necessary to produce all kinds of spurious quantificatory data. This means that, in education and other public services, we’re not dealing with ‘marketization’ so much as a pseudo-marketization, the simulation of market dynamics.

The question then arises - if this neoliberal bureaucracy is (in its own ‘official’ terms) dysfunctional, if it doesn’t work to achieve its stated goals, then, what is its real purpose? I think there are a number of answers to this. The first is that the Market Stalinist bureaucracy has an ideological effect. If, as Althusser said, ideology is essentially ritualistic - i.e. it makes us adopt a certain language, range of behaviours etc. - then neoliberal bureaucracy is quintessentially ideological. It not only naturalises and normalises the language and practices of business; it makes the ritualised performance of this naturalisation a condition of workers retaining their jobs. The second role that managerialist bureaucracy plays for neoliberalism is a disciplinary function: it subdues and pacifies workers. The anxiety that neoliberal bureaucracy so often produces should not be seen as an accidental side-effect of these measures; rather, the anxiety is something that is in itself highly desirable from the perspective of the neoliberal project. The erosion of confidence, the sense of being alone, in competition with others: this weakens the worker’s resolve, undermines their capacity for solidarity, and forestalls militancy.


http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/newfo ... ilbert.pdf

Have to say I find this stuff fascinating. It's really interesting how quickly blowhard neoliberal rhetoric crumbles when you dig beneath the surface a little. Pure ideology.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:45 pm 
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More spivery:

UK oil company's £4 billion investment project in North Sea field given green light
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home ... 1384512005

'Hurrah!' you may shout. Jobs and tax revenue for all!:
Quote:
The development covers two separate "heavy" oil fields which will each benefit from Government oil allowances enabling companies to claim tax relief on up to £800 million of their profits.

We used to have our own state oil company to do this stuff (like Norway), until Maggie sold it off for less than 1% of it's current value.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 19, 2013 3:13 pm 
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This piece from a few months back is very good.

Quote:
Karl Marx believed, optimistically, that capitalism was creating the conditions of its own socialist successor, through bringing an emergent class together in cities and factories, where they would inevitably discover their shared interest and the superiority of common ownership. Optimistic Marxists, such as Hardt and Negri, continue to believe that something like this is true, on the basis that value is dematerialising, making it eventually impossible to privatise. There are even business gurus who preach something similar.

Wandering around Stratford Westfield the other day, I had a similar but more pessimistic thought: maybe capitalism is gradually morphing into the 'actually existing' state socialism of the old Eastern Bloc. (For international readers, Stratford Westfield is a vast shopping centre that was strategically located between the 2012 Olympic Park and the nearest train station, in the hope of rinsing unfortunate athletics fans for some cash en route to the games.) British capitalism already has many of the hallmarks of Brezhnev-era socialist decline: macroeconomic stagnation, a population as much too bored as scared to protest about very much, a state that performs tongue-in-cheek legitimacy, politicians playing with statistics to try and delay the moment of economic reckoning.


Quote:
In his recent On Critique, Luc Boltanski argues that repetition becomes the key trope of political actors who seek to avoid moments of critical or objective judgement. Words are recited, truths are repeatedly affirmed, routines are performed repeatedly, for fear that otherwise questions might be asked. This is different from, say, a company audit or an evaluation, in which there is a ritualistic element to it, but the outcome is unknown, unless it has become corrupted in some way. My feeling is (and I discuss this in a book I'm just finishing) that neoliberalism has entered a post-critical, repetitive phase, in which certain things have to be spoken - delivery, efficiency, security, competitiveness - but in order to hold the edifice together, rather than to reveal anything as objectively 'delivered', 'efficient', 'secure' or 'competitive. Political systems which do not create space for critique encounter this need for mandatory repetition immediately, as occurred to state socialism.


http://potlatch.typepad.com/weblog/2013 ... alism.html

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 02, 2013 10:33 am 
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Quote:
Amazon, the world's largest online retailer, is testing unmanned drones to deliver goods to customers, Chief Executive Jeff Bezos says.

The drones, called Octocopters, could deliver packages weighing up to 2.3kg to customers within 30 minutes of them placing the order, he said.

However, he added that it could take up to five years for the service to start.

The US Federal Aviation Administration is yet to approve the use of unmanned drones for civilian purposes.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25180906

In a sense this isn't really mad - Amazon's job is to cut costs wherever and however it can - but how are we (or more to the point, how is capitalism) going to deal with all the job losses which are coming in the storage and distribution sector over the next decade? I'm not against automation per se but under capitalism, all it means is poverty and dependency on a receding welfare safety net.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 12:10 pm 
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Ever wished there were more hours in the day? Introducing the NeuroOn mask that creates a unique sleep schedule for you.

What is the NeuroOn?

NeuroOn is the world’s first brainwave - monitoring SLEEP MASK that allows you to switch from monophasic to polyphasic sleep. That means you can sleep less and more efficiently.


http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/int ... y_launched

Quote:
Do you dream about squeezing extra hours into your schedule to have fun, relax or work?


No.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:48 pm 
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'This revolutionary device will enable us all to work 23 hours a day, thereby increasing productivity by a full %350!!!!'

Pass me the cyanide.


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:17 pm 
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Two more good pieces on neoliberal crisis and political neurosis.

Quote:
But the crisis of 2008 destroyed the capitalist salvage job cobbled together in the late 1970s and demanded a new bout of exclusions to fix it. This time it's not just the remnants of old labour, the poorest and the non-white who are being shut out – it's the next generation of middle-class workers too. Young people today are being excluded from the labour market in unprecedented numbers, which is why, as Aaron Bastani correctly notes, the student protesters of last week are making connections between their own prospects and those of outsourced cleaners and the 2011 rioters. Quite simply, capital cannot survive unless it pushes the wages of vast swathes of people to as low a level as possible, or even better, turns them into debt peons or forced labourers. If this increasingly excluded population force their way back into contention, the fragility of a re-reconstructed capitalism as a whole is put at stake. With no possibility of assuaging a surplus population - trapped outside of the capital-labour relation - through economic means, repression is revealed as the only option left to the capitalist state.

In a sense, capital's fragility and a ramped up repression are two sides of the same coin. Economic growth is so desperately sought that even that of soaring house prices and consumer debt – the very same 'growth' which kickstarted the crisis in the first place - is celebrated manically. Therefore anything which hinders that 'growth' in any way, from stopping fracking drills to squatting in empty houses or shutting down a shop for an afternoon, is regarded as an attack on the whole of capitalist society. Because, in a way, it is. For all the pain and suffering that it is currently inflicting on the working and non-working class around the world, capital is actually in a historically weak position. It is running out of options. It has to control the entirety of society, regardless of the repression involved, or else it collapses.


http://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/mat ... of-capital

Quote:
When the economic crises of the 1970s and the 2000s erupted, governments stepped in to prevent a repeat of the large scale collapse of economic institutions seen in the Great Depression of the 1930s. The Great Depression radicalised the working class internationally, enabled the rise of fascism as a mass movement and paved the way to world war, and the capitalist body politic barely survived. Ever since, whenever the spectre of economic crisis has appeared, the political representatives of capital have acted to avoid a repeat of the 1930s, but it was this very process of destruction which ultimately set the stage for the ‘Golden Age’ which followed. To again quote Brenner:

“[T]o actually resolve the problem of profitability that has so long plagued the system – slowing capital accumulation and calling forth ever greater levels of borrowing to sustain stability – the system requires the crisis that has so long been postponed… It’s by way of crisis that, historically, capitalism has restored the rate of profit and established the necessary conditions for more dynamic capital accumulation. During the post-war period, crisis has been warded off, but the cost has been a failure to revive profitability leading to worsening stagnation. The current crisis is about that shakeout that never happened.”[6]

...

When Lehman Brothers went down five years ago, a ‘full-scale destruction of capital value’ was threatened; at times during the Euro crisis such a thing has been close at hand, and may still be in the future. The powers that be stepped in to prevent such destruction occurring, and will likely continue to do so until a problem emerges that is too big to be contained. The political consequences of such destruction are likely to be severe, but until then all capitalism can offer is stagnation punctuated by bubbles and their bursting.


http://www.iwca.info/?p=10228

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 10:41 am 
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The more I think about it the more it seems to me that the global ruling class has some sort of collective death wish. Staggeringly complacent and belligerent.

Quote:
Red tape and fears that governments will fail to control budget deficits are the biggest worries of bosses of major companies, research has found – although they are increasingly optimistic about the prospects for growth in the coming year.

The proportion of bosses consulted in PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) annual survey who believe the economy will improve in the next 12 months has doubled to 44% since last year's poll; only 7% believe things will get worse, in contrast to 28% a year ago.

The survey of 1,344 business leaders, used to gauge the mood at the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, found a marked improvement since the depths of the global recession, five years ago.

Even so, the ability of debt-laden governments to rein in their deficits was cited as a concern by 71% of those polled – up from 61% in 2011 – while the most significant risk – cited by 72% - was over-regulation.


http://www.theguardian.com/business/201 ... -2014-ceos

Meanwhile...

Quote:
The extent to which so much global wealth has become corralled by a virtual handful of the so-called 'global elite' is exposed in a new report from Oxfam on Monday. It warned that those richest 85 people across the globe share a combined wealth of £1tn, as much as the poorest 3.5 billion of the world's population.

The wealth of the 1% richest people in the world amounts to $110tn (£60.88tn), or 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world, added the development charity, which fears this concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving up social tensions.


http://www.theguardian.com/business/201 ... -the-world

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:50 pm 
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Quote:
Agenda item
Tackling Unauthorised Living in Industrial Areas

Meeting of Cabinet, Thursday, 16th January, 2014 6.30 pm (Item 595.)
(Report of the Director of Regeneration, Planning and Development. To be introduced by the Cabinet Member for Planning and Enforcement). The report seeks agreement to a multidisciplinary approach to tackling unauthorised living in employment areas and sets out the project management approach being adopted to ensure proper governance and the timely delivery and reporting of project objectives.


http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=36242

'Unauthorised living'. Sounds about right.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 2:15 pm 
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Look at Your Phone During TV Ads? Expect to See the Same Messages There

Xaxis' Sync Seeks to Reinforce TV Advertising With Distracted Viewers

Quote:
Instead of going to the bathroom or grabbing a beer during commercial breaks, TV watchers are increasingly turning to a new ritual: checking their phones until the show resumes.

For advertisers paying top dollar for TV ads, the trend is frustrating, presenting yet another challenge in their quest to gain a share of consumers' fragmented attention.
But Xaxis, the WPP-owned programmatic platform, believes it's found a way to reach these distracted consumers. The company is introducing a product called "Sync," which will give advertisers the ability to serve ads on TV watchers' mobile devices while their TV screens air the corresponding commercials.

"One of the biggest challenges that advertisers have right now, especially when it comes to buying broadcast television, is that up to 50% of people that are watching broadcast television are also engaging with another device," said Xaxis CEO Brian Lesser in an interview with Ad Age. "What we're trying to do with Sync is to solve the problem of users being distracted by their mobile device from the TV."

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 3:28 pm 
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The sort of thing that makes me want to go and live in a cabin in the woods and never check my email ever again.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 8:17 pm 
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new puritan wrote:
Quote:
Agenda item
Tackling Unauthorised Living in Industrial Areas

Meeting of Cabinet, Thursday, 16th January, 2014 6.30 pm (Item 595.)
(Report of the Director of Regeneration, Planning and Development. To be introduced by the Cabinet Member for Planning and Enforcement). The report seeks agreement to a multidisciplinary approach to tackling unauthorised living in employment areas and sets out the project management approach being adopted to ensure proper governance and the timely delivery and reporting of project objectives.


http://www.minutes.haringey.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=36242

'Unauthorised living'. Sounds about right.


Just back from a bit of dark ages Britain research.
This particular development seems like the natural conclusion of the enclosure movement.


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