Monday 25th of May 2020

loosing our footing...


The origins of populism partly lie in the humiliations associated with the uphill struggle to become, at best, an inferior copy of a superior model.

This quote appears in an Austrian publication, iwmpost, the magazine of the Institut für die Wissenschaften vom Menschen / Institute for Human Sciences, in an article The Dying of the Light by Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes

Why did the West, after winning the Cold War, lose its political balance? In their latest book The Light that Failed, Ivan Krastev and Stephen Holmes argue that the supposed end of history turned out to be only the beginning of an Age of Imitation. Reckoning with the history of the last thirty years, they show that the most powerful force behind the wave of populist xenophobia that began in Eastern Europe stems from resentment at the post-1989 imperative to become Westernized.

Fair enough and as posted by the authors, there are many complex dynamics in the process. One aspect is a dictatorial demand for such individuals to adapt to change from one political system to another. It’s not as simple as it looks for some people. One important point which is often overlooked by Western analysts (because we’re so right and we’re so good) is that though a different life may have been sought-after by the easterners, this imposed change can devalue the life that they have lived so far, even if under a draconian regime. You were wrong, we are right syndrome. Ahah... Yes it could be humiliating. But it is not so much a humiliation than an enforced devaluation of one’s previous life. The new ways may not also fit the dream that they had of the new system (capitalism and "freedom") they have to now live in. It demands a new form of brainwashing: your life is going to improve but you will have to change your operational and thinking ways, while being faced with a multitude of equivalent choices. Now you work harder for money, while in the past you lazily worked for the system… Do you feel any improvements in your way of life?

This is going to be exciting… It often is not. It’s confusing and the weather is still the same in winter: cold and miserable. The changeover tends to leave people unemployed — and devalued, because they don't have the general greed element fully developed in their life so far. They have the power of invention, but not the drive to become beasts of burden under capitalism. It feels wrong. Furthermore, historically, having switched from Nazism to Communism, switching to Capitalism can feel like an intellectual downsizing, despite the freedom, rather than an improvement of ideal. 

And there are the “gangs”. Especially for the unemployed youth. But even in higher Capitalism, there will be allegiances to the Mafia, to the Freemasonry, to the Bilderberg group, to the banking system, to the churches, to a political party, before professing a direct allegiance to the people. This goes hand in hand with our superiority complex that we cultivate within our various subgroups, whether these groups are ethical or not... 

This is the problem with having to deal with religious extremists. The war in Afghanistan has been such an example where the West supported these extremists to prevent them falling to the ideal of socialism. Now, after 19 years of reversed conflict, the war is a mess. The West has lost the will to fight its long ago former allies and loose more soldiers to a cause the moral of which have been sold to NGOs with little economic value, except freedom for women, while our warring ways have helped the locals reinforce their religious prejudices “by hating us” patiently... 

So, how can we improve? At the moment, we think that bashing Russia and China makes us look good. It is short sighted and lacks self-confidence. We do this because we’re afraid of competition when we should value cooperation for a relative improvement of the human condition rather than a capitalistic thrust of greed, which due to the virus, has taken a major beating — necessary or not. We have not taken a reality check on our general humanistic values, except "saving lives when we can”. Mistakes have been made. Patents have been breached. Economies have been smashed — and not that of governments which can always be fiddled with, but that of the little people — the artists, the trades people, the restaurants, but especially the life of the casually employed... All will come out in the wash.

More to come…

Average humanist.

neoliberalism flirts with authoritarian liberalism...

Across the West, hard-right leaders are surging to power on platforms of ethno-economic nationalism, Christianity, and traditional family values. Is this phenomenon the end of neoliberalism or its monstrous offspring?

 In the Ruins of Neoliberalism casts the hard-right turn as animated by socioeconomically aggrieved white working- and middle-class populations but contoured by neoliberalism's multipronged assault on democratic values. From its inception, neoliberalism flirted with authoritarian liberalism as it warred against robust democracy. It repelled social-justice claims through appeals to market freedom and morality. It sought to de-democratize the state, economy, and society and re-secure the patriarchal family. In key works of the founding neoliberal intellectuals, Wendy Brown traces the ambition to replace democratic orders with ones disciplined by markets and traditional morality and democratic states with technocratic ones. 

Yet plutocracy, white supremacy, politicized mass affect, indifference to truth, and extreme social disinhibition were no part of the neoliberal vision. Brown theorizes their unintentional spurring by neoliberal reason, from its attack on the value of society and its fetish of individual freedom to its legitimation of inequality. Above all, she argues, neoliberalism's intensification of nihilism coupled with its accidental wounding of white male supremacy generates an apocalyptic populism willing to destroy the world rather than endure a future in which this supremacy disappears.

Read more:

Why do we no longer trust experts, facts and statistics? Why has politics become so fractious and warlike? What caused the populist political upheavals of recent years? How can the history of ideas help us understand our present? 

In this bold and far-reaching exploration of our new political landscape, William Davies reveals how feelings have come to reshape our world. Drawing deep on history, philosophy, psychology and economics, he shows how some of the fundamental assumptions that defined the modern world have dissolved. With advances in science and medicine, the division between mind and body is no longer so clear-cut. The spread of digital and military technology has left us not quite at war nor exactly at peace. In the murky new space between mind and body, between war and peace, lie nervous states- with all of us relying increasingly on feeling rather than fact. 

In a book of profound insight and astonishing breadth, William Davies reveals the origins of this new political reality. Nervous States is a compelling and essential guide to the turbulent times we are living through.

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