I remember the 1980s vividly, particularly the culture. During that time, swathes of the British population tried to present themselves as intensely self-interested. People went out of their way to convince you not only of how selfish they were, but of how selfish was the human being as such.
It's interesting that the Labour Party line at present is essentially Thatcherite anti-democracy: even if the people want anti-austerity, it cannot be offered to them; there is no alternative. This effectively positions the Labour party (insofar as it is strangulated by New Labour elements and the catachrestically named 'Progress' think-tank) to the right of even the IMF.
If the complex situation in which an already self-contradictory Syriza managed to hem itself, together with all the impositions of the Eurozone, were to be distilled into a simple ideological message it would be, as Richard Seymour captured it: 'this is what you get for giving the creditors lip'. One can palpably touch the thick air of jouissance emanating from the direction of Schäuble et al, one can sense the simmering message 'don't fuck with us'. This is Mafia-style stagecraft, the attempt to so completely undermine, humiliate, ridicule and dehumanise the opponent so as to i) serve as an exemplary judgement to dissuade future potential opposition and ii) portray the victim as so inherently impotent that a cruel and cynical 'irony of fate' has finally cast them as their exact opposites, worse than the Eurozone itself. You can come with all your left-wing delusions, but be aware how far you will fall when we expose you as just another group of charlatans gasping for power.
I'm not saying that this denouement (and it is clearly the final act in the play) was inevitable.
David Cameron and George Osborne believe the only way to persuade millionaires to work harder is to give them more money. But they also seem to believe that the only way to make ordinary people work harder is to take money away. (Source: Ed Miliband, Hansard, December 12, 2012)
This is one of the better quotes we might draw from Miliband's inconsistent political melange. However, what it fails to address is just why a government -- any government -- should require its subjects to work harder. What does it even mean, to 'work harder'? How is the hardness gauged, by whom, and towards what end? What kind of metric is used? Scientific, moral, legal, civil, economic? How is it calibrated? Why does anyone care how hard someone else is working? Unless of course you are an employer out to exploit them, and the panoply of methods to do so has, historically speaking, been diminished through the struggle of organised social collectivities.
Capitalism lives in your spine. From there it ordains every function of your biological being. From within, it subjects you to its crises. It enlists your senses, it commodifies your organs, it colonises your very colon. It rewrites and rewires you from the inside. This cybergothic nightmare can't be woken from and waved away by inane yammering or pumping of blood.
Your plastic brain has been moulded by practice. Dimly recognising its own originary formlessness, it lacks anything of its own; it laments and mourns an integral wholesome past that was never present while yearning for that distant horizon, not the one it faces.
The IMF report on austerity and debt reduction has attracted a fair bit of attention, largely because it suggest the UK's austerity is unnecessary.
But this misses the other side of austerity. Because the UK's financial system is at an exceptional risk of systemic failure, there is a compelling need to clear what the authors call "fiscal space". This is underplayed in the report, not least because it uses a closed-economy model - but the UK has the highest external debts of any large developed economy.
This is the grim logic of the situation we're in: our financial system is at permanent risk of collapse, so austerity must, in Cameron's phrase, also become permanent. And we end up with an entire political system gradually adapting itself to that reality.
They tried to bury us. They did not know we were seeds.
-- Mexican Proverb
Theresa May and David Cameron really are disingenuous; they know very well -- as we all do, but are supposed to pretend not to know -- that the more they try to bury political agitators beneath the fertile dirt of repression, the more seedlike those political agitators become. 'Radicalisation' requires only one thing -- state-inflicted trauma. And trauma can be defined as anything which steals the voice, isolating and dislocating it. As such May's extreme rhetoric over an organically unified society against which one is not permitted to 'value' differently, coupled with new 'anti-extremist' policies, if they pass into legislation, are in fact highly pro-extermist (in the sense of being productive of extremism, one might even say 'proto-extremist'), being precisely the way to circumvent what would have been legitimate political oppositions (i.e. politics itself, as the possession of the people, in the agonistic tradition bequethed to us by Athenian democracy) and to instead produce terrorists, i.e. a depoliticised category of securitisation.
If psychoanalysis were to have an innovative role in a Foucauldian genealogy of the human subject in Western societies, it would not be because it explains our nature in terms of our sexuality (this would be merely an addition to the history of attempts to define a "human nature"), but rather because it defines the sexual itself as that which profoundly disorients any effort whatsoever to constitute a human subject.1
This in fine highlights one of my problems with essentialism, particularly with essentialism of a non-strategic variety; mimesis (Irigaray) I will admit is of profound value. Essentialism as the bedrock of an identitarian politics, however, I cannot but see as problematic and ahistorical. What is 'essential' about the human condition is precisely its lacking of essence, the pure historicity of the factical elements of which the subject is a constitutive transcendence. In this sense, all identity is at root 'strategic', arising in response to a lack of innate procedures and incoherent drives in the face of a contingently granted and historical environment. I only insist on this point for politically consequential reasons, although those reasons may also be ontologically determinate. In this respect I think it is well worth making a clarification of my fundamental position on identitarian politics, which must be based on proper distinctions.
It irks me no end to see Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek 'Finance Minister' under Syriza, persistently referred to in the press -- even on the left -- as a game-theorist, when his published position on game theory is very far from being an uncritical endorsement.
I don't like it when others write in an overly gnomic way, so I suppose I should resist the temptation as well.