Political void, social despair and circular solutions

The Internet appears to be a place that can facilitate free and open dialogue yet, in reality, what often happens is the opposite. Online content is created and promoted in a manner that does not open up avenues for dialogue but for self-affirmation. In relation to the Western liberal political debates on the web, this is achieved by what is called ‘cancel culture’, which promotes the exclusion, censorship and moral assassination of dissident voices, while critically affirming and reaffirming itself.

At times, neoliberalism is perceived as an ideological doctrine or a homogeneous body of theoretical knowledge; then and again, it is perceived as a political-economic phase of capitalism. I reckon both propositions are wrong. Neoliberalism does not represent a coherent body of knowledge, nor it is political-economic practice with a defined scope; it is instead both a tactic and a strategy within dominant capitalist relations. It has never had a pure, homogeneous form; on the contrary, it is so heterogeneous that it is amorphous: everything and nothing at the same time. It proclaims anti-state capitalism only to enable capitalist monopolies to deeply rely on state power in order to secure the transfer of wealth upwards from the labour class to the 1%.

It emphasises a free market but uses legal and military power to block, sanction, attack, and destroy adversaries. It proclaims the values of freedom and liberty, but secures a tight grip over the media and public speech, asserts censorship over dissident voices, privatises the public domain, and fosters fascist regimes, bloody monarchies, and dictatorships aligned with its own interests. Neoliberalism is a tactic of social control and domination, which makes vast use of cultural war, thus, rewriting history, changing the perception of reality, controlling social narratives, shaping social behaviour, and destroying cultural memory.

As socioeconomic conditions are decimated and, accordingly, social despair grows, neoliberal tactics, which are more known at an economic level, require complementary tactics in order to impose themselves as part of a broader strategy. Cultural domination did not occur automatically as a meritocratic product of political-economic strategies, which, in fact, represented for most people a constant worsening of life. Its complementary strategy is post-modernity, which represents a form of social neoliberalism – it asserts a dimensionality of cultural domination. The relativisation of everything was achieved by the implementation of a sequence of sub-tactics. The notion of the end of history, as if capitalism was the zenith and final stage of social organisation, could only be imposed by enabling a political void and a theoretical vacuum, this, in turn, enabled cultural amnesia.

Generation after generation has grown up not only disbelieving any social change but also every possibility of political action was crushed a priori. Politics has been associated with business, corruption, personal gain, etc. Everyday life appeared distilled from political relations. They there; we here. A-politicisation gave way to depoliticisation. People were disgusted and appalled by it. Social reality crumbled; existence appeared as the mere amalgamation of isolated, atomised individuals. Any change could only exist and be realised at the sub-atomic level, namely individual perception. The social change produced by political action was substituted by the subjective apprehension and interpretation of the world. But this world meant the world of within, a subjective individual inner world. While the capitalist elites rage class war on the people at a worldwide scale, Western intelligentsia promoted the debacle of the struggle of classes, which became abhorred and abolished by the leaders of social movements.

The only struggle possible was the struggle of the self. The greatest minority of all – the capitalist elite – imposes its force over the majority by dividing it politically and imposing upon it its ideological control. To the majority of people, the only possibility left was that of self-identification with one aspect (or small singulars) of its own identity. This canon, which has always been an important driver of racism, chauvinism, patriarchy, and religious despotism, was now converted into the only principle for social struggles, now rebranded, identity politics. The level of irrationalism reached new heights. The fight against some social-political categories was implementing conceptual categories while claiming to ban all categorisation. Not only were the masses divided and did not have an intellectual and artistic representation anymore, but became themselves the targets of the Western intelligentsia, instead of the elite.

These are the conditions in which voices like Jordan Peterson‘s emerges. As Left-wing struggles were being substituted by liberal indoctrination, human emancipation striving for the recognition of the human being in its universality was substituted by the oxymoron of identity emancipation (today, also under the mask of the so-called woke movement).

Systemic conditions disappeared not because they were superseded but because they were suddenly postulated absent. While billions of people – the 99% – are first and foremost affected and threatened by existential conditions, Western intelligentsia imposed over them struggles over gender, race, and climate. Instead of demanding to abolish the horrific labour conditions affecting all women, men, gay, trans, straight, black, white, immigrant, non-immigrant, etc. alike at a superstructural level, instead of demanding the recognition of the differences among people due to historical heritage, natural conditions, social economic backgrounds, access to political power etc. the intelligentsia did the opposite.

Maintaining all the conditions for social oppression and destruction of nature, activists, academics, and artists pushed forward (mostly unknowingly) the notion of changing everything so that nothing changes.

The decadent capitalist tactics of neoliberalism and postmodernity are then rhetorically called “socialism”, its abandonment represents a mystic return to pure capitalism. The likes of Peterson, therefore, represent the other side of the same coin. Their role is to represent an alternative voice in order to keep everything the same; theories that, as in postmodernism, depart from some half-truths and epitomise themselves in pure irrationality – denial of history and reality. They are great expressions of the theoretical and political void of our times, and appear to fill this vacuum, when in fact they are prolonging, disguising, and giving a new form to it. The fact that the likes of Peterson have gained any social dimension reveals the lack of theoretical relevance, depth, and methodology in contemporary society and both within its leading intellectual and political classes. Although they have a very clear political program, the depoliticisation of society and the appearance given to their messages enables them to get away with it, as if purely scientific messages were being promoted, as if this was even possible, as if science is not always embedded within a political reality.

Finally, exactly for this reason exemplified above, I constantly insist on the absolute necessity that theoretical and methodological grounding cannot be separated from political struggles. The form, the content, the reach, and the results of contemporary Left show that Left-wing movements still disapprove of most theories that do not mimic their aprioristic worldview detached from the social-historical dimension.

 

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