November 25, 2008

Democracy Ist Tott

"I didn't work all my life to be equal," a sentiment that has always run deep in the United States. For if the principle of equality predisposes us to restless activity and work in the tenacious pursuit of our own distinct standing amongst "equals," it also implies that our interests cannot be satisfied without a settled order to pursue them. Mobility thus oddly becomes alloyed to the stability of accepted norms which come to typify our middle class enthusiasms.

And insofar neo-liberalism has intensified these dynamics there has also been a deepening contempt for "the people" and all that is "common." As Jacques Ranciere puts it, "It is about the people and its mores that (we) complain, not about the institutions of power." Indeed getting on with our petty narcissism by withdrawing into celebrity spectacles and our own private lives actually reflect an infantile wish to be politically taken care of. "Just leave us alone! We want to be governed by elites so we can get on with our lives." The subtext to all the bailouts is that a healthy dosage of popular resignation is central to democratic politics because too much arousal, too much participation, on the part of the demos is simply too tumultuous, too dangerous. "The people," in other words, have neither the interest nor patience to develop their own informed opinions about such "complex" matters. Leave it to a governing class to liberate the demos.


Anonymous said...

i'm not sure what you describe can be necessarily linked to "neo-liberalism," and, if so, wouldn't obema's victory question your overall point?

Pietro de Simone said...

Neo-liberalism as in the intensification of "rational" subjects who turn everything in life into marketing, unwilling or not.

As per Obama, the political discourse is still hostage to euphemisms and "centrists" Clintonians, a REACTION on Obama's part to the electoral "mandate" earlier this month. Keep hoping, I say...