By Aaron Peters, openDemocracy
The 'Movement' and the Twilight of Neo-Liberalism:
I agree with many of the basic propostions put forward in Naming the Movement, most notably the fact that we are seeing increased discontent in the OECD (read 'Western') countries with a world where social relations and civic institutions are entirely subordinate to profit and economic returns,
“...the movement is born out of a sense of frustration (explicit or implicit by turn) with the tendency of the contemporary world to fragment communities, to make education into a purely instrumental exercise, to accord everything a measurable price. In a time of rapid change, of what Zygmunt Bauman calls “liquid modernity”, the bonds connecting us all are ever more frayed, the collectivities within which we can find a home ever more insubstantial.”
I would add that the movement is not just born solely from an ethical concern with the current system but rather, after several decades of recognising neo-liberalism's ability to commodify every day life and desecrate the environment, those in the developed world are now beginning to understand the genuine threat to their own standards of living posed by it as an economic system whose negative implications far outweigh any positive ones. Furthermore it is being increasingly recognised as undermining norms of national sovereignty and basic democratic accountability in countries as politically and economically diverse as Puerto Rico, Greece, Egypt and the UK. One particularly pertinent point is that the movement(s) we are seeing, particularly in Southern Europe and the UK, are in opposition to the logics of unaccountable transnational bodies such as credit ratings agencies, international finance institutions such as the IMF and global banking oligopolies such as Goldman Sachs.
What Kahn-Harris fails to identify is that the existential crisis of 'affluenza' and the absence of any notion of the 'good society' within the developed market economies is now conjoined with structural economic changes which mean that many of these same economies will witness a decline in standards of living over the course of the next decade. The ideological vacuity of late twentieth century capitalism, which never satisfied the ethical demands of equality and human flourishing, is now accompanied by the fact that people's material economic conditions – whether they are blue or white collar workers – are worsening, be it with an increasingly precarious labour market or their (in)ability to afford education, healthcare and housing.
~ more... ~