There is a fundamental paradox in today’s system that Michael Foucault called the conduct of conduct. Namely, liberalism advertises the individual sovereignty and the free individual, yet government requires that individual behaviour to be regulated and modified…
Where the actual inherency lies and why our system cannot be imaged different from what it is.
There is notion developed by Foucault called, governmentality composed out of governing and mentality so it means the mentality of the government. It is also understood as the art of government and the know how of governing. What is important to note that it does not signifies the power of the authoritarian entity that has it’s subjects, but also signifies problems of self-control guidance for the family management.
I would suggest that the governmentally is like a leaf of the branch called biopolitics, it is about a wide range of control techniques, and applies to variety of objects, from ones’ control of self, to the biopolitical control of populations. The concept is highly connected to the power of knowledge. He encourages us to think of power not in terms of hierarchical top-down power, he widens the understanding of power to include the forms of social control in disciplinary institutions such as schools, hospitals ect. as well as the forms of knowledge.
Power can be manifested in many ways, including the knowledge and discourses that get internalised by individuals, there for guide the behaviour of the population. This leads to efficient form of social control, as the knowledge enables the individual to govern themselves. To have a responsible free society, knowledge equals power and you do not need the external entity embodying the power that you can within.
No wonder governmentally is often connected and referred to when we speak of neoliberal governmentality. That characterises the advanced liberal democracy, in this case it refers to societies where power is de-centred, and the members play an active role in their self-governing process the individuals need to be regulated from the inside.
The basic notion of governmentally is to form a happy satisfied society that is the core value in a way. The governments means to the end is the apparatuses for security, that would provide a sense of economical, political, cultural and social well-being. It would be achieved by political economy.
So in other words, what is govrnemntality, the end that is a happy stable society, with the means to this end, the apparatuses of security with the specific knowledge that is political economy, to create a modern administrative state with complex bureaucracies.
This concept had further development and contribution I would like to put out Dean’s , that is the breaking of the term.
Comes from the way he breaks the term up into ‘govern’ ‘mentality’, or mentalities of governing—mentality being a mental disposition or outlook. This means that the concept of governmentality is not just a tool for thinking about government and governing but also incorporates how and what people who are governed think about the way they are governed. He defines thinking as a “collective activity” that is, the sum of the knowledge, beliefs and opinions held by those who are governed. He also raises the point that a mentality is not usually “examined by those who inhabit it” This raises the interesting point that those who are governed may not understand the unnaturalness of both the way they live and the fact that they take this way of life for granted—that the same activity in which they engage in “can be regarded as a different form of practice depending on the mentalities that invest it”
This is an interesting point towards understanding that the society cannot fully grasp their condition. For instance today everyone thinks it’s normal to be indebted and that the entire countries can fall because of the austerity and crises, as if we are not fully awake in the moment that these events are taking place.
Fukuyama writes “a liberal State is ultimately a limited State, with governmental activity strictly bounded by the sphere of individual liberty”. However, only a certain type of liberty, a certain way of understanding and exercising freedom is compatible with Neo-liberalism. If Neo-liberalist government is to fully realise its goals, individuals must come to recognise and act upon themselves as both free and responsible. Lemke states, a mentality of government “is not pure, neutral knowledge that simply re-presents the governing reality” instead, Neo-liberalism constitutes an attempt to link a reduction in state welfare services and security systems to the increasing call for subjects to become free, enterprising, autonomous individuals. It can then begin to govern its subjects, not through intrusive state bureaucracies backed with legal powers, the imposition of moral standards under a religious mandate, but through structuring the possible field of action in which they govern themselves, to govern them through their freedom. Through the transformation of subjects with duties and obligations, into individuals, with rights and freedoms, modern individuals are not merely ‘free to choose’ but obliged to be free, “to understand and enact their lives in terms of choice” This freedom is a different freedom to that offered in the past. It is a freedom to realise our potential and our dreams through reshaping the way in which we conduct our lives.
This is a form of forced choice and freedom, again the concept of the frame of reference that is so rigid, and inside the frame there are realities that are shaping our personal freedom, this can be mildly modified in terms of you can choose this or that coffee, sleep with a man or a woman, but for instance there is no possibility to change the concept of the neoliberal frame, in which this realities exist, there for real change becomes impossible.
The Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben said in an interview that “thought is the courage of hopelessness” – even the most pessimist diagnostics as a rule finishes with an uplifting hint at some version of the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The true courage is not to imagine an alternative, but to accept the consequences of the fact that there is no clearly discernible alternative: the dream of an alternative is a sign of theoretical cowardice, it functions as a fetish which prevents us thinking to the end the deadlock of our predicament. In short, the true courage is to admit that the light at the end of the tunnel is most likely the headlight of another train approaching us from the opposite direction. There is no better example of the need for such courage than Greece today. – Slavoj Žižek, on Greece the courage of hopelessness
So Greece understood that the bailout that was offered to the by the institution and the IMF is simply not enough to drag them out of the crisis they are in and interestingly enough the same was confirmed by the IMF itself, so the problem is probably somewhere else, does the EU believe in their bailout strategies, or is it just an extortionist strategy to teach the other members a lesson. Again we had the confirmation of the movement started. things changed with the famous oxi, the Greek no was a true gesture of freedom and autonomy, against the oppressive master. And this is the idea we should try to imagine, that we are able to say no. The bigger question is of course what happens the day after, when all the ecstatic negation is over and we have to again accept the every day reality, and go on as business as usual. The Grexit was portrayed as something unimaginable something that would cause an immediate social disintegration. In a way it is an impossible-real which can have unpredictable consequences, as Paul Krugman pointed out. Syriza is aware that courageous gesture could cause the Greek people great desirability and even more misery. But how is our society structured in a way that the only option is that we have no option but to obey and serve the authority. The only way out is to go back to the grassroots make the government as an establishment apsolete. Parties like syriza should self-organise, and deny the authority as we know today. However the grassroots cannot replace the stationed the question persists, how to reorganise the state apparatus to make it function.
The situation of Greece, makes one thing very clear; the Capital is our symbolical fictional Real, it is the Big Other the entity that is controlling and dictating our every day lives. Todays’ protests, are the overlapping of different levels of our dissatisfaction and we fight for; parliamentary democracy against authoritarian regimes; agains racism and sexism, for well-fare state and against neoliberalism. against all kinds of corruption, and questioning the global capitalism, and try to keep the idea of non-capitalist society alive.
Both extreme ends are to be avoided the false radicalism that we have a solution, the left oriented ideas of capital liberal abolition, that this is the priority and everything else will follow and also the false gradualism that step by step the change is possible. That now we fight the military dictatorship and all the socialist dreams will come later. We have examples of these radical changes that don’t bring much change in the end. In Egypt the uprising and the Arab spring did effectively eliminate Mubarak but the corruption resisted it was just redirected.
After the overthrow of an authoritarian regime, the last vestiges of patriarchal care for the poor can fall away, so that the newly gained freedom is de facto reduced to the freedom to choose the preferred form of one’s misery – the majority not only remains poor, but, to , it is being told that, since they are now free, poverty is their own responsibility. In such a predicament, we have to admit that there was flaw in our goal itself, that this goal was not specific enough – say, that standard political democracy can also serve as the very form of un-freedom: political freedom can easily provide the legal frame for economic slavery, with the underprivileged “freely” selling themselves into servitude. We are thus brought to demand more than just political democracy – democratization also of social and economic life. In short, we have to admit that what we first took as the failure to fully realise a noble principle (of democratic freedom) is a failure inherent to this principle itself.
The bottom line; The apparatus is mobilised to prevent us from grasping this radical conclusion. To start doubting the system items. Things like, democratic freedom brings it’s own responsibility, it comes at a price, that we are not mature enough if we expect too much from democracy. So now there is a massive challenge for the emancipatory politics, the stage where the first excitement is over, what is the second step, how do we go forward without falling to totalitarian temptation, so how do we move from messiah complex but also not creating the 4th reich.
The anthropological reasons why we are having so much trouble realising that one era might be finishing, and we still don’t have a clear plan on how to move forward
Italian philosopher and anthropologist Umberto Galimberti, that wrote on nihilism and the youth today, myths of our time that are staring the life of a contemporary individual.
We cannot find the right way, because money has become the symbolical and actual generator of all values. And also because we live in the era of technology that managed to produce the highest level of rationality so far in the human history. Everything that is outside of the parameter of the values of efficiency rationality and productivity, is not interesting for the modern society that is based on technology. This is the reason why the emotions are reduced only to personal intimate sphere. And in these conditions there is no space for solidarity, we are not coworkers and companions anymore just rivals, in the game for survival. Also the notion of responsibility is reduced down to following the orders, and our responsibility is directed only towards our employer but not to people working with us side by side.
A little anecdote that would prove this is so; Franz Paul Stangl, the director of the concentration camp in Treblinka, was asked how he managed to do all the horrible things they were doing in the concentration camp, It was a crime against humanity, yet the business there went as usual. He replied calmly, ; At 11 am 3.000 people came, that we had to murder until 5pm. Next 3.000 we had to eliminate until the next morning. That was the method of work in that organisation and I was a good functionary. The answer to the question, if somebody is good or bad is reduced merely to weather he is performing his duties well or not. The responsibility does not extent to the subject of the line of work, weather it is moral or not or weather it is generally good or bad. And today, the principle is based on this notion.
This also indicates the high level of rationality in our society, and from rationality to nihilism is just one step apart.
Nietzsche, that invented the concept of nihilism, defined it ; the lack of meaning , lack of answers to the question why, devaluation of all values. The values that are devalued, don’t matter any longer. The first two questions indicated are important, if there is no meaning, the future becomes dangerous and unpredictable, it is no longer a promise and based on hope. Technology there for, is no longer a tool, it constructs a new regime, hard rationality based, that is cutting out of the game all irrelevant factors, people, that are not in line with the goal.
To find support for the tendencies we can look at the Italian political atmosphere with the prime minister Matteo Renzi, that is pointing out that the future belongs to the youth and it is about time that we let them lead the country. Italy had enough of old people running their country, Renzi will commit good and bad things but his central message to the young people is giving them hope He is acknowledging their power and capability. They also possess the sexual energy, that is not the procreational one, since the social economical conditions are not enabling that function, but it is a natural creative power. Young people have that what we loose at some point. Einstein gave to the world the biggest invention when he was 24. Also for Galimberti, most of his brilliant works came between the age of 20’s and 30’s. If a society gives up on that biological power, sexual power, intellectual power, it has no future.
Habermas was talking about the change of economical political system, how current situation is colonising the world of life. Is it even possible to reverse the trend so that the life would have more influence on the system itself instead of being driven by neoliberal ideology of profit and exploitation? Could this be possible by the implementation of direct democracy or by straightening the institutions of the social -civil establishment?
At this point it seems unlikely. For instance, Germany should begin to realise that it cannot impoverish the south of Europe and carry on with the colonisation, maybe one day when the EU establishment is aware of those realities, we will be able to restructure the Europe based on other things apart from economical. One day when we have political Europe, that can be also based on the world of life. But until the main bond and subject of business is the euro, this question cannot be answered.
We are entering or maybe we already have, something called the post-capitalist era.
I would like to point out an article in Guardian, written by Paul Mason.
In his opinion we are entering the post capitalist era. Buzz words such as sharing economy and information technology are ever more present in our every day lives. Even if it will take a long time for a drastic change to happen, it is time to be a bit utopian.
Capitalism will be abolished by the new created alternative, a dynamic, at first, a new unseen that will break trough and reshape the economy and behaviour as we know it. Post capitalism is a possible scenario because of one major thing that changed our history forever and that is the era of information. Firstly, it reduced the need of work labour force and another thing, while markets are based on scarcity the information is abundant. There for we will have to imagine a new system with new ways of valuing things and products. There is a spontaneous rise of collaborative relations and cooperation. They no longer respond to market dictatorship and managerial hierarchies. They are decentralised and autonomous. Let’s take Wikipedia for example it is the world’s biggest information product and its done exclusively by volunteers. The grassroots economy and systems such as parallel currencies, time banks and similar are seen as not real economy by the mainstream economists, they don’t know how to value it and it provokes very little interest. And that is precisely the point and also the reason why it can provoke a radical change in the system. So we have this underground economy, the subculture, that is coexisting, new forms of ownership, sharing economy and commons things like peer-production are thrown around a lot but we never ask ourselves what does this really mean for capitalism?
Because this is no longer just a survival -mechanism a sort of escape alternative to the current situation, it is a new way of living that beings new mindsets and it is in the process of formation.
So how will this affect our every day life?
During the second world war, economist viewed information simply as common good, and that no profit should be made on that account. Then we began to understand intellectual property, and that the purpose of the free market and invention is to create intellectual property rights. This is where we can get to logical conclusion that if a free market economy plus intellectual property are leading to underutilisation of the information, then economy based on full utilisation of information cannot tolerate free market or absolute intellectual property rights.
Where these train of thoughts come from? We will have to go back to Kentish town London in 1858 when karl Marx was writing the fragment on Machines.
He imagines an economy in which the main role of machines is to produce and the human to supervise them. The main productive force is information. and the social knowledge is the one that produced them. Organisation and knowledge made a bigger contribution to productive power then work of making.
Once the knowledge becomes a productive force, the big question arrises who controls the power of knowledge. Connected to this notion, Marx imagines something like information to be collected and stored as a general intellect it will combine all the knowledge of all the minds of everybody on Earth connected by social knowledge in which all the upgrades automatically benefit everyone.
The existence of such reality would blow capitalism sky high.
I believe we are entering the era where the production is not the mean and end of the process, in the information society no thought, or debate or a dream can be valued as useless, no matter where and how it was conceived. Is it utopian to believe that we are on the verge of an evolution? that this is not a final stage of human development?
Why is it so hard to imagine economic freedom when we have all other so called personal freedoms. Why is it impossible to imagine a dissociation of work from wages, nonhierarchical system and abundant information that is free and produces more free things?
Written by Dorotea P.
Slavoj Žižek, on Greece: the courage of hopelessness New Statesman
Paul Manson, The end of capitalism has begun