Neoliberalism, Technology and the Creation of Postmodern Culture – Political Critique [DISCONTINUED] (2022)

To Connor O’Callaghan. With tremendous gratitude and love.

(Video) Postmodernism: WTF? An introduction to Postmodernist Theory | Tom Nicholas

The emergence of post-modern conservatism, while perhaps surprising to some, is, in fact, the consequence of very tangible and long-term trends across global society. This is because post-modernism is not first and foremost an intellectual movement, though its inner dynamics were first consciously or unconsciously understood and expressed by intellectuals and artists. Post-modernism is a cultural phenomenon wherein formerly objective epistemological, aesthetic and moral standards for making judgments “melt into the air” to use Marx’s famous expression. What replaces these “objective” standards is complex. For proponents of post-modernism, the collapse of these standards opens new horizons for human creativity and the reevaluation of architectonic concepts such as the self, history, and power. I do not deny that such possibilities are indeed latent within the post-modern culture, and many great artists and intellectuals have engaged in just such creative endeavors. However, post-modern culture can also produce less emancipatory effects. With the effacement of previous standards for judgment, many paradoxically turn to subjective identity as a source of stability and normative authority in an increasingly unmoored world.

(Video) What Is Postmodernism and How Does It Affect Our Culture Today? | Dr. Jamie Dew

Post-Modern Culture and Neoliberalism

I believe David Harvey is right to argue that post-modern culture emerges as a result of the economic, technological, and structural transformations brought about by neo-liberalism. Marx observed long ago that under capitalist conditions “all that is solid melts into air.” I argue that in neo-liberal post-modern culture, this has taken place with accelerating speed and reach. Firstly, capitalist transformations have increasingly brought about growing social fragmentation and alienation as the economy becomes ever more globalized, resulting in greater labor mobility, transforming working conditions, and increasing inequality. Secondly, technological advancements have brought about a hyper-real environment where neo-liberal subjects who feel alienated from these economic transformations increasingly inhabit restricted and highly partisan communication bubbles. The result of this is a growing distrust of alternative political viewpoints and the epistemic and moral foundations upon which they rest. This leads to an even greater sense of social fragmentation, amplified by concerns that internal enemies are responsible for the woes of alienated neo-liberal subjects. Finally, there is growing anxiety about the structural inability of the state apparatus to deal with these transformations, which leads to an authoritarian push to seize political power in order to put a halt to them. I will discuss the first two trends in this section, and the final one in the next.

(Video) The Problems w/ Postmodernism w/ Vivek Chibber and Kenzo Shibata

Post-modern culture emerges in a neoliberal context for a variety of reasons. It is distinct from post-modern philosophy-in all its variety and complexity-as constituting a specific ideological approach to claims about knowledge and politics. Neoliberal economic and political policies have oriented society towards specific conceptions of individualism that detached subjects from their ethnic and cultural identities where these were antithetical to the imperatives of global capitalism. Individual neoliberal subjects were constituted to think of themselves primarily as consumers whose primary agency was to make decisions about what commodities to acquire and how to engage in the economy as market actors looking after their self-interest. From the standpoint of neoliberal ideology, this was to be emancipatory as ethnic and cultural barriers to the pursuit of consumption and self-interest were dissolved.

(Video) The Evolution of Postmodern Thought | Helen Pluckrose

The actual consequence over the long run was to gradually dissolve the shared ethnic and cultural identities which provided individuals with the joint frameworks needed to make comparatively “objective” assessments about knowledge and politics as determined by the hermeneutics of that tradition. This increasingly led individuals to feelings of atomistic detachment from the world, generating the sense of social loneliness and isolation which is often a pre-requisite for the emergence of totalitarianism. This was coupled with the rising inequality and economic instability generated by neo-liberal capitalism, best represented in the Great Recession of 2008 where the rich got richer and the poor were screwed. This generated a large segment of the population that was simultaneously less attached to the ideal of their being andan objective system of knowledge and way of going about politics, increasingly isolated and alone, and willing to blame elite figures for these developments. The consequence of this was that many people became attracted to reactionary politics which emphasized a return to traditional identity and its values, the destruction of the elites responsible for undermining it while retaining the neoliberal skepticism about “objective” truths which were barriers to the pursuit of one’s interest — now interpreted collectively.

(Video) Why Postmodernism Was a Huge Intellectual Step Back

Postmodern Culture and Technological Transformations

This brings me to my second point about the impact of technological transformations in a neoliberal context. The early years of the 21st century were marked by an explosion of new digital technologies and media. The projected social impact of these technologies was aligned with neoliberal ideology. New technologies would bring about the dissolution of ethnic and cultural barriers to dialogue, and thus the consumption of commodities from across the globe. This would, in turn, generate more understanding, tolerance as filtered via neoliberal understandings of rights, and freedom for individuals to create new kinds of identity. In some circumstances, this has indeed been the case. New technologies have brought about dialectical transformations in society with both positive and negative characteristics.

(Video) Post modern Urbanism

We are now witnessing the negative consequence of these transformations. New technologies allowed reactionary and lonely individuals to increasingly coordinate with one another in the hyper-real medium of the internet. 4Chan, Breitbart, the Daily Stormer rose to prominence as communication bubbles where individuals were constantly exposed to narratives about how their given identity was under attack by liberal and multi-cultural elites who used “objectivity” and knowledge to dissolve the values of traditional identities. Constantly exposed to these digitally articulated narratives, and disconnected from the rest of the world by the imperatives of neo-liberal economics and policies, people increasingly adopted what Marcuse characterized as a “one-dimensional” attitude towards the world. Seeking to reclaim space for the ethnic and cultural identities they felt had been lost, they also no longer had the capacity to even recognize the ability of other such identities who also operated in neo-liberal society. Where they did recognize them, it was through the lens of a hermeneutics of suspicion rather than dialogue. This led to growing calls to move out of the digital realm back to the concrete realm of real politics. Reactionaries organized around a given identity and sought to push its understanding of truth and politics against those who argued for a different identity and affiliated values. To do this they needed to seize control of the state apparatus, still the “best” tool available to push back against social transformation and reassert the power of traditional identities and their beliefs.

(Video) Postmodern Critique of Liberal Education | Pope Lecture 2019 | Stephen Hicks

Conclusion: The Emergence of Post-Modern Conservativism as a Political Movement

Reactionaries operating in post-modern neoliberal cultures and empowered by technology often give their ambitions a mythical dimension; saving Western civilization, preventing “white genocide,” making America “great again” and so on. I believe these mythologized politics are deployed by reactionaries to push back against the postmodern culture of neoliberal “last men” and their elite, multicultural allies who are responsible for the loneliness and meaninglessness of neoliberal society. They wish to mobilize traditional identity as the last refuge against nihilism and meaninglessness. The results of that tendency I associate with post-modern culture: the right-wing authoritarian push to buck the erosion of the nation-state and social fragmentation through advocating a malicious form of mythologized identity politics. This is what I term post-modern conservatism.

(Video) Postmodernism and Political Theory - I


What is the main contention of neoliberalism? ›

Naomi Klein states that the three policy pillars of neoliberalism are "privatization of the public sphere, deregulation of the corporate sector, and the lowering of income and corporate taxes, paid for with cuts to public spending".

What is the opposite of neoliberalism? ›

Post-neoliberalism, also known as anti-neoliberalism, is a set of ideals characterized by its rejection of neoliberalism and the economic policies embodied by the Washington Consensus.

Is neoliberalism an ideology? ›

Neoliberalism is the dominant ideology permeating the public policies of many governments in developed and developing countries and of international agencies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and many technical agencies of the United Nations, including the World Health ...

What is neoliberalism in international relations? ›

Liberal institutionalism (or institutional liberalism or neoliberalism) is a theory of international relations that holds that international cooperation between states is feasible and sustainable, and that such cooperation can reduce conflict and competition. Neoliberalism is a revised version of liberalism.

What are the negative impacts of neoliberalism? ›

Others might point out some of the negative effects believed to be associated with neoliberalism. These could include economic inequality, the growth of monopolies, a lack of job security, the loss of jobs due to outsourcing, and an increasing indifference to the needs and well-being of individuals.

What is meant by neo liberalism? ›

neoliberalism, ideology and policy model that emphasizes the value of free market competition. Although there is considerable debate as to the defining features of neoliberal thought and practice, it is most commonly associated with laissez-faire economics.

What is another word for neoliberalism? ›

Liberalist, liberal, progressive.

How has neoliberalism shaped development policy in Africa? ›

Neoliberalism has radically shifted the African public health space in the last two decades. Most sub-Saharan African countries drastically reduced their healthcare budgets following the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Structural Adjustment programs (SAPs) directives.

What does neoliberalism mean in education? ›

In terms of education, it promotes marketisation policies and transferring services into the private ownership rather than government control.

What is neoliberalism social work? ›

Neoliberalism itself is a political ideology/philosophy which aims to transform the welfare state and in turn social work by liberating markets and corporate capital from the constraints of post-war social democracy (Clarke J.

What does political cause mean? ›

a of, involved in, or relating to government policy-making as distinguished from administration or law. b of or relating to the civil aspects of government as distinguished from the military. 3 of, dealing with, or relating to politics.

What are the impacts of neoliberalism? ›

Globally, the rolling out of neoliberal policies has led to a additional of harmful socioeconomic consequences, including increased poverty, unemployment, unproductive labour force, and deterioration of income distribution (Rotarou and Sakellariou 2017; Collins et al.

Who does neoliberalism benefit? ›

With lower levels of government regulation and taxation, it incentivizes companies to invest – both from foreign as well as domestic firms. This is because the benefits the firm receives is much higher. So if it makes an additional profit of $1 million, it is able to keep more of this than if taxes were double.

What is the difference between neoliberalism and neorealism? ›

While neorealists focus on security measures, neoliberal institutionalists place a greater emphasis on transnational issues like economic and environmental concerns—those they see can be addressed in a cooperative and multilateral manner (Keohane 2020).

How does neoliberalism affect individuals? ›

Neoliberalism and social inequality

Common economic and social consequences of neoliberal policies include reduced access to social security and increased social inequality (Müller, 2013; Piketty, 2015).

Why Neoliberalism is bad for developing countries? ›

The effects of neoliberal policies were debt crises, severe environmental degradation and crashing economies, currency collapse, rising unemployment, rising food and fuel prices, and falling wages.

What is neoliberalism in human rights? ›

Neoliberal doctrine seeks to reduce the role of the state on which human rights depend for protection and implementation, including to diminish or even eliminate its social and welfare responsibilities.

What does free-market capitalism mean? ›

What Does Free Market Capitalism Mean? Any economy is capitalist as long as private individuals control the factors of production. A purely capitalist economy is also a free market economy, meaning the law of supply and demand, rather than a central government, regulates production, labor, and the marketplace.

What is neoliberalism Cambridge Dictionary? ›

/ˌniː.oʊˈlɪb. ər. əl.ɪ.zəm/ the policy of supporting a large amount of freedom for markets, with little government control or spending, and low taxes: Professional and managerial women have done well out of neoliberalism.

What are the imminent threats on the global economy? ›

As a result, the risks of the most genuinely existential threats—climate change, technological slowdown, racial and gender-based oppression, digital disinformation and removal of privacy, aging populations, and the likely recurrence of epidemics—have risen.

What are the impacts of neoliberalism? ›

Globally, the rolling out of neoliberal policies has led to a additional of harmful socioeconomic consequences, including increased poverty, unemployment, unproductive labour force, and deterioration of income distribution (Rotarou and Sakellariou 2017; Collins et al.

Who does neoliberalism benefit? ›

With lower levels of government regulation and taxation, it incentivizes companies to invest – both from foreign as well as domestic firms. This is because the benefits the firm receives is much higher. So if it makes an additional profit of $1 million, it is able to keep more of this than if taxes were double.

Why is neoliberalism bad for developing countries? ›

Globally, the rolling out of neoliberal policies has led to a plethora of harmful socioeconomic consequences, including increased poverty, unemployment, and deterioration of income distribution (Rotarou and Sakellariou 2017; Collins et al. 2015).

What is a characteristic of neoliberal theories quizlet? ›

Neoliberalism. A theory of political economic practices that proposes that human well-being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skills within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade.


1. Post modern Urbanism
2. Postmodern Critique of Liberal Education | Pope Lecture 2019 | Stephen Hicks
(CEE Video Channel)
3. Postmodernism and Political Theory - I
4. Neoliberalism, World Music and Corporate Aesthetics
(Jonas Čeika - CCK Philosophy)
5. Baudrillard Postmodernism - Simulacra and Simulation
(Simple Philosophy)
6. Francis Fukuyama: Liberalism and Its Discontents
(Commonwealth Club of California)

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