Sunday, February 11, 2018

Professor Paul Verhaeghe - Neoliberalism: The force isn’t with you…

Professor Paul Verhaeghe says how we are competitive creatures but also cooperative creatures. Think of a football team where group effort and cooperation wins the game, but everyone would love to be the person who gets the goals. In neoliberalism, says Paul Verhaeghe, the cooperative bit has been left out with only the competitive bit left in.

Take a look at the embedded video where at about ten minutes in you will see an experiment with two monkeys where one gets a grape and the other gets a cucumber for completing a task. It's hilarious, because the one that the gets the cucumber goes mad because it sees it as unfair, it's behaviour is just like ours. Humans are hard wired to act like this and so in our over competitive society depression and anxiety disorders are on the rise as neoliberalism causes grievances.

Paul Verhaeghe says how we are in a rat race and that good feelings of success don't last very long. In my last company you were only as good as your last task, one mess up and you was at the bottom of the heap again. 

I remember how my mum worked in a shop and they had a chart on the wall in the office for the best salesperson of the week. There was no extra money for being the top salesperson but no one wanted to be on the bottom.  KV

Paul Verhaeghe, professor of clinical psychology and psychoanalysis at the University of Ghent claims we live in an extremely controlling society, where authority has all but disappeared. Traditional authority has lapsed into brute force and we ourselves must make take the first steps towards creating a new social order.
In his new book, Says Who, Verhaeghe’s argument for good authority over state-sponsored violence is simple: Only by strengthening the power of horizontal groups within existing social structures such as education, the economy and the political system, can we restore authority to its rightful place. This, he explains, is one of those functions that cannot be left to the so-called ‘free market’.

So what drives this thinking and where does it come from? We travelled to Belgium to speak to Verhaeghe, who argues that the economic order we live under, called neoliberalism, has changed us for the worse.
Life is dog-eat-dog. Business is dog-eat-dog. Society apparently, is dog-eat-dog and of course the workplace, well, that’s dog-eat-dog. But here’s a question: When was the last time you saw a dog, eating a dog? Dogs, like humans, are social, pack animals that are predisposed to cooperation, but a certain type of indoctrination, has led humans to the cynical belief that we are hardwired to cannibalise each other in a vain attempt to gain an advantage.
Verhaeghe’s view is simple: neoliberalism runs contrary to how human beings naturally operate and has brought out the very worst aspects of human behaviour.
“The way I define neoliberalism is that it is an economic ideology,” said Verhaeghe. “It started within economics, but very soon it took over the other fields as well. Nowadays it’s everywhere. It’s in art, it’s in education, health care. Everything has been, has become, a product and everybody is someone who has to produce, and the more he or she produces, the better he or she is supposed to be. This has determined our identity in the meantime.”
Human being are social animals. We are meant to live in a group, and we are competitive. Neoliberalism has taken out one of the two, turning us into competitive beings who are only looking out for number one, all day long.
“We have forgotten about the group, but at the same time, we need the group,” says Verhaeghe. “The oldest punishment that you find everywhere in every culture for a child is being put out of the group.”

We have abandoned our group in favour of hyper-individualism.
Renegade Inc. 

Professor Paul Verhaeghe - Neoliberalism: The force isn’t with you…


Matt Franko said...

Kaivey this is just “Social Darwin”... vs just “Darwin”...

Matt Franko said...

"everybody is someone who has to produce,"

This is more less the dominant theme since Babel...

Ryan Harris said...

We've caricatured neolibs into something they aren't entirely. Don't agree with their policies but if you separate the debunked orthodox Chicago economics which neolibs used to champion from the rest of neoliberalism they aren't as toxic. Economists like to point fingers at every one besides themselves for their own policy failures.

Six said...

Good point, Ryan. In the same way, axe murderers aren’t bad people if you ignore the fact that they murder people with axes. You may be on to something.