Socialism Vs. Neoliberal Identity Politics

Zizek in the video above beginning at about 9m30s, is righteous:

Post-political society, where social-political life or state rule, is more and more reduced to rational administration. Like, we don’t debate about economy. As Peter Mendelson put it nicely two, three years ago (of course I disagree with him…) but he said, “let’s admit it: we are all Thatcherites in economy.” So the only thing we can do is – you know, when I was young we were still dreaming about ‘socialism with a human face’ — his point was, all we can do is ‘global capitalism with a human face.’ You know, we change a little bit – more tolerant laws, more rights to this/that, more social security – but you accept the rules of the game.

In this state of things, all conflicts are politically neutralized, they are no longer perceived as political economic conflicts; they are restated as cultural conflicts – in this sense, they are naturalized. And of course with cultures – different ways of life – all you can do is tolerate. The solution of the conflict is not ‘I will make you disappear or you will kill me’ but ‘let’s tolerate.’ A nice example is here in Mexico I read how Mexican poor farmers, they try to formulate their fight as exploitation of poor farmers. Nobody was interested. You know, the moment you complain in this way, there is always some neoliberal guy who says ‘yes, but sorry [this is a nice word] structural readjustments are necessary.’ So there is some intelligent manipulation; they reformulated their struggle as the struggle of indigenous people against the Spanish cultural imperialism. All of a sudden, they became much more popular. A nice example but for me a rather sad example of how to be heard at all you have to culturalize your predicament.

When exploitation is normalized by definition no one gives a shit. Only when the exploited can tie their predicament to some kind of social bigotry can they have any hope of remedy – and even then the compensation is less about return of resources and more about an empty recognition of the struggle by the creative upper middle class (“dignity”). Of course the problem is that exploitation and bigotry need not – and increasingly often do not – coincide. In fact the world is run by a veritable Benetton advertisement of a transnational, multiracial, religiously ecumenical neoliberal elite that is quite happy to exploit anyone it can, regardless of color or creed. Exploited groups incentivized to frame their plight as a result of historical bigotry rather than of contemporary economy in turn incentivize other exploited groups to do same in reaction and competition all of which further atomizes and particularizes working and middle class society into tribalist conflict – meanwhile, exploitation intensifies. This is our world, and it sucks.