[Talk delivered at the conference “Человек vs. отчуждение” in Moscow (supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Moscow) by our editor Mihály Koltai.]
In my talk I would like to provide some observations and intuitions on what one might call the psychological basis of contemporary neoliberalism. These are attitudes and engrained habits that one is essentially forced to adopt, contributing to the day-to-day reproduction of the current form of highly unequal and – as I would argue – more and more sadistic form of capitalism, that we can call neoliberalism.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up