Wednesday, April 29, 2009

With Great Neoliberalism Comes Great Responsibility.

Supernanny: "I'm living clip-art"

Becker makes it clear that the 20th century saw the placement of increasing responsibility on the nuclear family to be self-sufficient while governmental services were cut. However, Becker also mentions "out-of-control children and exasperated parents" indicating the stress such responsibility likely causes. Is it possible that the marked decline in married households from 1950-2000 is a conscious backlash against the burdens of atomized parenting? Or is it more likely a symptom of an unrealistic familial ideal? For all the development of the dominance of the heteronormative, neoliberal family, does it seem so unlikely that either nanny show could incorporate a single parent family or *gasp* a two dad/two mom family into the show? What would this say about the desires of commercial culture and the flexibility of neoliberal capitalism?

Ouellette quoted Rose who wrote that people working together for a common national interest has been replaced by the "ideal of citizens seeking to fulfill and protect themselves within a variety of micro-moral domains." (141) Does this view coincide with the "I don't care what you do as long as its in your home and not in public" sentiment that is sometimes used by heteronormative folks to convey a tolerant/progressive stance toward non-heteronormative expression? If so, does this sentiment seem to be more or less prominant than the trend of legislating universal morality as in anti-gay marraige laws? What are the limitations of both of these trends?

It is peculiar that despite all the emphasis on personal responsibility, Ouellette seems to find evidence for dependence on the state by Judy's scolding of un-married cohabitants. Doesn't the emphasis on personal responsibility also seem to contradict the continued support for keeping drugs and prostitution illegal? Doesn't it seem to contradict the fairly widespread support for the proliferation of a surveillance state? (sorry, I can't find the original article) How is it that expectations for personal responsibility seem to be growing at pace with state control over private life?

In Roberts' article in the Postfeminism book, he argues that government is increasingly subject to the interests of capital. Roberts writes, "governmentality [a subset of biopower?] is driven primarily by the agendas and interests of neoliberal capitalism as much as of the state, that indeed, the state and its institutions are increasingly subject to these interests and have taken on an instrumental role in securing them." (lower on 231) my emphasis added. I think it is hard to underestimate the significance of this statement. What does democratic participation/democracy mean when government has "taken an instrumental role in securing" the interests of neoliberal capitalism? The saying "if you don't vote, you can't complain" seems saturated in the personal responsibility exhorted by neoliberalism which, at the same time, substantially restricts the range of choices offered by the democratic system. Such "blame the victim" mentality, emphasis of personal responsibility for the situation in spite of no control over the range of choices/candidates, and denial of any alternative to the situation (contemporary US democracy) all mimic some of the stages in the cycle of abuse.
Everything will be all right. You are in my hands. I am here to protect you. You have nowhere to go. You cannot survive outside the city shell. We only want to help you. This is your last chance. THX 1138

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