The plutocrat-backed neoliberal technocracy is being manufactured at universities around the world, and its corrupt ideology is being laundered by publications and think tanks funded by these same, unethical billionaires. And plenty of folks look the other way because they’re more committed to being in networks with the “innovators” than they are in building a world that is caring and just.

Source: HEWN, No. 320

mindfulness has become the perfect coping mechanism for neoliberal capitalism: it privatises stress and encourages people to locate the root of mental ailments in their own work ethic. As a psychological strategy it promotes a particular form of revolution, one that takes place within the heads of individuals fixated on self-transformation, rather than as a struggle to overcome collective suffering.

Source: How mindfulness privatised a social problem

Via: HEWN, No. 314

McMindfulness aims to reduce the stress of the private individual and does not admit to any interest in the social causes of stress.

McMindfulness practices psychologize and medicalize social problems. Rather than a way to attain awakening toward universal love, it becomes a means of self-regulation and personal control over emotions. McMindfulness is blind to the present moral, political and cultural context of neoliberalism. As a result, it does not grasp that an individualistic therapized and commodified society is itself a major generator of social suffering and distress. Instead, the best it can then do, ironically, is to offer to sell us back an individualistic, commodified “cure” – mindfulness – to reduce that distress.

By negating and downplaying actual social and political contexts and focusing on the individual, or more so, the individual’s brain, McMindfulness interventions ignore seeing our inseparability from all others. They ignore seeing our inseparability from inequitable cultural patterns and social structures that affect and constitute our relations, and thereby ourselves. McMindfulness thus forfeits the moral demand that follows this insight: to challenge social inequities and enact universal compassion, service and social justice in all forms of human endeavor.

Without a critical account of the social context of neoliberal individualism, mindfulness as a practice and discourse focused on the self minimizes social critique and change and contributes to keeping existing social injustices and inequitable power structures intact.

Source: How capitalism captured the mindfulness industry | Life and style | The Guardian

See also,

Michael’s big moral surveillance apparatus is a correction, or perhaps update, of Sartre: hell isn’t other people, it’s neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is the practice of transforming everything, even traditionally non-economic phenomena like friendship or learning, into deregulated, financialized markets. Financialized markets are ones built on investment rather than commodity exchange; deregulated markets nominally allow for any and all behavior, but tightly control background conditions so that only a limited range of behavior is possible. Privatizing formerly public things such as infrastructure or schools or prisons is a common method of transforming things into markets. Setting up the season 1 neighborhood so that the quartet of dead people torture each other, Michael is a technocrat who effectively privatizes hell by contracting the work of abuse out to independent, uncompensated laborers. (After all, his whole approach is to disrupt eternal damnation by superficially flipping the good/bad script…It’s Uber, but for hell.)

Source: The Other Secret Twist: On the Political Philosophy of The Good Place – Los Angeles Review of Books

Via: 📓 Neo-Liberalism | Read Write Collect

There is something dangerous about a commitment to funding education, but it has nothing to do with reducing it’s value by making it widely available. Rather as Noam Chomsky has argued, a commitment to funding education and social services is dangerous because it means promoting the value that we care about each other. If neoliberalism is ‘lovelessness as policy’ (Naomi Klein), then any challenge in the form of a social commitment to the least well off is the truly radical alternative to our current system. In an argument for publicly funding higher education, Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom argues, “It reintroduces the concept of public good to higher education discourse-a concept that fifty years of individuation, efficiency fetishes, and a rightward drift in politics have nearly pummeled out of higher education altogether. We no longer have a way to talk about public education as a collective good because even we defenders have adopted the language of competition.”

How would human capital theory put a value on vastly underpaid care labor that is essential to the functioning of the economy, or all of the unpaid work without which society would not function? In her conceptual critique of Becker’s human capital theory, Antonia Kupfer argues that schools do not simply produce human capital in a linear relation because unpaid work is “a precondition of education taking place.” Most of the work that goes into getting a child ready to attend school and to support them throughout their educational careers is unpaid and not counted as productive uses of human capital: from giving birth, to feeding children, washing their clothes, and getting them to school, the feminized work that readies children for education is truly massive. Kupfer asks, “How could ‘productivity’ be measured in the increasing service sector such as care of elderly, counseling or management? In fact, productivity is highly culturally conceptualized and impacted.”

According to Kupfer, the human capital “concept abolishes the difference between labour and capital by conceptualizing all people as capitalists through their capitalized work force.” The idea of human capital seems to democratize potential, when in fact financial capital is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people. Piketty outright rejects the idea of human capital because “human capital cannot be owned by another person or traded on a market (not permanently, at any rate)… In slave societies, of course, this is obviously not true.” (p. 46) If human capital theory was at some point during the mid 20th century kept in balance by a growing international commitment to human rights, Maren Elfert argues that it has “come out of equilibrium when neoliberal conservative governments came into power in the late 1970s which put the human capital approach at the service of an excessive market ideology, under which profit considerations dominated.”

Like so much of our lives under late capitalism, education has been subjected to an “excessive market ideology” for at least the last 50 years. Under human capital theory,“the role of the state could be limited to improving educational standards, expanding access to higher education, and creating flexible job markets that reward talent, ambition, and enterprise.”8 If we want to get to the root causes of why the education system is broken and what can be done to fix it, we need to free ourselves from the ideology that makes Caplan’s calculations all but inevitable.

Source: Why we shouldn’t let economists play with education – Long View on Education