[Marxism] 'Historicising the Neoliberal Spirit of Capitalism'

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Dec 23 06:16:45 MST 2015

> How, therefore, has the notion of individualism been recast in relation to the
> neoliberal spirit of capitalism? Among many illustrations, developments in
> consumerism can be noted. In advertising, the nurturing of the self, through the
> purchase of commodities, is frequently offered as being both desirable and necessary.
> The neoliberal twist on ‘individual’ is distinctive in at least two ways. First, the
> category of ‘the consumer’ has now extended into other fields, such as politics,
> education, and health. While consumer has always carried an unfavourable tone,
> initially meaning to destroy and to waste, one could argue that the popularisation of
> the term beyond purely commercial settings is helping to neutralise this criticism.
> Second, with the valorisation of choice and competitiveness as guiding principles for
> societal organisation, the appeal to personalisation and customisation offers further
> extensions of neoliberal thinking. From the late 1980s, these latter expressions
> became concerns for many businesses, with marketing theory helping to craft, and
> implement, such agendas. The rise of ‘mass customisation’ systems was made
> financially viable by new flexible manufacturing processes, such as seen in the
> automotive industry (Davis 1989; Kotler 1989; Alford, Sackett, and Nelder 2000). In
> this sense, therefore, the marketing of individualised choice to larger populations – a
> visible phenomena by turn of the century – required the development of an elaborate
> infrastructure, with respect to manufacturing, processing, and trade


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