The dogs bark and the caravan goes by: Orwell and Žižek

Harnessing Chaos

In contemporary analyses of neoliberalism, there is a standard argument that neoliberalism absorbs or tolerates critque as just another aspect of a series of endless and ultimately non-threatening identities. Žižek, for instance, argued that the privileged leftist academic will make demands about immigration or welfare that they really know will never be met and would damage the privileged position of the leftist academic if they were. This way the ‘radical’ academic can (hypocritically) maintain their radical posture while capitalism continues effectively untroubled. Variants on this argument are common in Žižek’s publications. Put another way, the dogs bark and the caravan goes by (a straightforward saying that the British press pretend, for reasons of clickbait, is cryptic or bizarre).

Whether this is a fair argument is for another day (is it outdated in light of post-2008 developments?). But decades before neoliberalism, and just before the emergence of the post-war settlement…

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