Neoliberal moralism and the fiction of Europe: a postcolonial perspective

Sadia Abbas in Open Democracy:

VisitBoth in and out of Greece, much has been made in recent weeks of the amateurishness of the current Greek government, of its brinksmanship, of its confrontational style, of its inability to understand rules, of it's squandering of trust. Let's grant all this for a moment. However, if we take this critique seriously, then EU officials look worse not better than before. They come across as petulant incompetents unable to deal with an unruly colleague (Yannis Varoufakis), annoyed at people who don't wear ties, intrusive in their insistence that Alexis Tsipras wear one, so unprofessional that they let the fate of nations hang in the balance, destroying societies and lives because they are caught up in a squabble with a few colleagues they don't like.

Moreover, the invocations of etiquette, codes, rules, and the repetition of cliches of fiscal rectitude and household thrift are part of the moral economy of a neoliberalism that manipulates people into thinking that nations can be run like households and life is a tea party, where all will be fine if one sticks out ones little finger while holding a teacup with delicate poise. One of neoliberalism's biggest successes has been to persuade people that if everyone just behaved with propriety and thrift, life would be better. If people have fallen for this story, it's because this gives them the illusion of agency in an environment where there is a premium on precisely that agency. Capitalism tells us that we are in control of our destinies and can invent and reinvent ourselves at will, making money into the bargain.

That this is not really borne out by current events is beside the point.

More here.