The Ugly Marriage of Postmodernism and Neoliberalism

When speaking of postmodernist philosophy and neoliberal capitalism, the best opening question might be which came first, the philosophy or the economic system. Both are based on an assumption that human life is essentially meaningless, mutable and, in the case of neoliberalism, a means to make a profit from every possible human action. Like Jim Morrison sang in his 1970 release “Roadhouse Blues,” “the future’s uncertain and the end is always near.” Therefore, change who you are to whatever you want to be even if it’s only for a year or two, privatize anything you can get away with, put a price on it and tell everyone that this is the future ordained.

One can oppose this, but doing so can easily being assimilated into the neoliberal equivalent of the borg on Star Trek—a phenomenon described in Wikipedia like this: “The Borg co-opt the technology and knowledge of other alien species to the Collective through the process of “assimilation”: forcibly transforming individual beings into “drones….” Whether one is cross-dressing a la David Bowie, Lou Reed and other so-called glam rockers in the 1970s, becoming an alien as Bowie did at least twice in his career (Ziggy Stardust and The Man Who Fell to Earth) or playing video games where one assumes a character intent on murder, the rejection of the powers that be is ultimately atomized and meaningless. In other words, resistance is futile.

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Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. He has a new book, titled Nowhere Land: Journeys Through a Broken Nation coming out in Spring 2024.   He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at:

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