(Paul, 4/21, fellow at the Mercatus Center, Hudson Insitute, “The Great Transition and the Social Limits to Growth: Herman Kahn on Social Change and Global Economic Development”, April 21, http://www.hudson.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=publication_details&id=2827)
Stopping things would mean if not to engage in an experiment to change the human nature, at least in an equally difficult experiment in altering powerful cultural forces: "We firmly believe that despite the arguments put forward by people who would like to 'stop the earth and get off,' it is simply impractical to do so. Propensity to change may not be inherent in human nature, but it is firmly embedded in most contemporary cultures. People have almost everywhere become curious, future oriented, and dissatisfied with their conditions. They want more material goods and covet higher status and greater control of nature. Despite much propaganda to the contrary, they believe in progress and future" (Kahn, 1976, 164). As regarding the critics of growth that stressed the issue of the gap between rich and poor countries and the issue of redistribution, Kahn noted that what most people everywhere want was visible, rapid improvement in their economic status and living standards, and not a closing of the gap (Kahn, 1976, 165). The people from poor countries have as a basic goal the transition from poor to middle class. The other implications of social change are secondary for them. Thus a crucial factor to be taken into account is that while the zero-growth advocates and their followers may be satisfied to stop at the present point, most others are not. Any serious attempt to frustrate these expectationsor desires of that majority is likely to failand/or create disastrous counter reactions. Kahn was convinced that "any concerted attempt to stop or even slow 'progress' appreciably (that is, to be satisfied with the moment) is catastrophe-prone". At the minimum, "it would probably require the creation of extraordinarily repressive governments or movements-and probably a repressive international system" (Kahn, 1976, 165; 1979, 140-153). The pressures of overpopulation, national security challenges and poverty as well as the revolution of rising expectations could be solved only in a continuing growth environment. Kahn rejected the idea that continuous growth would generate political repression and absolute poverty. On the contrary, it is the limits-to-growth position "which creates low morale, destroys assurance, undermines the legitimacy of governments everywhere, erodes personal and group commitment to constructive activities and encourages obstructiveness to reasonable policies and hopes". Hence this position "increases enormously the costs of creating the resources needed for expansion, makes more likely misleading debate and misformulation of the issues, and make less likely constructive and creative lives". Ultimately "it is precisely this position the one that increases the potential for the kinds of disasters which most at its advocates are trying to avoid" (Kahn, 1976, 210; 1984).
Criticizing neoliberalism as a hegemonic structure fails – it disempowers movements and discourages activism – embrace political shifts
Griffith, 14 (Jon; 8/13/14; professor of social science, University of East London; The Guardian, “The Neoliberalism Myth Disempowers Us,” http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/aug/13/neoliberalism-myth-disempowers-us)
When I was growing up, “consumerism” was the bogey. Later, it was “individualism”. Now it’s “neoliberalism” (George Monbiot, 6 August). But these ideas mask the truth: if I move my mortgage or my savings from one bank to another to get a fractionally improved rate of interest, then I, too, am screwing the economy, and, ultimately, the planet; and, uncomfortably for Guardian readers, it’s the hundreds of millions of people like us, worldwide, who do most of the damage – not the super-rich. We’re not neoliberals, nor selfish, nor acquisitive, just ordinary people, doing our best to eat, live, and pay the salary of whoever sold us the cover we took out, so we don’t have to pay a week’s wages to get the boiler fixed. Widespread belief in the neoliberalism myth, like others before it, leads to widespread disempowerment: the larger and vaguer the abstraction, the less able we feel (and are) to take effective action. We can change our habits, influence others and reform institutions (radically as well as incrementally), whether alone or jointly, in response to specific wrongs, abuses and injustices, but the idea of neoliberalism does not help. And Monbiot himself acknowledges a further problem: if the neoliberal condition actually exists nowhere – and not even its alleged advocates believe in it, or want it – then it cannot be the enemy we have so collusively and easily settled on. He is right about the pervasive bureaucratic juggernaut, but neoliberalism does not explain it: we need a better theory.
Revolution fails – prefer concrete political actions
Han, 14 (Byung-chul; 9/12/14; professor at the Universität der Künste Berlin; World Crunch, http://www.worldcrunch.com/opinion-analysis/why-revolution-is-impossible-on-the-seductive-power-of-neoliberalism/byung-chul-han-leadership-work-imf-crisis-economics/c7s16949/)
When a debate took place in Berlin last year between two opponents of capitalism, Antonio Negri and myself, Negri took the position that global resistance to “Empire” was a possibility. He presented himself as a communist revolutionary and called me a skeptical professor. Negri apparently believes a "multitude" — the interconnected protest and revolutionary mass — can bring down the neoliberal leadership system. I felt that the position of communist revolutionary was naive and removed from reality, and I tried to explain why, today, revolution is no longer possible. Why is our neoliberal system of global leadership so stable? Why is there so little resistance to it? Why is everyone led so easily into the void? Why is revolution no longer possible today despite an ever-growing chasm between rich and poor? To explain, we need greater understanding about how power and leadership function today. Anyone trying to install a new leadership system has to eliminate resistance. And that includes the neoliberal governance system. To bring about a new system of leadership, you need established power often achieved through violence. But this established power is not the same as the stabilizing power inside a system. It is well known that Margaret Thatcher, a precursor of neoliberalism, considered unions as "inner enemies" and fought them forcefully. Installing a neoliberal agenda via aggressive intervention will not, however, yield the necessary kind of stabilizing power needed to keep a system in place. That power in the disciplinary and industrial society was repressive.Factory workers were brutally exploited by factory owners, and the violent exploitation of workers led to protest and resistance. A revolution that would bring down the existing production system was possible then. In this repressive system, both the repression and the repressors were identifiable. There was a concrete enemy to address resistance to. Better than repression The neoliberal leadership system is structured entirely differently. Here the power needed to keep the system going is not repressive — it is seductive, alluring. It is no longer as clear-cut as it is under a disciplinary regime. There is no concrete “them,” no enemy, repressing freedom and against whom rebellion would be possible. Never has our society been as rich as it is today. And some people in it are richer than others. French economist Thomas Piketty warns that the disparities could become as drastic as they were in feudal times. Neoliberalism turns the exploited worker into a free entrepreneur — the entrepreneur of himself. Everyone is now a self-exploiting worker in his own business. Everyone is master and servant in one. Class warfare has changed into a running inner battle with the self. Failing today means blaming oneself and feeling ashamed. People see themselves as the problem, not society. Any disciplinary system that expends a great deal of force to repress people is inefficient. Considerably more efficient is a system of power that ensures that people voluntarily align with the system. The particular efficiency here is that it doesn’t work based on forbidding and withholding, but through pleasing and fulfilling. Instead of making people obedient it aims to make them dependent. Uber arrives in Paris (UBER/FB) Neoliberalism’s logic of efficiency also applies to policing. In the 1980s, there were many protests against population censuses; even school kids protested against it. From today’s standpoint, the easy availability of information about our educational and career backgrounds is a given, but there was a time now long gone when people believed that the state was trying to wrest information from citizens. Today we give up information of our own accord, perceiving this as freedom. And it is precisely that perception that makes protest impossible. Unlike the days when we protested population censuses, we do not protest this monitoring. What does one protest against? Oneself? American concept artist Jenny Holzer expresses this paradoxical situation with a "truism:" "Protect me from what I want." It is crucial to distinguish between the kind of power that activates and the kind of power that maintains. The latter today takes on a smart, friendly form that makes it opaque and unassailable. The exploited subject is unaware of his own oppression. He imagines he is free. This leadership technique neutralizes resistance most effectively. Leadership that oppresses freedom and attacks it is not stable. The neoliberal regime is as stable as it is, immunized against resistance, because it makes use of freedom instead of suppressing it. Suppressing freedom leads quickly to resistance, whereas exploiting freedom does not. A Korean case The Asian financial crisis of 1997 left South Korea shocked and paralyzed. Then along came the International Monetary Fund to give the Koreans credit. Initially, the government had to battle against protests to press through a neoliberal agenda. This repressive power is the kind of power that mostly relies on violence and it is not the kind of power that can maintain a neoliberal regime passing itself off as freedom. To Naomi Klein, the state of shock societies find themselves in after financial crises such as those in South Korea or Greece is an opportunity for a radical reprogramming of society. Today there is hardly any resistance in South Korea. Instead, conformity and consensus are paired with depression and burn-out. The country now has the highest suicide rate in the world. One turns violence against one's self instead of trying to change society. Aggression aimed outward, which would result in revolution, becomes self-aggression. There is no cooperative, interconnected multitude to rise up in global protest and revolution. Rather, the solitude of the isolated, individual self-entrepreneur is what marks present-day production. In the past, businesses were in competition with each other, but within individual companies solidarity was possible. Today, everyone is in competition with everyone else, even within companies. This absolute competition increases productivity enormously, but it destroys solidarity and the sense of public spirit. Revolution is not possible among exhausted, depressive, and isolated individuals. Along for the ride (UBER/FB) One cannot explain neoliberalism in Marxist terms. It doesn’t even have the connotation of “alienation” from work. People today throw themselves into work euphorically until they burn out. Burn-out and revolution cancel each other out. So it is a mistake to believe that the multitude is throwing over a parasitic Empire in favor of a communist society. Where do things stand with communism? Buzzwords everywhere include “sharing” and “community.” The sharing economy is supposed to replace an economy of ownership and property. "Sharing is Caring" runs the maxim of “circlers" in Dave Eggers’s novel The Circle but that should really read “Caring is Killing.” Even ridesharing service Uber, which turns us all into prospective taxi drivers, espouses the idea of community. Capitalist circle But it is a mistake to believe, as Jeremy Rifkin suggests in his book The Zero Marginal Cost Society that the sharing economy means the end of capitalism and rings in a global, community-oriented society in which sharing is more valued than owning. On the contrary. Bottom line, the sharing economy leads to a complete commercialization of life. The change from ownership to “access” celebrated by Jeremy Rifkin doesn’t free us from capitalism. Anyone without money doesn’t have access to sharing. Even in the age of access, people without money remain shut out. Airbnb, the community marketplace that turns homes into hotels, even saves on hospitality. The ideology of community or collaborative commons leads to total capitalization of the community. Aimless friendship is no longer possible. In a society of reciprocal evaluation, friendliness is also commercialized. One is friendly to get a better ranking online. The harsh logic of capitalism prevails in the so-called sharing economy, where, paradoxically, nobody is actually giving anything away voluntarily. Capitalism comes full circle when it sells communism as the next piece of merchandise. Yes, communism as merchandise spells the end of revolution.