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the end of the neoliberal self

We’re gradually getting the feature articles from Overland 194 online. I’ve just put up Mark Furlong’s piece ‘Crying to be Heard’, a really interesting article about what the GFC means for notions of selfhood. Mark argues:

An old Arabic saying suggests that ‘men resemble their times more than their fathers’. An event of the magnitude we are experiencing will produce psycho-social effects. So what options for selfhood and identity might the financial crisis create?

Unlike boosters who breathlessly predict a future which qualitatively breaks with the present (see, for example, Damien Broderick’s The Spike), the novelist William Gibson once said, ‘the future is already here – it’s just unevenly distributed’. If we look around we will find that the templates for the post-crisis subject are already present. Four possible images, four more or less intermingling options, are put forward below.

The first and most obvious consideration is that the outlook is significantly dystopian. The logical correlate is that people will become depressed and anxious.

Because of the human tendency to fantasy – to project our inner landscape onto what is around us – hopelessness sets the stage for a suppression of mood and, most often, for a lessening of agency. Current research on what are termed ‘high prevalence primary mental health problems’ – anxiety and depression – clearly indicates that this cluster of ‘symptoms’ is on the rise.

You can read the full essay here.

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Jeff Sparrow is the former editor of Overland. He is the co-author (with Jill Sparrow) of Radical Melbourne: A Secret History and Radical Melbourne 2: The Enemy Within, the editor (with Antony Loewenstein) of Left Turn: Essays for the New Left and the author of Communism: a love story, Killing: Misadventures in violence, and Money Shot: A Journey into Censorship and Porn.  On Twitter, he's @Jeff_Sparrow.

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