The organisation’s total grip on the human being

Powerful Drivers: Totalitarian Market Society, Imperialism and Regime

Powerful Drivers: Totalitarian Market Society, Imperialism and Regime

Phenomena such as the blurring of boundaries and hyper‐​inclusion would not take place in this revolutionary form, encompassing the entire human being, if there were not underlying, powerful driving forces guided by interests. The focus here is primarily on globalisation, economisation, and individualisation, which for a long time ran under a common label: Neoliberalism.

The pugnacious Norbert Blüm writes, in his bestseller »Gerechtigkeit. Eine Kritik des Homo Economicus« (2005): »We are dealing with an economy that is preparing to become totalitarian because it seeks to force everything under the command of an economic ratio. Market economy, i. e. a segment, is to become market society. This is the new imperialism. It no longer conquers new territories but sets out to capture people’s brains and hearts. Its regime of occupation renounces physical violence and occupies centres of man’s inner control.« – He is not alone in this in the period before the financial crisis. Christoph Butterwegge also sharply concludes in his »Critique of Neoliberalism« (2007) that the claim to power of this »occupation regime« is total and universal: »Total through its claim to a comprehensive depoliticisation of the social and universal in terms of its global claim to validity.«

Carlo Strenger (2011), in the aforementioned work, is of the opinion that neoliberalism is no longer the dominant paradigm, at the latest since the financial crisis: »The collapse of the financial markets startled us out of the neoliberal conviction that capitalism had discovered the essence of what a fulfilled human life is. With the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the demise of this dogma was sealed; now even the most stubborn advocates of rampant capitalism realised that a historical epoch had come to its end.«

In recent times, however, critics have been appearing on the scene more frequently, who, above all through the confrontation with infotech corporations such as Google or Amazon, have identified totalitarian traits in the form of total surveillance, even of the private sphere, in these companies. In a commentary in the German FAZ (»Die Google‐​Gefahr: Schürfrechte am Leben«, 2014), Soshana Zuboff, for example, also points out that previous totalitarian political systems left niches free because they could not control them. This, according to Zuboff, is now being taken over by corporations, controlled by their own profit interests.

Almost all critics of neoliberalism also describe an important contradiction: on both a social and an individual level, it promotes freedom and emancipation, but as a »totalitarian system« it aims to »bring society and the individual into conformity with its dogmatic market fundamentalism« (Jon Kofas, »Neoliberal Totalitarianism and the Social Contract«, 2019). Here, too, we see a blurring of boundaries that were thought to be secure.