“Fuck Neoliberalism”: Some choice words on Neoliberalism by Simon Springer

Interesting take on the use of the word “fuck” in academia here by Simon Springer whose paper “Fuck Neoliberalism” has over 24,000 views on academiaedu (maybe I should add a few expletives to my own titles in future):

Fuck Neoliberalism. …For a time I had considered calling this paper ‘Forget Neoliberalism’ instead, as in some ways that’s exactly what I wanted to do. I’ve been writing on the subject for many years (Springer 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015; Springer et al. 2016) and I came to a point where I just didn’t want to commit any more energy to this endeavor for fear that continuing to work around this idea was functioning to perpetuate its hold. On further reflection I also recognize that as a political manoeuvre it is potentially quite dangerous to simply stick our heads in the sand and collectively ignore a phenomenon that has had such devastating and debilitating effects on our shared world. There is an ongoing power to neoliberalism that is difficult to deny and I’m not convinced that a strategy of ignorance is actually the right approach (Springer 2016a). So my exact thoughts were, ‘well fuck it then’, and while a quieter and gentler name for this paper could tone down the potential offence that might come with the title I’ve chosen, I subsequently reconsidered. Why should we be more worried about using profanity than we are about the actual vile discourse of neoliberalism itself? I decided that I wanted to transgress, to upset, and to offend, precisely because we ought to be offended by neoliberalism, it is entirely upsetting, and therefore we should ultimately be seeking to transgress it. Wouldn’t softening the title be making yet another concession to the power of neoliberalism? I initially worried what such a title might mean in terms of my reputation. Would it hinder future promotion or job offers should I want to maintain my mobility as an academic, either upwardly or to a new location? This felt like conceding personal defeat to neoliberal disciplining. Fuck that.

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“Citizens need to understand that they are consumers”: Irish Water and the Language of Disenfranchisement

Nonameef

The above slide is taken from a presentation called Building Irish Water. After Kerrigan’s article spoke of its existence I did some googling and sure enough I found the slide in two versions of Irish Water presentations online: one bearing the name of Jerry Grant Head of Asset Management for Irish Water, and the other copy is part of an EPA conference presentation given by Dr John Tierney, Irish Water’s Managing Director. The slide lays out their basic marketing objective which is to shift public perceptions of their relationship to water services from that of citizens with water rights to the more compliant role of “consumers” and then “customers”. So much for civic engagement, sounds more like civic disenfranchisement. Continue reading

The Kerins Saga: A Symptom of Wider Systemic Problems

The media’s tendency to orient its reporting towards single events and reduce broad public issues to concrete occurrences – in what is a journalistic practice known as episodic framing (1) (2) – is always in danger of negating the wider implications. This practice is reinforced by a pervasive individualizing perspective of which mainstream media is often guilty. Not to take away from his own large contribution, the media’s eulogizing of Nelson Mandela, for example, on many occasions appeared to reduce the entire anti-apartheid struggle to just one man. The recent shift in attention towards the excessive remuneration package of the CEO of Rehab, Angela Kerins, is another case in point. There is a danger in this evolving narrative of reducing a systemic issue concerning management salaries, particularly amongst the charity sector, to Kerins and the Rehab group. This is an issue that extends well beyond Kerins and even beyond the remit of the Public Accounts Committee. Let’s not forget that this widespread excessive remuneration of large charity CEOs and board members is indicative of the colonization by the business management value system of an arena wherein the common good, social justice, and moral values should prevail (i.e., new managerialism). In this managerialist world it seems leadership is a path to entitlement and managerial prowess is defined by excessive remuneration packages and not as it should be: via the successful distribution of assistance to those who need it most.

So while some in the media begin to lose sight of the underlying systemic narrative to Angela Kerin’s individual remuneration package let us not Continue reading

CRC and the Controlling Network Strategies of the Elite

The fallout from the Central Remedial Clinic top-ups continued over the weekend. The clinic is an organization set-up to provide remedial care for people with disabilities and receives funding from both the government and donations from the public. Recently it came to light that despite cut-backs to the organization, executives were topping up their reduced – yet still excessive – salaries with fund-raised money. An article in The Irish Times on Saturday described the overlap of personnel between the board of the Central Remedial Clinic and directors of its charity arm the Friends and Supporters of the Central Remedial Clinic Limited, along with another charity the Care Trust Ltd. On top of this, all organizations were audited by the same auditor EY: formerly Ernst & Young. Such cross-management control appeared to facilitate the issuing of top-ups and an “interest-free and not repayable in the short term” €3 million loan from Friends and Supporters of the CRC to the CRC in 2012. “It was used to beef up the clinic’s pension scheme during 2012”. All the directors of the Friends and Supporters were also on the Continue reading

Limerick City of Culture: Managing Away the Grievances

With the recent fracas over the Limerick City of Culture project in which four leading members resigned (the CEO’s resignation coming on the back of pressure from the initial resignation of the artistic director; international programmer and legacy programmer) there has been some commentary made on the discourse, particularly from chairman Pat Cox (who is also a seasoned politician), which has emerged in order to sidestep any underlying issues leading up to the resignations. Poet Kevin Higgins managed to piece together, and publish over at the Irish Left Review, some satirical verses from the speeches on the issue:

I am humbled by what I’ve heard here tonight.
I am determined to hit the reset button.
This is a lot more complicated than what actually happened.
I will be taking stock of resourcing requirements.

http://www.irishleftreview.org/2014/01/07/pantoum-limerick-national-city-culture-2014/#sthash.jWe3JpxT.dpuf

Kerrigan writing for the Sunday Independent points to how these “pre-packaged phrases” or “Vaccuspeak” employed as a language of control are attached to the wider power structures in society whereby “meaningless words mask [a] rotten system”: Continue reading