In his study of Governmentality, in amongst many other points of analysis, Foucault points to the de-estabilishment of the economy from the family framework as the turning point to our current political condition. Sparked by the growth of Market theory, the rise of the social contract and the transformation for Authority to consider the population as actors over their own need to retain sovereignty, the age of the ‘political economy’ was born. It was the new paradigm shift that the West needed to retain (neo)imperial authority – the ideology through which all means scould be justified, and the individual could born, and that (s)he could be forced to become self-sufficient.
Drilled through capitalist doctrine since, the importance of the market has allow for many other values to slip away – economic performance now shapes political narratives and discourses. Everyone has economic potential, and success is overwhelmingly measured through monetary means. The poor have become responsible for the own poverty – state responsibility has no place. History is dead – you can’t blame the suppression of your ancestors if everyone has economic “opportunity”.
This is not just the narrative of neoliberalism, it is the narrative of empire. The voices unheard in this debate not only come from the left, but are the voices of the Global South. Their recession and global crisis occurred well before – not with Structural Adjustment Programmes, but with colonialism itself.
History is the story of the victor, as is well known. But it is not only history that has been reshaped, but diversity itself. Through the hegemony of capitalism, most nations are governed by the native informant – those who accept oppression and enable it through their claims to represent those who they do not. While there is resistance in the form of hybridity, the reliance on monetary forms of exchange have utterly transformed how valuation works. The communal notion of barter is vastly dead, bringing about the enormous re-evalution of cultural goods and services.
These are not just transformative processes, but imperialist ones. And that is clear through the way in which goods and services are valued. The production of grain, for example, is paid poorly (essential to existance though it is), while financial services are paid highly (not essential to living). What was once valued in small scale communities is devalued through the global trade network. A small-scale community has grown from being relatively self-sustainable to being a tiny seller on a long long network of food supply. And it is that change of valuation that is the risk we need to think about, not just poverty. Poverty is only the product of this process.
There is a way to change this, but it would mean that there would have to be a global paradigm shift. We need to decentralise the market from our process of valuation. We need to reshape our norms and values through the language of justice and rights than through the language of monetary and economic means.
This must not merely be an anti-capitalist movement, but a movement that deshackles itself from the hegemony of the ‘political economy’ as its organising principle. It is a movement that needs to revisualise what kind of societies it would like to have globally, a movement that throws away the chains of the cold war left/right divide, and a movement that clear establishes a real alternative.
The problem is the hegemony of the market. Stop talking through economics, and the political power play is much much easier to defeat.