Neoliberal and “radical” critiques of the liberal condition clearly came from oppo-site political corners and harbored antagonistic aspirations. At the same time, however, they not only developed during the same period, and out of an equally acute allergy to the hegemony of the Keynesian welfare state, but also centered their critical perspective on the subjective formation that liberal governmentality presupposes, targets, and seeks to reproduce. Indeed, for both neoliberal and radi-cal critics of the 1960s and 1970s, the relationship that individuals establish with themselves — how they care about and take care of themselves — emerged as the privileged framework for political reflection.
This does not mean that either group has neglected social relations or, to put it differently, that neoliberals and leftist radicals resemble one another in that theyrepresent the two sides of the same postmodern narcissistic coin. Though popular among eulogists of the liberal condition — on the left as well as on the right — the conflation of neoliberal self-appreciation and radical autonomy under the rubric “selfishness” is misguided. What neoliberal and radical critics of the liberal con-dition have in common is not that they give precedence to self-regard over the regard for others but that they consider the regard for others from the perspective and as a constitutive part of self-regard. Far from disregarding social concerns to merely focus on personal ones, they no longer recognize the pertinence of allocat-ing the care of others and the care of the self to two distinct realms. In a way, they both hold on to the notion that “the personal is (the) political” — that the contest for the definition of the conditions under which we may appreciate ourselves is politically decisive.
And remember: There is nothing sudden about this. These cicadas have been alive for 17 years, all around you. The ground is full of cicadas always, the same way that the bared midriff passing you on the sidewalk is wrapped around a tube of bacteria and solidifying feces. This is what is always underneath it all. Have a look.
A critique does not consist in saying that things aren’t good the way they are. It consists in seeing on just what type of assumptions, of familiar notions, of established and unexamined ways of thinking the accepted practices are based… To do criticism is to make harder those acts that are now too easy.