Brief for 9/24 (Neoliberalism, Power Culture and Virtue)

Historically speaking, the economic factors are the core determinants of how society is structured. Swedberg gives the example of agoras, and explains how it fosters the philosophical and religious frameworks. After the hunting and gathering times, there has been an economic factor behind every social activity. Such social activities not only remains on the social level, but also acts as a determinant of the states’ strength. During the Middle Ages, because of the Silk Road the East held the main economic, thus the political power of the world. Such power was a result from the reinvestments of the profit coming from the economic mobility. Likewise, the same power conjecture can be seen in current climate. With holding the major economic activities, first world countries, like Japan, the US, the UK, are the places of political strength. However, there is a stinging difference between these two cases: their economical structure. This historical comparison allows us to extrapolate that the market helps the build up power for states regardless of their market structure, or their cultural differences.

Bockman emphasizes that neoliberalism contains “wide range of phenomena”, including areas like education, health care, justice, and individual preferences. I admit that economic factors are undeniably important. However, having neoliberalism in the core is giving so much power to monetary values. So, where is the place of virtue in this system? Swedberg signifies the importance of reciprocity within the neoliberal markets. However, what if the person has nothing but her/his virtues to give back to society? Would a neoliberal society accept this exchange? If yes, to what extend?

Furthermore, both papers constantly put emphasize on the dynamic and evolving nature of neoliberal economies. I think such dynamism is nothing different than drawing a circle and running the same loop back and forth. Swedberg introduces us the idea of reinvesting the profit to gain more. Is not only help to increase the gap between wealthy and poor? And is not it going back to feudalism, where wealthy oppresses the poor? As far as I see, neoliberalism does not bring any kind of political improvement either. Despite all the events about economy throughout the history, such as collapse of USSC, OccupyWallStreet, Oil Crisis, political structure has not improved at all. What is the difference between Trump’s pro-American model and Reagan’s hurray-capitalism-all-around-the-globe models? Or the difference between Iron Lady Thatcher and Theresa the Appeaser, except from the delicacy of their curtsy? Yes, people are maybe more aware, or maybe they are more ready to take an action. These rhetorics were also told for the Sixities, yet they did not get out of that loop as well.

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