Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Polity, Policy & the Passions

"Voodoo sociology" (UKIP) -- our coalition gov't will statistically monitor our happiness. "The Office for National Statistics is to devise questions for a household survey, to be carried out up to four times a year."


Dillow's blog post about it: "[...] happiness policy is leftist policy [...]"

Blastland at the BBC: "[...] Maybe that's because to be really happy it has to be a war of national survival [...]"


Power: "[...] audit is generally a form of control of control. What is subject to inspection is the auditee's own system for self monitoring rather than the real practices of the auditee [...]"


& Marcuse, from One Dimensional Man: "This liberation of sexuality (and of aggressiveness) frees the instinctual drives from much of the unhappiness and discontent that elucidate the repressive power of the established universe of satisfaction. To be sure, there is pervasive unhappiness, and the happy consciousness is shaky enough – a thin surface over fear, frustration, and disgust. This unhappiness lends itself easily to political mobilization; without room for conscious development, it may become the instinctual reservoir for a new fascist way of life and death. But there are many ways in which the unhappiness beneath the happy consciousness may be turned into a source of strength and cohesion for the social order. The conflicts of the unhappy individual now seem far more amenable to cure than those which made for Freud's “discontent in civilization,” and they seem more adequately defined in terms of the “neurotic personality of our time” than in terms of the eternal struggle between Eros and Thanatos."


& unhappiness is pretty much a priori an evil right?

So Mouffe: "My concern is that this type of politics – one played out in the moral register – is not conducive to the creation of the ‘agonistic public sphere’ which, as I have argued, is necessary for a robust democratic life. When the opponent is defined not in political but in moral terms, he can be envisaged only as an enemy, not an adversary: no agonistic debate is possible with the ‘evil them’; they must be eradicated."


How does the happiness news make you feel? It has a New Labour mouthfeel about it, but also a seasonal effervescence of New Tory market research which spreads to my toes. In the context of the coalition gov't (be careful what you wish for, be careful what you stakeholder-engage) it makes me feel happier.

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