“The more we live as 'free individuals' . . . the more we are effectively non-free, caught within the existing frame of possibilities--we have to be impelled or disturbed into freedom. . . .
This paradox thoroughly pervades the form of subjectivity that characterizes 'permissive' liberal society. Since permissiveness and free choice are elevated into a supreme value, social control and domination can no longer appear as infringing on subjects' freedom: they have to appear as (and be sustained by) individuals experiencing themselves as free.
There is a multitude of forms of this appearing of un-freedom in the guise of its opposite: in being deprived of universal healthcare, we are told that we are being given a new freedom of choice (to choose our healthcare provider); when we can no longer rely on long-term employment and are compelled to search for a new precarious job every couple of years, we are told that we are being given the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and discover our creative potential; when we have to pay for the education of our children, we are told that we are now able to become 'entrepreneurs of the self," acting like a capitalist freely choosing how to invest the resources he possesses (or has borrowed).
In education, health, travel . . . we are constantly bombarded by imposed 'free choices'; forced to make decisions for which we are mostly not qualified (or do not possess enough information), we increasingly experience our freedom as a burden that causes unbearable anxiety.
Unable to break out of this vicious cycle alone, as isolated individuals--since the more we act freely the more we become enslaved by the system--we need to be 'awakened' from this 'dogmatic slumber' of fake freedom.”
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