Twain

In The Realm of Lesser Evil, Jean-Claude Michéa highlights the dangers of the oft-neglected topic of maternal control. In Michéa’s eyes, today’s left remains preoccupied in waging a war against patriarchal forms of domination, yet forgets the fact that capitalist exploitation also relies on non-patriarchal forms of oppression or disciplinary order. Patriarchal control, as Michéa explains, is always “frontal;” the masses know very well who their masters are and so they get in line. Maternal control, by contrast, exercises control over a subject ‘for their own good,’ with the result that “such subjects are almost inevitably led to blame themselves for their own ingratitude and moral shabbiness” (124). The result is a far more insidious form of social control, one that is often internalized by subjects.

Michéa then goes on to drive this point home, demonstrating that the market, rather than the state, is today’s “big brother:”

In a liberal society, the invisible hand of the Market is by definition always harder to perceive than the visible hand of the State, even though the power it exercises over the lives of individuals is far more developed. No particular intellectual agility is required to note the existence of permanent police controls, which is thus quite within the capacity of a person of the left. But an infinitely more complicated operation is needed to recognize the power that Google exercises over modern individuals… It is hard to imagine the modern left and far-left (always ready to wax indignant at the slightest police check in a banlieue station) one day calling on the popular classes to rebel against this kind of control (136-7).

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