Architecture, Neoliberal, Object, Rotterdam, London, New York City
Neoliberalism exists in two forms: policy and ideology. On the policy side, a crusade of deregulation, privatization, and the competition was ushered in by Neoliberal politicians like Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. On the ideology side, Neoliberalism constructs for us a series of truth games. It tells us: our society is too complex for us to understand, and therefore it can not be ordered by humans. In contrast, the market is itself a mechanism of spontaneous order, and therefore is better suited to calculate, process, and order our society. Subsequently, it is humans who must adapt to the needs of the market.
The result is the financialization of everything and the production of a subject who is most compatible with the needs of the market. This subject is pacified, so as to numb criticality, and this subject’s human capital is maximized, spending all time producing or consuming. The market operates as the head of the design of our cities and builds environments that perpetuate its ideal subject.
In the landscape of tax breaks, enterprise zones, and visa incentives, particular environments emerge which project the agenda of the market in its most raw state. These environments, capital imaginaries, are produced by Neoliberal policy and naturalize Neoliberal ideology. Inside, they reveal the production of the Neoliberal Subject which exists in all spaces.
The Neoliberal Subject is comprised of three parts, and for each part, I have developed a case study on a capital imaginary whose construction is directly in pursuit of its production. First, the Depoliticized Individual. In my own truth games, I assert that Kop van Zuid in Rotterdam is about the view. The view constructs the individual, and in such a way that they are depoliticized. Second, the Uncritical Laborer. In these truth games, I assert that Canary Wharf in London is a simulacrum. The simulacrum constructs the laborer, and in such a way that they are made uncritical. Third, the Entertained Consumer. In these truth games, I assert that Hudson Yards is about the experience. The experience constructs the consumer, and in such a way that they are constantly entertained.
The Neoliberal Subject as naturalized by Capital Imaginaries is a terrifying figure. They have been pacified, castrated, and are constantly either producing or consuming. They are burnt out, stressed out, and are under the impression it is due to their own flaws. Far from honoring our ‘Right to the City’ the landscapes of capital we produce are naturalizing our own demise.
Deursen, Hanneke van, "Naturalizing the Neoliberal Subject, The Object: to Change the Soul" (2019). Architecture Thesis Prep. 380.
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